Value • Quality • Governance
Simply, it is home to the highest quality, least expensive equities in global markets.
Our process starts by trying to answer the following question: "What are the highest quality, yet cheapest, stocks in the world?" Because we are not trying to beat a benchmark, we do not define our test for Quality or Value in a relative sense, but apply it using absolute thresholds. Out of 15,000 listed stocks in developed markets, only about 200 companies presently pass our quantitative screen, of which 70% are in Japan.
We distill this list with fundamental research on an individual company's operating environment and subject our valuation to various risk scenarios. We meet management to make sure we are not making analytical mistakes and to test their receptiveness to improving capital efficiency and generating higher returns for equity holders.
We actively vote our shares as we feel this is the clearest demonstration of ownership.
We believe that market efficiency generally declines the further one travels down the capitalization spectrum. With decades of experience researching Japanese and Asian small cap stocks, we have developed quantitative tools to screen for both Quality and Value where extra-normal returns are a product of buying better-than-average assets at much-lower-than-average valuations.
Our advantage comes from the ability to interrogate our quantitative output and identify good management teams early in the process of embracing better corporate governance. Governance improvement often takes the form of shedding low return assets, optimizing capital structure, and returning excess capital to shareholders. Importantly, our focus on long holding periods allows us to source liquidity and partner with management teams in ways many institutional investors cannot.
We founded Kaname Capital on the conviction that small cap equities in Japan offer a unique intersection of operational excellence and attractive valuation. This area is also one of the last pools of inefficiency in developed equity markets, where informational advantage is possible for the diligent fundamental analyst. We believe these rare characteristics, combined with the ability to invest for the long-term, offer the possibility for attractive absolute returns.
Teamwork and Trust
Eric and Toby have worked together for 16 years, forming “Team Asia” in the International Active division at GMO. Both have an abiding interest in Asia and have more than 50 years of collective market experience in the region. They share a common belief in the philosophy of value investing: that markets are inefficient, the future is ultimately unknowable but low multiples imply low expectations, and that the best predictor of investment returns is the valuation at which one buys. They value transparency, accountability, ‘skin in the game’, and encourage differentiated thinking. Kaname Capital was founded to leverage their unique working relationship to pursue deep value opportunities in Asia, with an initial emphasis on Japan.
Eric joined GMO International Active in 2003, was a senior portfolio manager in the division, and a partner of the firm. While an Asia specialist covering all of the ex-Japan markets, he also managed GEM and European portfolios for the team. Eric lived in Hong Kong from 1994 through 2002 working with both Prudential Portfolio Managers and JPMorgan in equity research and portfolio management roles. There, he was lucky enough to experience the 1998 Asian financial crisis early in his career, an event that profoundly affected his views on required margins of safety, when to walk away from risk, and when to pounce on true deep value. He graduated from Middlebury College.
Toby joined GMO International Active in 2005 where he focused solely on the Japanese market as a senior portfolio manager. He also managed special situation value sleeves for the GMO Asset Allocation group. His greatest professional interest has always been in the small cap discipline where his Japanese language skills and ability to create relationships with management teams led to an informational advantage. Toby lived in Japan from 1993 to 2004, first as a Rotary Japan Ambassadorial Scholar and later for graduate work at Keio University, Tokyo. His investment career started in equity research at Dresdner Kleinwort Benson and Nikko Salomon Smith Barney in Tokyo before he attended the Harvard Kennedy School and managed money at GMO. He serves on the Japan Society of Boston’s Board of Directors and graduated from Haverford College.