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Good Stock Picks Are Few in Japan

|Includes: Japan Equity Fund (JEQ), JOF
As much as I want to find a trade in Japan and therefore have an excuse to go there again, my searches have recently come up empty. With America maintaining its lead in innovation and the creation of new business models, and China taking over the world’s low end manufacturing, it is hard to see a future for Japan. Can a country of 127 million live only off of the high end manufacturing of luxury cars, video games, and electronics? The country is increasingly looking like a “has been” emerging market. During my career, I watched GDP growth rates fall from a white hot 10% in the sixties, to 4% in the seventies and eighties, to 1% in the nineties and the early 21st century. Are we flat lining at 0% in the teens? That leaves fertile ground only for stock pickers who are willing to do the local spade work to find one hit wonders like Toyota and Fast Retail. That is a job best left to country specialists, like my old friend, 40 year veteran Ed Merner, who runs the Atlantis Japan Growth Fund (LSE-AJG) traded in London, which has shot up a sizzling 80% in six months.