Tokyo’s delayed Olympics is flipping conventional wisdom on its head, with Japan’s stay-at-home stocks expected to emerge as winners rather than once-favored advertisers, real-estate firms and travel operators.
Thanks to the resurgent pandemic, shares in the likes of fried-chicken chains, food-delivery operators and electronics stores selling TVs are seen as more likely to get a boost from the Games, according to analysts.
"Purchases of food and TVs will be expected to increase, as people seek to make the Olympics more fulfilling,” Naoya Kumagai, a strategist from Okasan Securities, wrote in a recent report. "Even though the Games will be held in an irregular fashion, it can still provide a tailwind for many companies.”
Among the stocks on the Okasan watchlist are KFC Holdings Japan Ltd., which runs the fried-chicken empire in Japan. It saw sales increase in May and June amid increased stay-home demand. Its shares have risen about 3% over the past month, handily outperforming both the benchmark Topix Index and the Olympics’ official marketing agency Dentsu Group Inc.
The run-up to Tokyo’s year-delayed Olympics has been a fraught one as COVID-19 cases jump in the city and visiting athletes test positive for the virus. Japanese public support is mixed at best, raising questions over the merits of marketing the competition.
Still, success on the field might translate to gains for certain stocks if Japan can retain its home-field advantage in the absence of fans. Entertainment researcher Gracenote Inc. predicts the country could take a record haul of 61 medals, nearly 50% more than five years ago in Rio, including 26 golds.
That could benefit the likes of sponsors and supports including Mizuno Corp., the swimwear supplier for Japan’s closely watched swim team, which includes leukemia survivor Rikako Ikee. Shares in Asics Corp., a key sponsor and supplier of the Japan team’s sportswear, have nearly doubled over the past year, though have dipped almost 15% so far in July.
Demae-Can Co., the nation’s main listed food-delivery operator whose stock has fallen 56% this year, may also see a boost, according to Okasan. And makers of 4K televisions may also benefit, with the Olympics expected to be an ideal time to upgrade old TV sets.
"It doesn’t really feel like Japan is the host country for the Olympics, but once the Games begin people will get excited,” the Okasan analysts wrote. "We look forward to a rush of medals and a rush of high stock prices.”
On the downside, Dentsu would once have been expected to be the key stock to watch, having surged in the aftermath of Japan being awarded the Games in 2013. But its shares have fallen nearly 6% over the past two days, as reports came in that some of Japan’s biggest advertisers, including Toyota Motor Corp., won’t show commercials during the Games.
"The decision by a topmost sponsor to abandon ad placements now could have a knock-on impact on other sponsors,” Citigroup analyst Hiroki Kondo wrote in a note Monday, declaring the move "somewhat negative” for shares.
Other shares that remain in the doldrums amid the absence of spectators and the states of emergency include those of the railway operators. The listed Japan Railway firms and Keisei Electric Railway Co. are among the worst performers on the Nikkei 225 since the latest state of emergency was declared.
For Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, the unique aspect of this year’s Games means calling for winners or losers is a pointless exercise.
"It’s real nonsense right now to talk about which sectors will rise because of the Olympics,” Fujito said. "Some people say Japanese people like the Olympics and if they win gold medals stocks will rise, but that’s only true if this was a regular Olympics.”
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