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Selective Opportunity in Japan

Stocks in this article: EWJ JOF HMC SNE

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( The FRED Report) -- In this week's FRED Report, we took a look at the Japanese stock market, and felt we should update readers here as well. In our article after the earthquake, we recommended four separate purchases of Japanese equities. The first two were ETFs and the second two were ADRs. First we will look at the two ETFs, which were Japanese stock indexes: EWJ, and JOF. Both have moved above their post quake prices, but EWJ has been a bit stronger.

The large-cap EWJ is performing better than JOF -- no surprise, as the multinationals in Japan are doing better than smaller, domestic oriented companies. This is a trend that could continue for the rest of 2011. We rate EWJ a hold for now, but would buy more should it move above 11.00. JOF has a bit more to go before it challenges upside resistance, and on a relative basis should be sold unless it moves above 8.90 soon.

We also recommended two big multinational companies, Honda (HMC) and Sony (SNE). These recommendations have been a little less successful --- HMC has moved nicely above the immediate post quake price, while SNE has lagged due to the assault by hackers. We show charts below:

HMC has outperformed the two ETFs, above, as well as SNE. Note also that the three units that outperformed also held the July 2010 lows. On the other hand, SNE has broken the July 2010 lows as well as underperformed. Another way of looking at this is to note that SNE would be above 30 if it had performed in line. This pattern of weakness suggests that SNE will continue to be a laggard but may rally toward $30 before it begins its next down move. HMC still looks buyable to us.

While Japan and Japanese equities have improved, they have never been our favorite method for participating in the Pacific Rim. In next week's article, we will discuss some other ways to invest in the Asian growth story.

Fred Meissner is founder and publisher of The Fred Report. Fred is a CMT and past President of the Market Technicians Association (MTA). He recently left Merrill Lynch's Market Analysis Department and Sector Strategy Department to form The Fred Report. A detailed bio is here:Fred Meissner.

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