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Investing in Japan: There is no stock market as undervalued and as misunderstood as Japan Paperback – March 14, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Steven is a private investor and shareowner rights proponent with a successful track record enhancing value and engaging management/directors in Japan. He has also done extensive proxy-related work in the U.S. Steven is the founder of Uguisu Research LLC. He was previously a principal of Nippon Value Capital, an activist hedge fund specializing in small-cap Japanese equity investments. He has lived in Japan for over 12 years and has the highest level of Japanese language proficiency certified by the Japanese government. Website: http://steventowns.com and Twitter: https://twitter.com/ActiveInvesting
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1475013507
  • ISBN-13: 978-1475013504
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #361,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By JamesMcRitchie VINE VOICE on April 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
Towns might be right: "There is no stock market as undervalued and as misunderstood as Japan." He guides the reader to plenty of undervalued companies but will their underlying value be eventually recognized? There is a dearth of activism, especially given relatively strong shareowner rights. I'm not about to plunge into a broad index of Japanase companies but honing in on a few unappreciated gems and working to unlock value looks like it could be rewarding... especially if you can team with someone like Towns who has been there.

Towns briefly covers the basics of value investing before plunging into the mysteries of the TOPIX (1&2) Mothers, and JASDAQ. If you are at all thinking about investing in mutual funds, ETFs, ADRs, etc., Towns' advice could easily save you the price of the book on your first buy. It seems that much of the market is traded very thinly, especially domestically (in Japan). Among the largest funds, there is not a single one, besides the Nikkei 225 and TOPIX index funds that focus on a domestic equity strategy. Compare that to the US, where there are probably more funds than stocks. Towns warns us that sales loads and fund fees often average more than 4% on Japanese funds, so even strong performance fails to attract interest from domestic investors.

Turning to stocks, "coverage of stocks has been on the decline, meaning ever fewer professionals are evaluating stocks based on fundamental value. Unlike developing markets, market measures are plentiful in Japan. One that looks interesting is the Dividend Focus 100 Index, well worth reviewing for its constituents.
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I could definitely recommend this book is the best guide for understanding the Japanese stock market.

I have been working in investment banking industry in Japan for long time. I have never seen a book like this which well explains the Japanese undervalued stock market and Japanese corporate governance. I totally agree Steven's argument (i.e. significant undervaluation of Japan equities, unique corporate governance) and believe in the significant opportunity in investing in Japan.

However, I believe it is easy to understand the Japan's undervalued market but it is not so easy to unlock such undervalued stocks. Many activist investors tried to acquire Japanese companies in a hostile way in the past but most of the attempt were not successful. I believe people like Towns who understands the Japanese corporate culture very well may possibly take right investment strategy.

In the book, he also addressed typical concerns/ misconception by foreign investors (e.g. decreasing population, large government debt) . His arguments for such concerns are also quite persuasive. Japan is not a growth market but still in quite stabile economy and significantly undervalued compared to US or Euro companies.
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"Investing in Japan" proved to be very informative about the Japanese market, explaining many things that I hadn't understood or had questions about. The book makes it clear investors are missing huge opportunities. Though, a word of caution as Towns explains, the Japan mutual funds and ETFs available in the U.S. may not be a good idea because their holdings can be too similar or too diverse to reap the upside potential of individual companies with better valuations and growth prospects. The book explains Japanese ADRs and it mentions many stocks throughout the book that only trade in Japan. I am very pleased with the book as someone investing in Japanese ADRs and looking for Japanese stock investment ideas.
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This comprehensive book was very insightful in its discussion of the japanese equity market and how it was done in a concise manner. Investing in Japan shines as a well-researched book that highlighted many points investors need to know when investing in Japan. After reading the book it's clear Japanese mutual funds and ETF's are probably not ones best options. There are plenty of stock ideas and possible strategies referenced and implied. I would judge this to be a timely opportunity to take advantage of what this book has to offer. Well worth the money. A delight for value investors.
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Investing in Japan has proven a frustrating experience for a long time. While many investors have "thrown in the towel", or may be about to do so, Steven Towns' wonderful book shines a welcome spotlight on the opportunities available in Japan. In the process, Towns dispels many of the popular misconceptions, whether related to companies' returns on equity or shareholder's rights. For both the novice and experienced investor, "Investing in Japan" should offer insightful facts and keen observations. By motivating the reader to consider Japanese equities for the first time, or revisit them at recent valuations, the book itself should prove a value investment well worth the time and money!
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Because of its relative "opaqueness", Japanese society and culture can seem mysterious and alien to most outsiders. But those who have lived there and have invested the time and effort to know its culture, language and people have come to implicitly know the great value hidden from foreign eyes.

The author, Steven Towns, by his own account has lived and worked in Japan for over 12 years, speaks the language and knows the society and business culture. He is here to say tell the world in definitive terms and with solid evidence in support (7 pages worth of citations), what we who have lived there all suspect: Japan is the most misunderstood, under-rated and undervalued stock market there is.

Towns is an old-school value investor in the vein of the Graham-Dodd "Superinvestors". He quotes and uses methodologies from the likes of, off the top of my head, Warren Buffett, Walter Schloss, Peter Cundill, Martin Whitman, etc.. to plead his case. If these names mean anything to you, then it behooves you to read this. The Japanese stock market has so many companies trading near cash value and under book value it would make any value investor see stars. Benjamin Graham, were he alive today, would probably be pounding the table over Japanese stocks.

The entire book is a great read, but if nothing else, Chapter 6 and Chapter 8, the ones that deal with his Bullish Japanese Premise and Corporate Governance respectively are the most important in that they outline Towns' answers to all the Japan detractors arguments for being bearish on Japan's stock market and Japan as a viable economic leader-nation in general. I especially appreciate the fact that Towns managed to address the recent news concerning the Olympus scandal that is still fresh on everyone's mind.
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