We established a position in Resona (TSE:8308), the largest Japanese regional bank, at a price of ¥547,representing 0.8x book value and 8x earnings. Resona was formed through the 2002-2003merger and recapitalization of three local banks in the Tokyo and Osaka regions. As part of thatrecapitalization, the Japanese government bought a majority equity stake. Under newmanagement, the bank cleaned up its balance sheet, began paying back the government stake,and has been profitable every year since, reaching a 13% ROE last year. In 2013, managementannounced a five-year plan to buy out the remaining government shareholding. Due to strongerthan expected earnings, that plan is well ahead of schedule, and the company is buying backstock from the government at very attractive valuations. The accretion from the buyback doesnot appear to be reflected in analyst models. With the more volatile international Japanese bankstrading at 9x EPS, and its peer regionals at 13x EPS, Resona is cheap on both an absolute andrelative basis. Resona shares ended the quarter at ¥499.
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