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Investing In Greek And Japanese Multinational Companies

 March 08, 2012 01:27 PM

Economic conditions in Greece and Japan have scared away many investors, leading to some promising contrarian value plays.

You'd think that I would have a pretty complete understanding of Japan's stock market…

After all, I studied in Tokyo for a year as an exchange student, went on to study the Japanese language for a year at Harvard, and then went back to Tokyo as a graduate research fellow at Keio University's School of Commerce. My first two jobs in banking and institutional sales were also centered on Japan.

Still, it puzzles me why Japan's economy and leading high-quality global stocks have been in a funk for more than two decades.

Treading water would be a polite way to put it…

Japan Lost Its Mojo

[Related -Toyota Motor Corp (ADR) (TM): This 'Hated' Auto Stock Could Double -- Here's Why]

Since Japan's banking crisis and real estate bubble burst in 1989-1990, its economy has barely grown and its market is trading at only 25% of its peak.

Japan has clearly lost its mojo, and investors are tired of trying to guess when Japan will get it back. Many have simply given up on Japanese stocks altogether.

This seems odd to me, since, as I've written many times, where a company is based isn't very important. On the other hand, where a company gets its revenue and profits is most important.

Take Japan's major companies, such as Sony (NYSE: SNE), Toyota (NYSE: TM) and Canon (NYSE: CAJ). These powerhouses get the vast majority of their revenue from outside of Japan. The same goes for Siemens (NYSE: SI) or BMW (OTC: BAMXY.PK) of Germany.

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