Pakistan's Double Digit Growth in Cement Demand in January

Domestic cement consumption surged 10.10% in Pakistan in January 2013, according to All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association. On top of 8% increase in Fiscal Year 2011-12, it jumped another 8% for the first seven months of Fiscal Year 2012-13.

Cement production is an important barometer of national economic activity,  according to a research report compiled by a Credit Suisse analyst.  Last year, CS analyst Farhan Rizvi said in his report that "higher PSDP (Public Sector Development Program) spending has led to a resurgence in domestic cement demand in FY12 (+8%) and with increased PSDP allocation for FY13 (+19%) and General Elections due in 2013, domestic demand is likely to remain robust over the next six-nine months".

Ongoing public sector projects include new large and small dams, irrigation canals, power plants, highways, rapid transit systems, flyovers, airports, seaports, etc. Most of these were already in the pipeline when the PPP government assumed control in 2008. Recent pre-election increases in PSDP funding allowed work to resume on these projects in 2011-12.

 In addition to public sector infrastructure projects, there is a lot of privately funded real estate development activity visible in all major cities of the country.

Ocean Tower Karachi
Among the high-profile new construction projects completed this month is Ocean Tower in Karachi. At 393 feet high with 30 floors, it is now the tallest building in Pakistan. Ocean Tower has a shopping mall, food courts, corporate offices, a business club, car-parking area and 4 cinemas.

The Centaurus Islamabad
The Centaurus, at 361 feet, is another new project in Islamabad completed this month. It consists of three towers---office tower, residential tower and a 5-star hotel. The three will be linked by a shopping mall.

Big real estate developers like Bahria Town and Habib Construction are developing both commercial and housing projects in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. Other cities like Faisalabad, Hyderabad, Larkana, Multan, Mirpur, Peshawar and Quetta are also seeing new housing communities, golf courses, hotels, office complexes, restaurants, shopping malls, etc.

Per capita cement consumption in Pakistan was only 70 Kg in 2003. It has more than doubled in the last decade.  With back-to-back increases in domestic cement demand, per capita consumption has now risen to 154 Kg which is still below average for Asia. But the rising demand is a good sign of economic recovery since 2009 when the GDP growth hit a low of 1.7%.

Centaurus Mall Opening Day

Credit Suisse is bullish on Pakistan's cement sector in particular and Pakistani shares in general.

CS analyst Farhan Rizvi has initiated coverage with "an OVERWEIGHT stance, as we believe compelling valuations, improving domestic demand outlook, better pricing power and easing cost pressures make the sector an attractive investment proposition. Despite better growth prospects (3-year CAGR of 17% over FY12-15E) and improving margins, the sector trades at an attractive FY13E EV/EBITDA of 3.8x, 49% discount to the historical average multiple of 7.4x. Moreover, FY13E EV/tonne of US$74 is approximately 29% discount to historical average EV/tonne of US$104 and 50% discount to the region".

A New Housing Construction Project in Rawalpindi

Another CS analyst Farrukh Khan, based in Credit Suisse’ Asia Pacific headquarters in Singapore,says in his research report that “liquidity in 2012 has been concentrated in stocks offering positive earnings surprises (e.g., United Bank, Lucky Cement, DG Khan Cement and Bank Alfalah), enabling them to be strong outperformers. With further improvements in liquidity, we expect a broad-based price discovery to take hold in attractively valued oil and fertilizer stocks as well.”

 A string of strong earnings announcements by Karachi Stock Exchange listed companies and the Central Bank's 1.5% rate cut have already helped Karachi's KSE-100 index surge nearly 50% (37% in US $ terms) in 2012 to top all Asian market indices. It was followed by Bangkok's SET index which advanced 36%. It also easily beat India's Sensex index which was the top performer among BRICs with 25.19% annual gain.

Related Links:

 Haq's Musings

Pakistan's GDP Grossly Underestimated, Shares Highly Undervalued

Investment Analysts Bullish on Pakistan

Precise Estimates of Pakistan's Informal Economy

Comparing Pakistan and Bangladesh in 2012

Pak Consumer Boom  Fuels Underground Economy

Rural Consumption Boom in Pakistan

Pakistan's Tax Evasion Fosters Aid Dependence

Poll Finds Pakistanis Happier Than Neighbors

Pakistan's Rural Economy Booming

Pakistan Car Sales Up 61%

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers

Land For Landless Women in Pakistan

Pakistan's Circular Debt and Load-shedding


Riaz Haq said…
Here's Daily Times on KSE-100 setting new records:

KARACHI: Karachi stock market on Wednesday registered yet another record session led by exploration and production (E&P) stocks that poured in sufficient gains for the benchmark to stand strong at historic high.

Analysts said high turnover were witnessed which was 10 months high during the session reflective of growing confidence among investors.

The Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) 100-share index gained 120.45 points as the KSE-100 share index closed at 17,408.52 points compared to 17,288.07 points of the previous session. The KSE 30-share index was up by 109.15 points to close at 14,232.38 points as compared with 14,123.23 points of the previous session.

The market turnover went up by 33.31 percent and traded 335.61 million shares after opening at 251.75 million shares. The overall market capitalisation surged by 0.41 percent and traded Rs 4.346 trillion compared to Rs 4.328 trillion of the previous session. Gainers beat losers by 202 to 130 while 24 stocks remained unchanged.

