The Japanese Economy Has Some Good News

05/22/2015 7:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Although not out of the woods yet, Mary-Lynn Cesar of Kapitall.com explores how the Japanese economy is finally starting to put up some positive numbers and she offers a list of six Japanese stocks that are trading up to 3% below their 52-week highs.

Don't call it a comeback just yet, but the Japanese economy is finally showing signs of life.

The third-largest economy in the world is starting the year on the right foot. On Wednesday, the government revealed that the Japanese economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.4% in the first quarter, its fastest pace in a year. The figure was a marked improvement from the 1.1% growth recorded between October and December 2014 and it beat the 1.5% forecast over at The Wall Street Journal.

Japan isn't out of the woods just yet, though. Inventories rose, which indicates that consumption remains a hurdle for the country. The buildup in unsold goods contributed a whopping 0.5 percentage point to the GDP—more than business and housing investment and consumption—which grew by 0.6% in the quarter. If inventories are removed from the equation, the Japanese economy's annualized rate of growth falls to 0.4%.

It still remains to be seen whether Abenomics will be a success, but Wednesday's data could be a cautious endorsement of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic reforms.

To celebrate the Japanese economy's best performance in a year, here's a list of Japanese stocks that are trading up to 3% below their 52-week highs. They may not be at their best just yet, but they could be getting close.

Click on the interactive chart to view data over time.

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1. Mizhuo Financial Group, Inc. (MFG): Provides various banking and financial services in Japan and internationally. Market cap at $49.98B, most recent closing price at $4.11.

The stock is trading -0.97% below its 52-week high.

2. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. (MTU): Provides various financial services to individual and corporate customers in Japan and internationally. Market cap at $104.57B, most recent closing price at $7.50.

The stock is trading -2.10% below its 52-week high.

3. Nidec Corporation (NJ): Engages in the design, development, manufacture, and marketing of small precision motors, mid-size motors, machinery, and electronic and optical components. Market cap at $22.08B, most recent closing price at $19.06.

The stock is trading -2.14% below its 52-week high.

4. Sumimoto Mitsui Financial Group, Inc. (SMFG): Provides various banking and financial products and services in Asia and the Oceania, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Market cap at $60.64B, most recent closing price at $8.84.

The stock is trading -2.74% below its 52-week high.

5. Sony Corporation (SNE): Designs, develops, manufactures, and sells electronic equipment, instruments, and devices for consumer, professional, and industrial markets worldwide. Market cap at $37.65B, most recent closing price at $32.61.

The stock is trading -2.25% below its 52-week high.

6. Toyota Motor Corporation (TM): Engages in the design, manufacture, assembly, and sale of passenger cars, minivans, and commercial vehicles. Market cap at $218.81B, most recent closing price at $139.52.

The stock is trading -4.47% below its 52-week high.

(List compiled by Mary-Lynn Cesar. Monthly return data sourced from Zacks Investment Research. All other data sourced from FINVIZ.)

By Mary-Lynn Cesar of Kapitall.com

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