Mystery Man Moving Japan Made More Than 1 Million Trades


June 26, 2015 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Financial Service


Sept. 26 (Bloomberg) — It was six minutes after the opening bell on Feb. 4, and dozens of big-name stocks were still untraded in Tokyo.

Telecommunications giant SoftBank Corp. was among those that hadn’t budged.

The offer price fell 5 percent, then more, and still there were no takers.Then an order was filled: 300,000 shares at 6,714 yen — worth just over 2 billion yen, or almost $20 million.

Other buyers followed, momentum built, and the stock ended the day as one of only two gainers in the Nikkei 225 Stock Average.

The man who made the market for SoftBank that winter morning was sitting in pajamas in a bedroom cluttered with comic books. He was leaning into the glare of four computer screens and munching a carrot — something to calm his stomach.

 

Betting on rebounds was dangerous, but he’d watched SoftBank lose a fifth of its value over nine days, and a drop in U.S. markets overnight had driven the shares even lower. The odds were tilting further in favor of a bounce, by his reckoning.

He decided to pull the trigger, rat-a-tat-tatting the orders in, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its November issue.Ninety minutes later, he cashed out with a profit of 140.6 million yen.

Then it was on to the next trade for the former video game champion and pachinko gambler who goes by the name CIS.

The 35-year-old day trader says he made 6 billion yen, after taxes, betting on Japanese stocks last year.

Big Numbers

During a decade of day trading, having started more or less from scratch, CIS has amassed a fortune that he says now exceeds 16 billion yen.

In the process, he has become a cult figure among Japanese day traders, a tight circle of self-taught professionals who take pride in working one of the world’s toughest markets.

CIS has been the subject of much chatter and speculation. A Wikipedia page attempts to track his investment results.

Only a handful of his peers know his real name, and no one has watched him work.

CIS didn’t offer a complete accounting of his investing returns and his wealth for this story, and some of his claims can’t be verified.

He did show multiple 2014 statements from one of his many brokerage accounts, in addition to his 2013 tax return. Those brokerage statements, from SBI Holdings Inc., showed liquid assets ranging from 4.4 billion yen to 4.8 billion yen.

His tax return showed he traded 1.7 trillion yen worth of Japanese equities in 2013 — about half of 1 percent of the value of all the share transactions done by individuals on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. On his busiest day, he says, he bought and sold 70 billion yen worth of stocks.

Gaming Days

CIS, pronounced sis, means death in classical Japanese. The nickname is a holdover from his gaming days, when he used to crush foes in virtual wrestling rings and online fantasy worlds. “Games taught me to think fast and stay calm,” he said over tea at Tokyo’s Hotel Grand Palace a few days after the SoftBank trade.Rail thin, with a shaggy mop of hair, he showed up in a gray sweater, jeans and sneakers. No one would have taken him for a multimillionaire.CIS wants people to know what he’s accomplished; he just doesn’t want them to know who he is. Even after six sit-down interviews over many months, CIS asked not to be named for this story. Married with three kids, he says he’s worried about being targeted for robbery or extortion.Last year was a very good year to be a Japanese day trader. Pushed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Bank of Japan flooded the market with cash via an asset-buying program. On top of that, a relaxation of borrowing limits allowed people trading on margin to roll over loans the instant they exited a position. Taken together, the two made for a potent cocktail.

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