Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Note to Jack Sparrow: Don’t Mess with Seaspan

seaspan-photo.jpgThe giant container ships that have come to all but define globalization can be as long as three-and-a-half soccer fields (and roughly that long in terms of football pitches if you’re reading this outside the United States).

The latest and greatest of them come with all sorts of new technology for navigation, managing their load and cutting down on fuel costs.

That got us thinking at this year’s Reuters Manufacturing Summit: what kind of technology are shipping companies putting in to repel pirates, who in some widely publicized cases have taken over ships in the seas off Somalia or in the Straits of Malacca, near Indonesia and Malaysia.

We posed the piracy question to Seaspan CEO Gerry Wang. The bottom line: if you’re Captain Hook or Jack Sparrow, don’t try to steal one of these babies.

Audio – Consolidating the shippers

wang1.jpgThe credit crunch that’s curtailing access to funding for many companies may lead to consolidation among companies that own and operate shipping lines.

Container ships are not cheap, and they take years to build, so investors who order one have to do so well ahead of time. Some have overextended themselves, and may now be ripe takeover candidates.

Audio – Unemotional Rescue

tellock2.jpg(With apologies to Mick, Keith and the boys)

The Rolling Stones were desperately looking for someone to come to their emotional rescue when they released their album of the same name in 1980.

But Manitowoc Chief Executive Glen Tellock was feeling very unemotional on Wednesday when speaking to the Reuters Manufacturing Summit about one of the company’s three businesses.

Audio – Growth Near and Far

owens2.jpgCaterpillar’s Chief Executive Jim Owens was in a lot better mood than many of his colleagues have been this week.

While most of the guests at this year’s Reuters Manufacturing Summit have been a little down in the mouth about the state of the U.S. economy, Owens was in pretty good spirits when he spoke at the summit on Tuesday.

Audio – Caterpillar boss: Don’t fear the spread

owens1.jpgCaterpillar Chief Executive Jim Owens spoke about the possible spread of the recent housing crisis and other economic worries at the annual Reuters Manufacturing Summit.

While there is always the chance that the housing and residential construction crisis could extend beyond those businesses directly touched by it, he did not see it as a major concern just yet. 

Audio – Commodities giveth and commodities taketh away

griffith.jpgHigh commodities’ costs have been much on the minds of almost all of the executives at this year’s Reuters Manufacturing Summit.

For Timken Co Chief Executive Jim Griffith, the question is one the diversified company is addressing on a real-time basis and one it has gained some pricing power with its customers.

Audio – Flying high, now. Tomorrow, too.

cote1.jpg(With apologies to Rocky Balboa)

The global aerospace industry has been one of the real success stories of the past five years and, according to Honeywell Chief Executive Dave Cote, there’s more growth to come.

Despite concerns about the overall economy, Cote said at the Reuters Manufacturing Summit on Tuesday that the sector looks poised to continue to fly high.

Audio – Can Chinese car crashes be good for business?

herb1.jpgTurns out, they can! 

Global industrial companies have talked for years about the soaring demand in China for energy, infrastructure, machinery, know-how — you name it. But who knew car crashes could be good for business?

Well, according to Ingersoll-Rand CEO Herb Henkel, Chinese drivers’ poor safety record helps illustrate how China’s economy is becoming more consumer driven.

Audio – Peak? What peak?

agco1.jpgInvestors are always on the look-out for a peak.

In order to sock away some serious cash, the smart investor needs to identify a company’s and a businesses’ peaks and make their moves accordingly. Identifying a top (and a bottom, for that matter) allows stockholders clear entry and exit points.

While certain commodity costs have risen to bubble-type levels, others look like they might still have a ways to go higher, said Agco Chief Executive Martin Richenhagen. Unlike other bubbles, Richenhagen doesn’t see a burst.

Audio – Hey, where did the ‘challenging’ go?

stropki.jpgIn years past, business executives have used all kinds of buzz words that generated the expected amout of skepticism from people like reporters and editors who are lucky enough to read a lot of press releases.

One year, it’s “right-sizing” (That’s not good).

The next, it’s “head-winds” (Generally, that comes shortly before the right-sizing).