MILLBURN, N.J. ( Stockpickr) -- Japan has suffered a series of disasters -- earthquake, aftershocks, tsunamis and nuclear accidents -- over the course of the last week. The Japanese stock market is down dramatically in the wake of these unfortunate events. I have refrained from making any Japanese investment or trade, with one or two brief exceptions, for nearly 20 years, but I am now taking a more serious look at opportunities that are presenting themselves as a result of the aforementioned events.
As a matter of background, I spent an extensive amount of time in Japan from 1986 to 2001, with particular focus on my expatriate years of 1987 to 1989. My first son was born there. While my Japanese is a bit rusty, I have an excellent grasp of the culture, history, business and economics of Japan.
Japan was rebuilt by allied occupational forces after World War II. Even today, the U.S. has a large naval presence in Japan. Japan's post-war coming-out party, so to speak, was the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. It was from that period on that the country became a major exporter of technology, cars, automotive parts, consumer electronics, commercial ships and pharmaceutics.
Related: Cramer's Stocks for a Japan RebuildFor the most part, Japan is mercantilist in nature. The country avoids importation of foreign-manufactured products at all costs. Even if foreign-produced finished products are cheaper or of better quality, the Japanese will likely not import them. There are three major exceptions, in general, to that trade bias: raw materials, petroleum and luxury goods. In order to rebuild the country, the Japanese government will first throw money at domestic companies such as Komatsu and Sumitomo Heavy, but those companies cannot be invested in directly by American investors. So we need to seek out those companies that will both a) benefit from the massive reconstruction and b) trades in the U.S. markets in ADR, or American depository receipt, form. The first such Japanese company that comes to mind is Kubota (KUB - Get Report). Kubota is first and foremost known for manufacturing industrial, farm and construction machinery and equipment. To that extent, Kubota's American competitors would be Deere (DE) and Caterpillar (CAT). Kubota is also engaged in the design and construction of water and environmental systems, which will be in great demand in Japan. Lastly, Kubota fabricates materials, pipes and electrical equipment for infrastructure projects.