A Rising Star
Student ranks among Japan's top stock analysts.
The MBA pursuit can be intense, even daunting at first, but Ross School Global MBA student Takahiro Kazahaya, '07, says it will feel more like a "a time to recharge my batteries" for the next year and a half. As a retail stock analyst for Nomura Securities in Tokyo, Kazahaya typically works 12 or more hours a day, six days a week and enjoys every minute of it.
"Investors are counting on me to comment as soon as new company information is released," he says. "I need to react quickly and be precise and available to them."
That commitment recently earned Kazahaya the honor of being named one of Japan's top securities analysts for 2005. He placed fourth on the StarMine Analyst Awards Top 10 Stock Picker list for his coverage of the retail sector. StarMine is the world's largest source of objective equity research performance ratings. It measures analysts' performance based on the return of their stock recommendations and accuracy of earnings estimates.
Kazahaya spent five years analyzing the fashion industry within the retail sector before coming to the Ross School and says the job isn't "just sitting in front of a computer all day." In fact, it's only 20 percent of his job. The remainder of his time is spent communicating with companies and investors.
"I cover about 20 companies in Japan and most of the time I'm out in the field visiting their factories, stores or headquarters," he explains. "I'm just 30 years old and get to meet with a CEO or CFO almost quarterly to discuss the firm's strategy."
In looking at a company's strategy for growth, he says it's not just about the numbers. "To pick a good stock, I look at not only the financial statement, but the facts behind the figures. It's more important to evaluate the company's real values."
Kazahaya became interested in the retail industry after working as a sales representative at Japanese department store Isetan upon finishing graduate school in 2000. At that time, a poor economy had resulted in many retailers going bankrupt, inspiring him to change his career path.
"There were two approaches to change," he says. "Internally, working for the retailer; or externally, working as an industry analyst." By choosing the latter, Kazahaya was able to apply his department store sales experience. "I learned about the store structure, merchandising and, of course, the customer," he adds.
When Nomura Securities gave him a choice, Kazahaya chose the Ross School over Cornell's Johnson School of Business and the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, for its broad-based management curriculum.
"As an analyst, I should understand all aspects of business, including corporate strategy, marketing and supply chain management—not just finance and accounting," Kazahaya says, adding that the diverse student population and collaborative environment at Ross were a pleasant surprise.
Kazahaya, whose wife recently returned to Tokyo after spending the summer in Ann Arbor, enjoys the town and hopes to take cooking classes in his free time. "Cooking, like analyzing stocks, is a creative job," he says, adding that his specialty is baking cakes.
After graduation, he plans to return to Nomura Securities and relocate to an international city that has a toehold in the fashion industry. "My short-term goal is to analyze companies like Gap or LVMH (a luxury goods retail network that includes Louis Vuitton and Donna Karan) in New York or London," says the fashion enthusiast, who, equipped with a top-ranked business school degree and a retail stock award to boot, should settle into either city quite nicely.
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