Today's Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ

By Paul Page Features Dow Jones Newswires

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Detroit and Silicon Valley are getting closer together than ever. Delphi Automotive PLC, one of the top names in auto manufacturing supply chains, is going all-in on technology in the car industry with a restructuring plan aimed at making the company a bigger player in the race to develop self-driving cars. The WSJ's Chester Dawson reports the automotive parts supplier will spin off its engine-components unit into a separate company, a move designed to allow the remaining company to focus on advanced electronics business. The move comes as Delphi is trying to keep pace with Silicon Valley companies and other tech firms that are pushing into the auto industry, giving the technology behind new vehicles greater weight in production decisions than the traditional components makers. Delphi's advanced electronics business has grown to $12 billion and is its top revenue generator, far outpacing the $4.5 billion engine business, a sign of how automotive supply chains have been turned inside out.

Delphi isn't the only parts maker looking for a new role in a technology-driven business. Canadian components supplier Magna International Inc. is adding Tony Fadell, the co-creator of Apple Inc.'s iPod and founder of Alphabet Inc.'s Nest Labs, to a tech advisory council that is supposed to guide the company through the big changes underway in auto supply chains. Mr. Fadelll tells the WSJ's Tim Higgins that Magna is navigating an "explosion of mobility" that's hitting the auto industry through technology that brings automation and connectivity to cars. The parts suppliers are acting as the car companies themselves are striking deals with self-driving technology specialists, and investors are raising doubts that traditional manufacturers in the $2 trillion U.S. auto market can keep up with the tech companies. Magna, which assembles vehicles for auto makers in addition to supplying parts such as seating, powertrains and vision systems, has a big stake in the outcome.

Growing stockpiles of corn, soybeans and other crops are burying profits at grain traders. The world's largest traders, including Bunge Ltd. and Archer Daniels Midland Co., are struggling with earnings, the WSJ's Jacob Bunge reports, as record-breaking harvests and forecasts for big crops ahead rattle their businesses. Bumper crops from Iowa to Eastern Europe had seemed like a boon to grain traders, which buy crops from farmers and grain cooperatives, and market them to food companies. But White Plains, N.Y.-based Bunge says there's a standoff between farmers reluctant to sell crops at low prices, and food processors with little incentive to purchase commodities in advance while prices are expected to stay low. For now, time may be on the grain merchants' side: Bunge says farmers in Brazil may need to start selling because they simply don't have the storage space for an expected record soybean and corn crop.

E-COMMERCE

A Pennsylvania-based toy company provides a tough lesson in the outsize role Amazon.com Inc. marketplace has with small sellers. Bleacher Creatures LLC, which sells plush toy Disney movie characters, famous athletes and sports mascots, is heading into bankruptcy, the WSJ's Katy Stech reports, and the company blames a sales decline that came after some license partners would no longer allow the items to be sold on Amazon. The company also sells toys through major retailers like Target Corp. and Toys "R" Us Inc., but has tried to ramp up sales direct to consumers through its own online platform as e-commerce has sliced into business at traditional storefronts. But its own online sales have lagged, and its stringent licensing deals with big brands kept the goods off Amazon. The company is trying to push through a sale under bankruptcy protection, but it will have to find a better path online to survive over the long term.

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QUOTABLE

IN OTHER NEWS

Economic growth in the eurozone accelerated to a 1.8% annualized rate in the first quarter. (WSJ)

Private employers added 177,000 jobs in the U.S. in April. (WSJ)

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says.U.S. farmers and ranchers won't be worse off after the Trump administration renegotiates Nafta. (WSJ)

Big banks are pulling back sharply from auto loans, helping drive a drop in car sales and raising fears a slump may deepen. (WSJ)

Greece and its international creditors reached an agreement on economic overhauls the country needs to keep its bailout program going. (WSJ)

Tesla Inc.'s first-quarter loss widened as the company cranked up spending on production to meet strong new sales growth. (WSJ)

XPO Logistics Inc. swung to a $19.5 million profit in the first quarter despite a slight decline in revenue. (Transport Topics)

North American heavy-duty truck orders rose 4% from March to April, to 23,900 orders. (Commercial Carrier Journal)

Tyson Foods Inc. plans to eliminate the use of antibiotics in its chickens by the end of 2018. (USA Today)

Forecasters expect cotton farmers to expand production by about 5% in the coming season, including 12% expansion in the U.S. (Sourcing Journal)

Shipping lines say major congestion that began at the Port of Shanghai is spreading to other Chinese gateways. (Splash 24/7)

Amazon plans to open 14 distribution centers in India this year, giving the company 41 in the country. (Times of India)

United Parcel Service Inc. acquired Irish express delivery company Nightline Logistics Group. (Logistics Management)

Freight forwarder Panalpina bought t wo regional logistics operators, Denmark's Carelog Freight Service and Kenyan perishables specialist Air Connection. (Air Cargo News)

Japanese steelmakers are looking for new ingredient suppliers to reduce their risk from dependence on imports from China and India. (Nikkei Asian Review)

Seattle-area officials say concentrated container volumes from new shipping alliances are causing congestion on roads near the Port of Seattle. (KOMO)

British researchers say underwater noise from vessels could cause hearing loss among seals in busy shipping lanes. (BBC)

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 04, 2017 06:53 ET (10:53 GMT)