All of us at some point will have played tunes on a Sony Walkman, driven a Toyota, or watched our favourite TV programme on a Panasonic. Japanese companies are responsible for some of the world’s biggest brands and most popular products that we use on a day-to-day basis. Stockopedia is therefore pleased to announce that we will soon be providing investors with the data they need to analyse stocks in the Land of the Rising Sun. We have put together this guide to help you gain a deeper understanding of Japanese stock markets and further explore investment opportunities in the East.
Towards the end of the 19th Century Japan became the first Asian economy to industrialise. It has been a global economic powerhouse since the country's 'economic miracle' gathered momentum in the years after the second world war. An important factor supporting this 'miracle' was the emergence of keiretsu - essentially groups of companies with interlocking business relationships, that shielded constituent firms against foreign competition and takeovers. Many familiar companies emerged under and are still part of these keiretsu. For example, the multinational conglomerate Hitachi is part of the DKB Group keiretsu. Toyota Motor and Toyota Industrial (the world's largest manufacturer of forklift trucks) are both, you guessed it, part of theToyota Group keiretsu.
Much of Japan's economic growth in the post-war period was based on the expansion of manufacturing in areas such as automobiles. Today Japan remains the world's largest automobile manufacturing country and is of course home to companies like Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Looking beyond manufacturing, Japan is currently the world's third largest economy in terms of GDP and the fourth largest in terms of Price Purchasing Parity (PPP).
Japan has gained a particularly strong reputation as a world leading producer of high-tech goods. Several socio-economic factors are conducive to this technological innovation. The country has a high R&D spending to GDP ratio, and on the demand side Japanese consumers are generally 'early adopters' who embrace new technology before most other people. Historically Japanese companies like Casio and Sony introduced gadgets like the portable calculator and the Walkman. Today Japan remains a technological leader, recently ranking 4th in Bloomberg’s Global Innovation Index, ahead of Germany which ranked 5th and the UK which…