Windfalls for pallets and bearings

Two industries in our factory operating materials and supplies report are enjoying A+ margin grades. This means the combination of rising product prices and falling manufacturing costs has created an inflation windfall for producers of wooden pallets (SIC 2448), as well as ball and roller bearings (SIC 3562).


Two industries in our factory operating materials and supplies report are enjoying A+ margin grades. This means the combination of rising product prices and falling manufacturing costs has created an inflation windfall for producers of wooden pallets (SIC 2448), as well as ball and roller bearings (SIC 3562). Effective negotiations could help plant managers to garner their share of the windfall.

In the wood pallets and skids industry, average manufacturing costs fell 5.6% between January 2001 and January 2000, while prices increased less than 1%. The cost/ price mismatch resulted in a profit margin windfall of $4.43 for every $100 worth of pallets sold on average. That is money that buyers of pallets can attack and perhaps win, especially with end-market demand for wood pallets on the decline.

In January 2001, industry prices for bearings rose another 0.36% despite a 0.20% drop in the cost of making a typical unit of industry output. With January's price and cost trends diverging, ball and roller bearing manufacturers stand to gain $0.29 in margins for each $100 of product sold.

Price/cost/demand roundup

Industry SIC Average Product Prices1 Change, %, During 12-Mo Ending... Oct 00 Average Product Prices1 Change, %, During 12-Mo Ending... Jan 01 Direct Mfg. Costs2 and Margins Grade Costs are... Direct Mfg. Costs2 and Margins Grade, Grade Growth in U.S. End Markets3 Change, % During 12-Mo Ending...Oct 00 Growth in U.S. End Markets3 Change, % During 12-Mo Ending... Jan 01
Wood pallets and skids24480.020.08FallingA+3.331.83
Polishes and sanitation goods28421.832.33StableF3.913.20
Surface active agents28430.231.58StableF1.520.07
Adhesives and sealants28910.641.50StableD14.8714.98
Lubricating oils and greases29925.797.63StableD10.9010.72
Rubber and plastics hose and belting3052-0.150.43StableC7.866.29
Abrasive products3291-0.15-0.12StableF15.9016.37
Steel wire and related products3315-0.66-0.46FallingD5.914.33
Copper rolling and drawing33517.586.24FallingD37.4140.41
Nonferrous wire drawing and insulating33575.226.10FallingC37.4239.53
Heating equipment, except electric34331.071.16StableB4.272.65
Fabricated plate work, boiler shops34431.161.17StableB6.426.15
Bolts, nuts, rivets, and washers3452-0.27-0.16FallingD6.084.51
Industrial valves34911.141.30StableB5.074.15
Fluid power valves and hose fittings34921.721.55StableB5.074.15
Other valves and pipe fittings34940.871.17StableA5.074.15
Miscellaneous fabricated wire products34960.24-0.03StableC12.3611.18
Fabricated pipe and fittings34982.812.96StableD5.074.15
Ball and roller bearings35621.091.40StableA+9.508.34

1 Average product price changes are calculated from the producer price index for each 4-digit SIC (standard industrial classification) industry from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2 Analyses of each industry's direct manufacturing cost changes are from Thinking Cap Solutions, Inc.'s proprietary Industry Cost Escalation (ICE) model. The "grade" indicates that recent price/cost changes have produced record high (A+) margins to average margins (C) to record low (F-) margins for the average producer in an industry. Grades of A to A+ mean plant engineers may be able to strike a better bargain with suppliers and better control plant costs.

3 Growth in U.S. end markets data are from the ICE model and are estimates of output for the domestic end markets which purchase a given industry's products.

All data prepared and presented by Thinking Cap Solutions, Inc., Port Angeles, WA (telephone: 360-452-6159; e-mail:

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