International Spotlight

Updates on companies around the world.

If 2023 marked Japan's breakout, 2024 could herald the beginning of a decade-long ascent as Asia's premier investment destination. Clear indicators abound, notably the Nikkei index's historic surge beyond its late 1980s peak, surpassing 40,000 for the first time in history, alongside a significant rise in wages at major firms—the highest percentage increase seen in 33 years.

Established in 1993, Avanti Feeds has grown to become India's premier producer of shrimp feed and the leading exporter of shrimp products in the country. Over the span of just over thirty years, Avanti has evolved from a pioneering company to a globally recognized brand known for its commitment to quality, sustainability, and support for regional fish farmers.

According to Morgan Stanley, nominal growth – which gives a clearer picture of Japan's economy than real growth – reached 5% in 2023, its highest level since 1991. For comparison, Japan's nominal growth averaged just 0.2% between 1995 and 2020. Likewise, inflation has kept above the Bank of Japan's 2% target for the past 18 months, incentivizing businesses and households to switch from saving to investing. Recognising the opportunity, global investors are piling in.

With its world-famous tourism industry, robust manufacturing, and flourishing financial services sector, as well as an agriculture base that ranks in the world's top-15 exporters, Thailand boasts an enviably diverse economy. It is also a dynamic one - a recent report by global professional services firm Deloitte forecast that private investment will play an important role in driving GDP growth in 2024, with major investments in electric vehicle and electrical appliances and electronics manufacturing in particular.

What sets Japan's current equity market apart from its previous highs is its significantly increased affordability. As per Goldman Sachs Research, 46% of equities on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's (TSE) Prime Market are presently trading below their book value, a stark contrast to just 5% of their S&P 500 counterparts. Coupled with the TSE's incentives for companies to enhance valuations and earnings, in tandem with Japan's exceptionally low borrowing costs and interest rates, this renders it an attractive playing field for investors.

Saudi Arabia is undergoing a remarkable transformation. Seeking to power new growth outside its considerable oil reserves, the Kingdom has embarked on a landmark diversification effort to propel itself into a global powerhouse for innovation, investment, and trade. Its rewards already include surpassing the USD 1 trillion GDP mark for the first time in 2022 and the accolade of the fastest-growing G20 economy the same year. Encouragingly, the Kingdom's non-oil economic growth has sharply accelerated since the pandemic and is expected to reach 5.4% next year, according to the IMF – which expects the economy as a whole to grow above the global average at 4.0%.

Boasting a multi-decade-high equity market, a supply chain haven for countries diversifying away from China, and "immense technological innovation and digitalization," according to the IMF, Japan continues to remind global investors why, in 2023, they should bet on Asia's largest and most advanced economy. Enabled by the Bank of Japan's ultra-loose monetary policy, this year marks a historic turning point for Japan – a meaningful return to healthy inflation after three decades of stagflation.

As the Nikkei index rockets to heights last seen at the peak of Japan's post-war miracle economy, investors worldwide have reached a consensus: Japan is a 'buy.' According to analysts from Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, record gains have been driven by the high upside in Japan's equity market, a position all but confirmed by the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) itself – when it outlined plans this March to force companies trading below their book value to increase their stock prices.