Insights

Investment Insights by our experts and thought leaders

Investing in Japan: an insider's perspective with Naomi Fink

Naomi Fink recently joined Nikko Asset Management as a Global Strategist based in Tokyo. We sat down with Naomi to discuss her personal relationship with Japan, and to hear her views on arguably the most talked-about investment region in the world at present.
Inflation uncertainty seems increasingly entrenched, which is less kind to developed market sovereign bonds. The US fiscal deficit is very large, and the Federal Reserve (Fed) is now in the challenging position of deciding when to cut rates. Energy remains a good hedge in this environment, and gold is increasingly being recognised as a store of value.
The Chinese economy and its equity market continue to be significant focal points in broader Asia. Additional support measures, combined with a recalibration of market expectations, have helped Chinese equities recover from the panic selling witnessed towards the end of 2023 and into January. As a result, fundamental strengths are being recognised in certain areas.
We maintain a positive outlook for Asian local government bonds, particularly those from India, Indonesia and the Philippines. In our view, the disinflation trends in these countries should provide their central banks with the flexibility to shift towards rate cuts later in the year.

Of volcanic activity and Asian fixed income markets

We highlight the importance of making decisions based on probabilities and the best expected outcomes, assessing relevant information and acting ahead in constantly changing market conditions.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights From Tokyo (April 2024)

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) lifted interest rates for the first time in 17 years in March, making a historic departure from negative interest rates. We provide an overall evaluation of its decision, discuss how long accommodative monetary conditions could still last, analyse the yen’s potential policy impact and assess the BOJ’s options after halting ETF purchases.

Global Investment Committee’s outlook: stronger for longer

The Global Investment Committee sees robust corporate earnings, firm employment and expectations for rate cuts keeping markets more buoyant than anticipated by average consensus estimates.

Future Quality Insights: healthcare offers diversification from market hot spots

We remain very strong supporters of the healthcare sector. In addition to the well-known demographic drivers, innovation is enabling structural changes in healthcare delivery and in our view these changes will confer years of strong organic growth opportunities if we choose the right companies.
Japanese households, long under-invested in financial markets, are expected to play a significant part in the country’s “virtuous circle” of reflation as they seek returns capable of keeping up with inflation.
Improving economic dynamics defy conventional logic of what one would expect from one of the most aggressive tightening cycles in history. However, if one considers the magnitude of the 2020 expansion in money supply, there is still significant excess liquidity, perhaps transmitting to resilient demand and cash flow that so far exceeds the headwinds of higher rates.

What’s changing in India?

In this article, the Asian Equity Team at Nikko AM explores the structural drivers and key factors behind India's longer-term economic growth trajectory, and the implications for equity investors.
We think that there could be some short-term rebound in China as valuations are in extreme oversold territory. However, for the rally to be more sustainable, we are monitoring for a few drivers, including supply-side measures that can resolve China’s main housing issues.
We maintain a positive outlook for Asian local government bonds, particularly India, Indonesia and Philippine bonds. In our view, the disinflation trends in these countries should provide the Reserve Bank of India, Bank Indonesia and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas with the flexibility to shift towards rate cuts later in the year.
The Asian REIT market is the second-largest REIT market globally, but there is still plenty of room for growth. As REIT regulations and listing processes become increasingly market-friendly in newer REIT markets, we expect more asset owners to securitise their real estate into REIT products, driving greater investor interest.
The “trial balloons” of media announcements in advance of today’s interest rate hike by the Bank of Japan —its first in 17 years—apparently did their job, as the end of its negative interest rate policy, yield curve control and ETF purchases were smoothly digested by markets.

Trump vs. Biden II: what implications could the US election have for sustainable fixed income?

The stage is now set for a Biden versus Trump rematch in November. So, what does this mean for sustainable bonds?

Vietnam seeing a full turnaround in fortunes

We visited Vietnam in February and found that business and economic prospects have turned around completely for the better from a year ago. Interest rates have normalised, and mortgage terms are the most favourable that we have ever seen in Vietnam.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – February 2024

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) maintained the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at 5.5% at its latest Monetary Policy Committee meeting on 28 February, meaning that New Zealand’s interest rates have now been kept on hold for over nine months. We agree with the RBNZ’s decision to keep the OCR unchanged and feel that most indicators are moving in the central bank’s favour.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (March 2024)

This month we focus on the prospect of Japanese stocks sustaining their upward trajectory after reaching record highs; we also assess how the country’s Q4 GDP contraction sharpens the focus on consumption and wages in 2024.

