Sleeping on the Job Pays as Barclays Seeks Japan Equity Edge

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Barclays Plc is seeking to expand and deepen its equity research coverage in Japan even as it cuts jobs elsewhere. For analyst Atsuro Takemura, that means sleeping on the job.

Takemura, who covers real estate investment trusts, collects information on REIT-owned hotels by staying at the properties, according to his boss, Takashi Hashimoto. That’s allowed him to provide on-the-ground insights and photographs that have been a hit with readers, Hashimoto said.

Barclays plans to add about six analysts in Japan in the next three years to bolster coverage, the equity research chief said. Yet the bigger task is to add the kind of creative twist to research that clients can’t get elsewhere.

“The challenge is not to widen coverage, it’s to dig deeper and provide insightful analysis that can be of use to clients,” Hashimoto said. Barclays ranks as the third-best overseas provider of equity research in Japan this year, according to a Nikkei Veritas survey.

Chairman John McFarlane ousted Chief Executive Officer Antony Jenkins in July as he pledged to accelerate an overhaul of the British lender. Barclays has been expanding its equities business in Japan, buoyed by an 85 percent gain in local stocks since Shinzo Abe became prime minister at the end of 2012 and unleashed fiscal and monetary stimulus programs.

Barclays, which covers about 260 companies in Japan, is looking for an auto industry analyst to replace Takafumi Miura, who left in July. It also wants to appoint five new junior analysts, some of whom may come from within the firm as it seeks to promote existing staff, he said.

Invincible REIT

One of the properties Takemura visited was a hotel in Tokyo bought by the Invincible Investment Corp. REIT. In an Aug. 24 report, he and Hashimoto wrote that the weekday stay rate was relatively low, with rooms available from 7,200 yen ($60), and the hotel was located near a noisy entertainment district.

In a report on properties in Tokyo’s Shinagawa district, Takemura and Hashimoto wrote about an office building owned by Japan Prime Realty Investment Corp. in front of the city’s central meat wholesale market. The building is in an area with a “distinctive smell” and looking for tenants for the first floor, they wrote.

Takemura was named as the top stock picker among Japanese real estate analysts earlier this month in awards given by Thomson Reuters Corp. The Invincible REIT has risen 29 percent since March 4, when Takemura put an overweight rating on the stock, while the Japan Prime REIT, on which he is underweight, has fallen 3.9 percent in the period.

Satsuki Kawasaki joined Barclays as an analyst from Credit Suisse Group AG in May to cover food and beverages, and Maoki Matsuno joined in July to examine banks.

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