Although the Nikkei has danced to new highs recently (+30% at time of writing), not everyone has been doing so well.

That’s especially the case for food & beverage stocks.

Yakult and Morinaga’s share price has not grown whilst Ezaki Glico, Nissin Foods and Calbee are down (-7%, -8% & -14% respectively). Alcohol giants Asahi and Suntory are doing somewhat better (+45%, +19%), though Kirin is treading water (+4%).

Ajinomoto, maker of flavour enhancer MSG, mono sodiumglutamate is up 76% far ahead of its peers.

Photo by Indivar Kaushik

There’s been no big restructuring and to my knowledge no rumours of any takeover.

In fact conventional wisdom would suggest a business with a heavy foodservice and industrial bias would be suffering headaches from the Coronavirus shutdown.

It’s not widely known, but besides MSG Ajinomoto has a chemical division. One of its star products is ABF, Ajinomoto Buildup Film. ABF is a thin membrane used in computer boards, satellites and electric vehicles.

And there’s a supply shortage of ABF which has a knock on effect limiting CPU and GPU supply.

Shareholders and industry analysts in Japan are encouraging Ajinomoto and other Japanese food producers to refocus.

“Every company needs to review its business portfolio regularly, that’s especially the case for Japanese food makers, which face a shrinking population in their home market.” 

DAIWA SECURITIES ANALYST

ABF films are reportedly used by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.