Shares in baby goods take a dive after birth

Shares in baby goods makers tumbled Wednesday on the Tokyo Stock Exchange after Princess Kiko gave birth to a baby boy, the first male heir born to the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy since 1965.

On the news of the birth early in the morning, short-term speculators took profits on the stocks, which then plummeted after soaring in the past few weeks on expectations a royal baby would inspire an increase in the dwindling birthrate.

But some brokers said the sector’s recent sharp gains were almost groundless, and that such short-lived enthusiasm could harm amateur investors.

On the TSE’s first section, Pigeon, Japan’s largest baby goods maker, fell 115 yen to end at 1,925 yen after touching this year’s high of 2,150 yen on Monday.

Combi, a baby gear manufacturer that reached its all-time high of 1,050 yen on Tuesday, went 100 yen limit-down to 884 yen, while Nishimatsuya Chain, an operator of a chain of baby clothing stores, tumbled 115 yen to 2,240 yen after recent gains.

Wakodo, a maker of baby nutritives and medical products, fell by its daily limit of 1,000 yen, hitting 6,380 yen on the TSE’s second section.

“Of course we don’t see this festivity as heralding sudden, sharp growth in our profits or market expansion,” Pigeon spokeswoman Yuko Arikawa said. “But in the long term, we are expecting something positive.”

Princess Kiko, 39, who already has two daughters aged 14 and 11, gave birth to her third child relatively late, Arikawa said.

“Her latest delivery might encourage Japanese women now raising children to have another,” Arikawa said. “That would help create a new business chance for us.”

Some brokers, meanwhile, expressed caution. They warned that individual investors, who are believed to be behind the recent market buoyancy, may get burned by following such short-term speculative movements.

Masatoshi Sato, senior strategist at Mizuho Investors Securities Co., said amateurs should not snap up “issues in fashion that move illogically and do not reflect the reality” of an industry.

“I know it is difficult for investors to resist” during such festive moods, but individual investors must understand that “lots of speculators are involved in such irregular moves,” Sato said.

If they are not aware of the situation, “they will buy stocks at high prices only to see their prices plunge when speculators pull back their money,” he said.

Big business happy

The nation’s business leaders expressed delight Wednesday with the birth of a boy to Princess Kiko and the Imperial family.

“I would like to extend my very sincere congratulations,” said Fujio Mitarai, chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), in a statement.

“Upon hearing the good news, I felt myself purified and invigorated as if I were looking at a crystal-clear autumn sky,” said Mitarai, who is also president of Canon Inc.

“At the same time, I renewed my awareness of Japan’s respect toward history and tradition,” Mitarai said.

Nobuo Yamaguchi, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said it is a great pleasure that the Imperial family now has a baby boy for the first time in 41 years.

“Best wishes for the healthy growth of the newborn prince and prosperity of the Imperial family for many years to come,” Yamaguchi said.

Kakutaro Kitashiro, chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, expressed congratulations on the birth and said he hopes the boy will grow up in good health with his sisters, Princess Mako, 14, and Princess Kako, 11.

Princess Kiko, the wife of Prince Akishino, Emperor Akihito’s second son, gave birth to the boy by Caesarean section at Aiiku Hospital in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

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