Why we should pay special attention to Japan’s Q4 capex surge

One of Japan’s more recent economic releases made us sit up and take notice. Within the very resilient Q4 capital expenditure figures released this week was one important reinforcing indicator of Japan’s structural recovery, or in the Bank of Japan’s language, its “virtuous circle” of reflation. One near-term positive development for Japan is the very real possibility that the “technical recession” in Japan Q4 GDP (down 0.4% quarter-on-quarter) could be, thanks to unexpectedly strong Q4 capex, revised away.

Nikkei reaches all-time high: five reasons the rally will endure

Despite the Nikkei reaching all-time highs in 2024, Japan is also experiencing a technical recession. Against that backdrop, Japanese Equity Investment Director Junichi Takayama offers five reasons why Japan’s economic resurgence still has ample runway, and why investors should consider increasing their allocation to Japan.
This is the “swan song” of this report, which comes at an appropriate time because it was always meant to prove to readers that corporate governance, and the overall case for investing in Japanese equities, was sound. Now that the market’s performance and global enthusiasm for Japan has swelled, there is less need for the report, although it is useful to note the continuance of its impressive trend.
We explain how reflationary dynamics underpin the foundations of Japan’s incipient structural recovery and illustrate why we believe the country’s equity comeback should not be written off as another flash-in-the-pan cyclical upturn headed for an eventual return to deflationary dynamics.
The seemingly impossible soft landing on the back of one of the most aggressive monetary tightening cycles in history is looking not just possible, but increasingly probable. US data is coming in stronger and global demand is generally steady with increasing channels of potential upside.

Energy security and Future Quality

Our Future Quality investment philosophy revolves around identifying companies that have pricing power, possess management teams that invest will appropriately, boast strong balance sheets and offer opportunities that are not yet priced in by the market. This approach will remain constant in 2024 although we are also acutely aware of the significant impact energy security will have on global decarbonisation efforts.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – January 2024

Despite continued struggles with inflation in New Zealand and elsewhere, our view is that the RBNZ’s next change to the OCR is likely to be downward, albeit at a later timing than the market has recently been expecting.
The Indian market remains attractive. It has the highest earnings growth in the Asian region, valuations that are in the middle of its historic range and an economy that is growing strongly with inflation under control.

New Zealand Equity Monthly –January 2024

We view 2024 with optimism—markets could begin to be driven by company earnings rather than by inflation outcomes and interest rate expectations as they have in the past year, and New Zealand’s market is well placed to shrug off volatility experienced in 2023.
We expect an anticipated decrease in developed market bond yields, coupled with enhanced foreign inflows, to bolster demand for Asian bonds. We see Asia credit remaining well supported with subdued net new supply as issuers continue to access cheaper onshore funding.

Unlocking fixed income biodiversity opportunities: NWB Bank

While bond issuers have embraced the opportunity to help fund the transition toward carbon neutrality, the issuance of nature and biodiversity-related bonds remains more limited. However, biodiversity bond issuance is beginning to move from niche to mainstream.

The Future Quality approach to navigating the AI arms race

The emergence of AI has dramatically shifted the future pathway for the technology sector, and our research has found that this emerging structural trend chimes with our Future Quality principles.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (February 2024)

This month we discuss how emerging growth narratives such as semiconductors may come into focus in 2024; we also assess the slightly hawkish turn the BOJ took at its January policy meeting.

Japan’s reform measures pave the way for an exceptional 2024

Last year, global investors turned their attention firmly towards Japan as a way of increasing their Asia exposure while avoiding perceived geopolitical and regulatory risks linked to China, and amid the high inflation environment dominating western economies. But this year, Japan’s success is more based on its own merits.

The US economy continues to look robust, so we have stayed constructive on growth assets and short maturity global credit where yields are attractive. We still believe that the path to 2% inflation in the US is relatively unclear. If anything, our conviction on this point has increased because easier financial conditions may ultimately pave the way for the return of sticky inflation.

