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Keyence’s sunken treasure

Keyence, a Japanese company with a bn market capitalisation, specialises in making all sorts of electronic widgets used in the automation of factory assembly lines. It also has a bulging bank balance that, even by the standards of conservative Japan, stands out.Last week the manufacturer reported second-quarter results up to September 20, and our eyes immediately turned to one figure: ¥1.4tn (.5bn) of retained earnings. Of that pile, .6bn is held in a mix of cash and investments.The numbers may not seem surprising in isolation, as stories of risk averse, cash-hoarding Japanese businesses have been well told. But the amazing thing about Keyence is just how much cash it has saved since 2000, relative to its investment in what is regarded as a good business.Some corporate finance

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Keyence, a Japanese...

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