Japanese Sub-Liquidation Value Stock Performance


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Greenbackd submits:

Following on from last week's Japanese liquidation value: 1932 US redux post, I've been trying to determine whether the historical performance of Japanese sub-liquidation value stocks matches the experience in the US. The question arises because of the perception (rightly or not) that the weakness of shareholder rights in Japan means that net current asset value stocks there are destined to trade at a discount to net current asset value. I'm always a little chary of the "Japan has weak shareholder rights" narrative (or any narrative, for that matter). I'd rather look at the data. In this instance, unfortunately, the data are wanting.

In The performance of Japanese common stocks in relation to their net current asset values , a 1993 paper by Bildersee, Cheh and Zutshi, the authors analyzed the performance of Japanese net nets between 1975 and 1988. Here are their findings described in another paper:

In the first study outside of the USA, Bildersee, Cheh and Zutshi (1993)'s paper focuses on the Japanese market from 1975 to 1988. In order to maintain a sample large enough for cross-sectional analysis, Graham's criterion was relaxed so that firms are required to merely have an NCAV/MV ratio greater than zero. They found the mean market-adjusted return of the aggregate portfolio is around 1 percent per month (13 percent per year).

Not a great return, but obviously a difficult period through 1987 and not an exact facsimile of Graham's strategy. An astute reader notes that "…the test period for that study is not the best. It includes Japan's best analog to America's Roaring Twenties. The Nikkei peaked on 12/29/89, and never recovered:"

Many of the "assets" on public companies' books at that time were real estate bubble-related. At the peak in 1989, the aggregate market price for all private real estate in the city of Tokyo was purportedly greater than that of the entire state of California. You can see how the sudden runup in real estate during the bubble could cause asset-heavy companies to outperform the market.

So a better crucible for Japanese NCAVs might be the deflationary period, say beginning 1/1/90, which is more analogous to the US in 1932.

It would be interesting to see an update of the performance, but, as far as I am aware, none exists. To that end, I've undertaken a little research project of my own. I'll publish the results tomorrow.

See also Why We Should Take Goldman's Yuan Prognostications Very Seriously on seekingalpha.com

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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