LAHORE The total cement dispatches are likely to remain flat at 12.42 million tons during 5MFY12 (July-Nov) compared to 12.54 million tons in corresponding period last year. According to industry sources, the trend was replicated in local dispatches which portrayed a meagre improvement to 8.67 million tons in 5MFY12 compared to 8.62 million tons in same period last year. However exports are likely to witness a decline of 4 percent to 3.75 million tons as demand from Pakistans major export markets ( Middle East ) was seen slowing down on account of subdued economic activity. In November alone, total cement dispatches are expected to decline by 12 per cent YoY to 2.12 million tons mainly driven by 14 percent decline in exports to 0.586 million tons compared to 0.684 million tons in same period last year. Local dispatches on account of slow down in construction activities in Northern part of Pakistan declined by 11 percent to 1.53 million tons compared to 1.73 million tons in Novermber10. It is to be noted that total cement offtake in October 2011 stood at 2.94 million tons against 2.92 million tons recorded in the same period last year (up 0.7 percent YoY). The contribution of local sales in the overall sales mix continues to increase with domestic dispatches at 2.09 million tons (up 5.8 percent YoY) while exports were recorded at 0.86 million tons (down 9.7 percent YoY). On a MoM basis, total dispatches have recovered by 29 percent with local sales improving by 39 percent, mainly owing to fewer working days in September 2011 because of Eid. Exports too have surged by 8 percent MoM. In 4MFY12, total cement sales jumped by 6 percent YoY to 10.46 million tons due to a lower base as floods had suppressed the sales number last year. Local cement sales have recovered in October 2011 by 39 percent on a MoM basis due to Eid holidays in September 2011. The growth on a YoY basis is less spectacular owing to a higher base in October last year when cement sales rejuvenated (up 43 percent MoM) after floods had suppressed local sales last year. The cumulative 4MFY11 local sales number also makes for an impressive reading, surging by 10.3 percent YoY to 7.27 million tons. Export volumes in October remained lackluster, declining by 9.7 percent YoY to 0.86 million tons. Although on a MoM basis, they have jumped by 8 percent, mainly owing to less working days in September. Interestingly, exports in India have soared to 0.09 million (highest exports to India since May 2008) tons from 0.043 million tons, however the biggest export market continues to be Afghanistan constituting 57 percent of total exports. With cement retail price of over Rs410-415 per bag (Net retention at Rs265-270 per bag) locally, incentive to export remains low. Additionally, demand itself has jaded in many of the export markets. Thus explaining the 26 percent YoY drop in exports via sea to 0.28 million tons. The cumulative 4MFY12 exports also indicate a weak picture, dipping by 2.7 percent YoY to 3.19 million tons. Average retention prices approximately rose by 31 percent YoY in 1QFY12 as the industry has remained adamant on passing through the cost to the end user. Considering this resolute attitude of the industry, it is expected that high cement prices are likely to remain firm, however some volatility in prices maybe be witnessed in view of the arrival of the winter season. Additionally, it is expect overall dispatches to grow by 5.6 percent YoY to 33.2 million tons in FY12.