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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- March 5, 2020 -

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for March 5, 2020

February PMI Barely Shows Manufacturing Growth; UPS Stock a Real Buy, Analyst Says; US Freezer Waehouse Space for Food about Sold Out;  First Autonomous Truck Start up to Fail



That was Purchasing Managers Index for February from the Institute for Supply Management, as released early this week, just barely above the key 50 mark that separates US manufacturing expansion from contraction. That was down from 50.9 in January, but better than the below 50 scores seen from August through December of 2019. It's not clear how much the disruptions being caused by the coronavirus crisis was factored into the number – a large drop might be seen in the March results. Still, ISM says the data show the overall economy grew for the 130th consecutive month, with GDP up in the month at a 2.1% annual rate. The New Orders Index did fall into contraction territory, however, meaning new order activity fell in the month on average, with a score 49.8, a decrease of 2.2 percentage points from the January reading of 52.



That was about the price for UPS stock at the end of trading Wednesday, up almost 5% on the day. But that after UPS had fallen to as low as $90 per share, down from $124 in November and $133 in early 2018. Some Wall Street analysts said that the big drop had turned UPS into a low risk investment with the potential for large gains – especially as with the fall in UPS share price its dividend yield had jumped to an attractive level of more than 4%. In fact, Deutsche Bank analyst Amit Mehrotra turned bullish, saying UPS now appears to be "fully de-risked," raising his rating on UPS to buy from hold. He kept the stock price target at $119, which is about 26% above current levels. He added his view that UPS is one of the most compelling ideas in his coverage following the recent correction, and that [we] "forecast significant upside as focus eventually moves from transitory headwinds to structural earnings power.” We're far from investment analysts here at SCDigest, but UPS shares in the low $90s look like something worth investigating to us too.



That was the rise in the amount of chicken being stored in US warehouse freezers in January, to 957.5 million pounds, which is the highest total ever for the month, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The amount of pork in storage also climbed 11% versus January year-over-year. The reason: what else, the coronavirus disruption that is reducing demand for meat imports from China and some other countries, while exports are being constrained by cancelled ocean container ship sailings to the US and then back to China that would normally carry the meat. And it's a growing problem, as available freezer space in the US was already tight. The Wall Street Journal, for example, reports that Lineage Logistics' cold storage warehouses in shipping hubs like Los Angeles and Seattle are close to full. NewCold, a cold-storage company operating warehouses in Washington and Idaho, has been fielding calls from meat companies, as well as vegetable and bread suppliers, all seeking available storage space, the Journal reports. Big meat sales in the US coming soon to reduce inventories?


$17 Million

That's how much autonomous truck start-up Starsky Robotics raised in 2018 – but those investors got wiped out this week when Starksy said it is shutting its doors due to an inability to raise more money and a market moving in a different direction than its technology. That makes the company what is believed to be the first autonomous truck company to go under. Starksky's technology involved not true autonomous operation, but rather moment-by-moment operation of a heavy-duty truck by a remote operator, hoping to bridge the present freight environment before we get to fully automated operation. But lots of money has been pouring in for true autonomous technology, putting Starksky's approach out of favor, while there are also concerns about the latency of the truck's response for remotely located "drivers."

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