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Indiana's development of an interstate highway isn't providing the gleaming example of the power of private investment its backers had hoped to see. The partnership between the state and private investors for the 21-mile stretch of Interstate 69 was signed by Vice President Mike Pence in 2014 when he was the state's governor, but the WSJ's Cameron McWhirter reports the state is taking over a project that is two years behind schedule and only 60% complete. The road's troubles come as more cash-strapped states explore deals with the private sector to back delayed infrastructure projects, and as talks advance in Washington about the potential for private investment in infrastructure. The results in Indiana are a "black eye" for such plans, one backer concedes, and highlight the difficulties such public-private partnerships face in meeting public needs. Still, Indiana is going ahead with other similar deals, even as the state moves without its private partner to get I-69 built.
A slimmer fit is giving a better financial look to some apparel brands. Ralph Lauren Corp. slashed its inventory by nearly a third in the quarter ending July 1 and plans even more cutbacks in distribution to stores, the WSJ's Suzanne Kapner reports, advancing a resizing strategy that helped swing the apparel business from a loss last year to a $59.5 million profit. The results are part of a push by some brands to pull back discounting and look for better profit margins even if overall sales decline. Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. used the strategy to count a better-than-expected $125.5 million profit in the quarter even as same-store sales fell 5.9%. Ralph Lauren is moving more drastically, with sales down 13% last quarter and new plans to pull back inventory at U.S. department stores by up to 25% this year. The company hopes to boost e-commerce sales, perhaps by selling on Amazon.com Inc., and has potential deals with other online retailers in the works.
The traditional milk run won't keep the dairy business running anymore. Dairy distributors are turning to a range of new products and production methods, the WSJ's Mike Cherney and Heather Haddon report, in a bid to win back consumers who have soured on milk. U.S. milk sales are down 11% by volume since 2000. The decline is part of an extensive and ongoing shift in consumer tastes that's boosted sales of plant-based milk substitutes and sent packaged foods like breakfast cereals into a tailspin. That's led to products like "ultra-filtered" milk with more calcium and protein and pushed producers toward genetic testing of cows to ensure they produce milk that doesn't cause indigestion. The alternative on some farms has been to drop distribution by pouring milk into fields. Farmers in parts of the Northeast and Midwest dumped more than 250 million pounds of milk last year, and they're on pace to dump even more this year.
GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS
Changes in smartphone technology are sending deep cracks through the business of Apple Inc. supplier Japan Display Inc. The embattled screen maker is slashing nearly 30% of its global workforce, shrinking operations and likely looking for a partner abroad, the WSJ's Takashi Mochizuki reports, as the business patched together by Japan's government looks to survive in a fast-changing electronics world. More than 50% of the company's revenue comes from the liquid-display panels for Apple, but the iPhone maker is expected to move to a new kind of screen, called organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, which Japan Display doesn't make. The cash-strained business has fallen behind in research on screens, the WSJ's Jacky Wong writes, as other manufacturers have advanced new technology. Japan Display now may need a partner in China or Taiwan to hold onto its place in Apple's supply chain.
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An electronics startup plans to find out whether there is room in the sprawling smartphone supply chain for one more entrant. Essential Products Inc., founded by the creator of Google's Android mobile software, says it has a $300 million war chest to back the seemingly insurmountable task of taking on Apple and Samsung Electronics Inc. Backers include China's Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Amazon's Alexa Fund, the WSJ's Rolfe Winkler reports, and Best Buy Co. stores and Amazon are retail launch partners in the U.S. Essential is trying to duplicate Apple's brand affinity by building a hardware-software ecosystem that spurs development of a range of accessories. What's not clear so far is where those products will be built and how the business will match the established rivals' seamless distribution.
IN OTHER NEWS
U.S. worker productivity picked up modestly in the second quarter. (WSJ)
A potential U.S. trade crackdown on China is being delayed as the Trump administration courts China's cooperation over North Korea's nuclear program. (WSJ)
The White House is considering whether to approve a report prepared by 13 federal agencies that says humans are responsible for climate change. (WSJ)
Franklin strengthened into the first Atlantic hurricane of the season as it headed toward Mexico's Veracruz state. (WSJ)
Canadian housing starts rose 4.4% in July, exceeding market expectations by a significant margin. (WSJ)
Shrinking industrial space on New York's Long Island has some businesses looking off the island entirely. (WSJ)
U.S. wholesale inventories increased more than previously reported in June, recording their biggest gain in six months. (CNBC)
Online mattress company Casper is expanding its sales and delivery service to a broad line of sleep-related products. (Fast Company)
Hong Kong antitrust regulators denied a block exemption for shipping companies to exchange sensitive market information. (South China Morning Post)
Loaded container imports into the Port of Virginia jumped 9.1% year-over-year in July. (Virginian-Pilot)
Campbell Soup Co. will test e-commerce logistics at a 740,000-square-foot distribution center it has started building in Findlay, Ohio. (The Courier)
Brooks Running Co. is building a 400,000-square-foot distribution center outside Indianapolis. (Indianapolis Business Journal)
Flatbed trucker Daseke Inc. lost $4.1 million in the second quarter, its second straight quarterly loss since going public. (Heavy Duty Trucking)
U.K. freight carrier CargoLogicAir will launch scheduled services with operations between London, Atlanta and Mexico City. (CAAS)
Growth in ocean tanker capacity is exceeding expanding oil trade, washing away hopes of carrier earnings gains. (Lloyd's List)
The U.S. Coast Guard has started using 3D printing technology to make spare parts on ships at sea. (Maritime Executive)
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. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.
Write to Paul Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 10, 2017 06:31 ET (10:31 GMT)