Today's Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ

By Paul Page Features Dow Jones Newswires

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The mega-ship era is starting early at the Port of New York and Jersey -- or at least earlier than the port envisioned. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced the $1.6 billion project to raise the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge will be completed six months ahead of schedule, the WSJ's Paul Berger reports. That means the biggest port on the U.S. East Coast can start hosting larger container ships as soon as June 30, capping off a major step in the changing structure of maritime operations. It's perhaps the most visible of the billions of dollars' worth of initiatives ports have undertaken, from the addition of massive new cranes to ambitious harbor-deepening projects, to adjust to the big ships carriers are adding to their fleets. The shipping industry isn't expecting a massive increase in cargo headed to the port, but port officials say it will allow carriers to lower costs and deliver goods faster to consumers.

A surprising drop in U.S. auto demand is sending shudders through the industry's global supply chain. GM's sales declined 5.8% in April from a year ago, and Ford and Fiat Chrysler reported drops of around 7%, leaving a glut of unsold cars and trucks on dealers' lots. The weak figures threaten a nearly eight-year winning streaK for the auto industry, and some manufacturers are already shutting down some production, the WSj's Adrienne Roberts and Mike Colias report. Auto makers have already scaled back work on passenger cars as fuel prices have remained low, shifting factory output to gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs. But demand for those vehicles is looking shaky as well, putting assembly-line workers and parts suppliers on notice.

Apple Inc. is finding stronger profits in making its sprawling supply chain a bit leaner. The electronics giant reported rising profits and revenues in its latest quarter, the WSJ's Tripp Mickle reports, showing the company has stabilized its business after a slump that saw sales for its big-ticket devices slip. Apple cut its shipments of iPhone units 1% from a year ago, tightening inventories because of tepid demand for its flagship iPhone 7. That translated into stronger price discipline, however, with the average selling price for the phone growing 2.2%. The company is fighting tough competition: Gartner Inc. says global smartphone shipments rose 5% last year, with much of the growth at the cheaper end of the market. With prices for semiconductors and other components rising, Apple appears to be aligning its supply chain to keep its devices in the premium end of the market.

TRANSPORTATION

The prolonged trucking-industry slump hasn't spared many fleets, but few have faced as much upheaval as Celadon Group Inc. The truckload carrier's shares plunged 55% after the company said it could not vouch for financial statements covering more than a year, and posted a $10 million operating loss in the most recent quarter, the WSJ Logistics Report's Jennifer Smith writes. Celadon's problems stem from a big bet on truck leasing a few years ago, with that unit growing from 750 tractors in 2013 to 11,300 last year. Weak freight demand and plunging used-truck prices hit leasing businesses hard. Celadon moved many of those assets off its books last year, but last month drew the attention of short sellers who accused the company of hiding losses. Tuesday's revelations sent shares to a 15-year low, though most other trucking stocks remain up sharply from a year ago, a sign that investors see Celadon's problems as unique to the company.

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QUOTABLE

IN OTHER NEWS

U.S. maritime regulators rejected an application by Japan's big three container lines to operate as a merged company while their transaction is being finalized back home. (WSJ)

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is threatening to reinstate duties on Mexican sugar, after talks between the U.S. and Mexican sugar industries stalled. (WSJ)

Alitalia SpA moved closer to bankruptcy or liquidation as shareholders asked the Italian government to step in. (WSJ)

Monsanto Co. scrapped a deal to sell its high-tech crop planter unit to Deere & Co. following pushback from federal regulators. (WSJ)

Luxury retailer Coach Inc.'s latest results show a turnaround taking shape as its rivals are flailing. (WSJ)

Dutch bicycle maker Accell Group ended takeover talks for a proposed a $951.9 million bid from rival Pon Holdings. (WSJ)

Corporate mergers and acquisitions this year have slid to their lowest level globally in nearly 20 years, according to Dealogic. (WSJ)

The U.K. manufacturing sector grew in April at the fastest pace in three years. (BBC)

The Trump administration is ending a 16-year-old ban on imports of lemons from Argentina. (Associated Press)

Maersk Line says it plans to take 27 new container ships over the next two years to "replace older, less efficient" vessels in its fleet. (The Loadstar)

Developers in Florida are putting together plans for a large distribution center for Amazon.com Inc. near the Orlando International Airport. (Orlando Sentinel)

Kellogg Co. will close its distribution center outside Syracuse, N.Y., as it shifts its logistics operations. (Syracuse Post-Standard)

United Parcel Service Inc. will test the use of hydrogen-powered medium-duty trucks. (Heavy Duty Trucking)

Turkish ports operator Global Ports Holding expects to raise at least $200 million in an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange. (Lloyd's List)

Taiwanese container line Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. halted its services to Iran. (Reuters)

European freight forwarder DSV A/S reported a 75% jump in operating earnings. (Lloyd's Loading List)

Cosco Shipping Holdings swung to a $39.2 million net profit in the first quarter. (Seatrade Maritime)

Two Tesla Inc. executives were named directors of Redwood Materials, a startup focused on recycling manufacturing materials in the supply chain. (CNBC)

The head of prospective freight rail line Great Lakes Basin Transportation wants to add a private toll road to the project. (Chicago Tribune)

ABOUT US

Paul Page is deputy editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow him at @PaulPage, and follow the entire WSJ Logistics Report team: @brianjbaskin, @jensmithWSJ and @EEPhillips_WSJ and follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.

Write to Paul Page at paul.page@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 03, 2017 06:57 ET (10:57 GMT)