The peaking of interest rates and potentially the US dollar could be a boon for broader markets—particularly those more sensitive to liquidity, countries with more room to ease rates and areas where positive fundamental changes have been overlooked. China’s economy is undergoing a major transition into one that promotes advanced manufacturing, technology, self-sufficiency and higher-end overseas growth. These are areas of our focus.

Home bias might be an understandable trait for investors, but in the current environment a lack of meaningful international diversification—particularly towards the Asia-Pacific region—risks leaving substantial amounts of investment returns on the table.

We expect macro and corporate credit fundamentals across Asia ex-China to stay resilient due to fiscal buffers although slower economic growth seems to loom over the horizon.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (January 2024)

This month we discuss why the equity market is relatively unaffected by the political scandal shaking Japan’s ruling party; we also assess how 2024 could become an inflection point in the country’s “savings to investments” drive.

Although we believe that the prospects for the economy remain mostly unchanged, the outlook is softer at the margins, perhaps reflecting the tightening of financial conditions seen during the recent months. Over the past month, however, financial conditions have eased considerably on the assumption of impending rate cuts.

New Zealand markets outlook 2024: the only certainty is more uncertainty

Given the volume of quality defensive companies with relatively high dividend yields, higher for longer interest rates are a significant headwind for New Zealand’s equity markets. Alongside these, the country’s globally-focused export companies will be looking for the global growth story to play out positively, but for the meantime will at least be enjoying a relatively weak New Zealand dollar.

Corporate governance reform points to opportunities ahead in Japan equities

Japan may not be known for quick, sweeping reforms. However, developments in the country’s corporate governance over the last 10 years suggest that once changes are set in motion, they can have a deep and lasting impact, raising the value of its companies and creating investment opportunities along the way.

Global Investment Committee’s outlook

We expect poor 1Q24 returns for MSCI World after the 4Q23 surge, but a more positive trend for the rest of 2024. Regionally, we much prefer Japan in the year ahead. Our view on global bonds for USD-based investors is that they are preferred during much of the 1H, but only marginally attractive in the 2H.

We expect sentiment toward Asia’s bond markets to turn increasingly positive in 2024. We also expect macro and corporate credit fundamentals across Asia ex-China to stay resilient on the back of fiscal buffers, although slower economic growth appears to loom over the horizon.

Despite short-term negatives, we believe that China continues to offer ample long-term growth opportunities as the country pivots towards advanced manufacturing and technology. Elsewhere, some of the best growth stories globally could be found in India and Indonesia, while Taiwan and South Korea are expected to continue benefitting from a modest upcycle as the semiconductor industry recovers.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (December 2023)

We discuss how a bullish year for Japan equities has brought what was previously out of sight into view and analyse focal points for the market as we head into 2024; we also assess how focusing on efficiency and growth could be the way forward for Japan given its projected drop in the GDP rankings.

Global multi-asset outlook 2024

Our investment themes for 2024 focus on key features of a world in transition. They include higher-for-longer rates, production shortages in natural resources and the search for new sources of productivity. Transitions are never easy, and features of the old world accustomed to low rates may not make it. We believe that some of these old-world features could pose systemic risks as “creative destruction” does not always run smoothly.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – November 2023

Amid significantly negative returns in both the equity and fixed income markets at the end of last year, it was thought that 2023 would be the “year of the bond”. As we near the end of 2023, however, the bond market is still yet to live up to those expectations. Even so, our view is that the upswing for bonds has been deferred but not cancelled. Although cash has been king for the last two to three years, we believe bonds are now poised to take the crown.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – November 2023

November was a stronger month for equities given that central banks around the world began suggesting that interest rates have peaked. While we do not expect to see any rate cuts in the near term, investors appear to believe that the worst is over in terms of rate increases. That view has been beneficial for New Zealand’s equity market, which bounced back by about 4% in November.

Global equity outlook 2024

We are heading into a changing world, where the more recent past can no longer be relied on to guide our path forward. But we are not blindfolded. There are tools we can use to provide a greater degree of certainty. Our Future Quality approach is designed to help us identify franchises that are set to endure.

Global fixed income outlook 2024

We present our 2024 outlook for sustainable fixed income, core markets and credit markets.

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Nikko AM works with the UK-based international organisation Carbon Footprint Ltd. to offset carbon emissions through offset programmes, and has been certified as carbon neutral since 2018.