7 Large-Cap Japanese Equities Trading Below Book Value

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 |  Includes: MFG, MTU, NMR, NTT, PCRFY, SNE, TM
by: Zvi Bar

After a two-decade bear market and this year's significant earthquake, tsunami and nuclear problems, many value, long-term and contrarian investors believe that it is now a good time to buy and hold Japanese equities. Such remains to be seen and many argue that Japan will suffer from a shrinking population and an inability to continue selling their government's debt in the future.

Whether or not Japan is a good long-term place to invest, many value investors believe that investing in businesses when they are trading below provides the opportunity for appreciation with some margin of safety. The idea of purchasing viable businesses for less than the believed market value of their net underlying assets has certain logic to it. Moreover, if Japanese investments do now present a good long term opportunity, then undervalued Japanese equities should do well going forward.

Book value is the value of a company's total assets, less its liabilities. Some companies fall below book value because of a poor economic outlook, problems with business scale or uncertainty over profit growth and/or debt servicing (including pension obligations). Additionally, some companies may value their assets at above appropriate valuations, creating a low but inaccurate price to book value.

Here, I screened the market for large-cap Japanese companies that are publicly traded in the United States. Amongst them, I looked for those with trailing earnings that have a current price to price to book value (P/B) of under 1. Below are the results.

Symbol

Company

Industry

Market Cap

P/B

MFG

Mizuho Financial Group, Inc.

Money Center Banks

$23.45 B

0.68

MTU

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc.

Money Center Banks

$63.11 B

0.57

NMR

Nomura Holdings Inc.

Investment Brokerage - National

$17.25 B

0.64

NTT

Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp.

Telecom Services - Foreign

$62 B

0.62

PC

Panasonic Corporation

Electronic Equipment

$23.83 B

0.74

SNE

Sony Corporation

Electronic Equipment

$25 B

0.79

TM

Toyota Motor Corp.

Auto Manufacturers - Major

$137 B

0.97

Click to enlarge

Book value, as explained above, can sometimes look deceptively undervalued when a company is susceptible to significant risk, or where a company's underlying assets are overvalued and apt for re-evaluation. It may also mean that other investors and/or the market generally is of the opinion that the business model is weak, in decline, corrupt or somehow otherwise a risky place to place an investment. Additionally, Japan does contain risk of continued natural and nuclear issues going forward.

Disclaimer: This news-article should not be construed as personalized investment advice as it does not take into account your specific situation or objectives.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.