(Bloomberg) -- Nomura Holdings Inc. shares have trailed this year’s Japanese stock market rally amid concerns about profitability at the nation’s largest brokerage. 

Shares of Nomura have climbed 6% this year, less than the 17% gain in the benchmark Topix, which earlier touched a 33-year high. Rival Daiwa Securities Group Inc. has advanced 18%. 

Nomura last month slashed its midterm earnings targets across the firm’s main businesses and said it plans a review to revive profitability after net income fell for a third straight year. Return on equity slipped to 3.1%, well below a goal of 8% to 10% over the medium term.

“The level of profits and return on equity are very low,” said Natsumu Tsujino, senior analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. While the recent stock market rebound may improve the domestic business for institutional investors, Tsujino is skeptical about progress of structural reforms in the retail division.

A Nomura spokesperson said the company will steadily implement its strategy to improve ROE and carefully communicate with its stakeholders.

For Japanese securities companies, a boom in the stock market was once a tailwind for their shares on expectations that it would spur earnings. Nomura rode that wave during the rally triggered by stimulus policies ushered in by then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a decade ago. 

“Nomura’s stock price was boosted by the rise in trading value during the Abenomics market, but the current business model is structured in such a way that earnings are not easily generated,” said Mitsushige Akino, a senior executive officer of Ichiyoshi Asset Management.

Amid intensifying competition from online brokerages, Nomura is trying to shift its retail business away from relying on commissions from stock trading for clients and toward earning more stable recurring fees from asset management. 

Christopher Willcox, the firm’s wholesale banking head, said in an interview earlier this year that he plans to bolster its business associated with Japanese equities, including selling stock products to institutional clients abroad.

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