Market saw yet another record high crossing 17,400-mark with 10 months high volume of 336 million shares. Market saw aggressive institutional buying in hope caretaker government would soon take charge. Once again telecom sector remained in limelight where WorldCall, Wateen Telecome and Telecard contributing 24 percent of total volume, said Samar Iqbal Equity Dealer at Topline Sec.

The KMI 30-share index gained 319.78 points to close at 30,125.99 points from its opening at 29,806.21 points. The KSE all-share index closed with a gain of 52.35 points to close at 12,263.70 points as against 12,211.35 points.

Husnein Asghar Ali Chief Operating Officer Escorts Capital said in different from various external concerns the local equity market registered yet another record session led by E&P stocks. The telecom sector led by Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) on result sensation and positive impact of rather confusing international incoming call revenues, despite the proposal wrapped by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) after order from High Court on the intervention of CCOP, along with hefty trade in Engro and Efoods allowed the turnover to stand by the gains. Although presence of values continue to justify gains despite negativity from external factors of the orbit that has seemingly cautioned the short term traders, upcoming monetary policy that continue to stay a valid trigger for the local equities in an otherwise a gloomy external environment, cautious activity is therefore suggested, the stocks likely to advance further despite various visible concerns can be looked for placements, while strength can be looked for sector and stock swapping to maximise the gains.

Pakistan Oilfields Limited (POL) and DG Khan Cement (DGKC) was indeed high demand led premium in T+2 (ready board) while Feb Forward (T+30) was trading at discount (known as ulta badla), the future spread trading negative offered extra trading gains for the ‘held for trading’ portfolios carrying POL and DGKC.

WorldCall Telecom was the volume leader in the share market with 53.42 million shares as it closed at Rs 3.49 after opening at Rs 2.86 gaining 63 paisas. TRG Pakistan traded 33.85 million shares as it closed at Rs 8.28 from its opening at Rs 7.28 gaining Rs 1.00. Wateen Telecom traded 24.51 million shares and closed at Rs 3.34 compared to its opening at Rs 2.99 gaining 35 paisas. PTCL traded 22.91 million shares as it closed at Rs 20.31 against its opening at Rs 19.39 gaining 91 paisas.\02\07\story_7-2-2013_pg5_16
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a report Pakistan PM pushing development projects and welfare program as election nears:

DASU - Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Friday laid the foundation for construction of Thahkot-Dasu Road and vowed to continue development work for the masses despite opposition.
The road will be 63 kilometres long and would cost Rs 2 billion.
Addressing a gathering after the foundation stone-laying ceremony, the prime minister raised the Hard Area allowance for Kohistan to 40 percent, as was the practice in other areas.
He also directed the WAPDA chairman to immediately fulfil the promises made to the local people and warned of swift action in case of non-compliance.
The PM directed for repair of schools by the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (ERRA) and promised increase in quota of the area in medical and engineering colleges.
Ashraf was earlier briefed about the Thahkot-Dasu Road project that would be completed in 30 months and provide an easy access to the 4,320MW Dasu Power Project besides serving as an alternative route to Karakoram Highway.
The prime minister strongly dismissed criticism against the development projects of the government. “We will not stop serving the masses or stop development work as it benefits them.”
The prime minister also rejected the criticism against the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and said it was a service for the poorest of the poor and would not be allowed to end. He said the people of Pakistan would continue to support this programme through the power of the ballot.
Ashraf said BISP would continue and would be further expanded.
Addressing critics, he said the government would raise the disbursement amount to Rs 5,000 and even Rs 10,000.
The prime minister added that the government did not have time to indulge in mud slinging or to counter the propaganda of the critics, as it was busy in initiating developmental projects for the masses.
“There is no need to teach us what democracy is and how to serve the masses,” he said.
“We are not among those who run away, we will stand up and fight the critics and prove that the people of Pakistan see the PPP as a sign of hope that will not shy from any sacrifice to serve them.”
He said it was his desire to meet the people of Kohistan who were ardent supporters of Pakistan People’s Party. He said he too was an ordinary worker of the PPP and believed in the vision of the martyred leaders - Zufikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto.
Riaz Haq said…
Karachi is now following the example of Lahore to build a mass transit system...a combiatiion of trains (Karachi Circular Railway or KCR) and buses (Bus Rapid Transit or BRT). Here's an ET report:

KARACHI: Progress on the much-awaited Bus Rapid Transport System project is expected to move a step further, when the government awards consultancy rights to a consortium of companies led by the global auditing firm KPMG, officials told The Express Tribune on Monday.

KPMG has been hired as the financial adviser for the project, with the National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak) and Mohsin Tayebaly and Company responsible for technical and legal affairs, respectively.

While the formal agreement is expected to be signed in a few days, it would take another 13 months before construction kicks off on the first part of the project, the 22-kilometre-long Yellow Line, which would connect Dawood Chowrangi in Landhi to Numaish in Saddar. Nespak is already undertaking the BRTS project in Lahore, which is near completion.

“Now we would decide what needs to be done with the route. For example, deciding whether there is a need for [creating] an overhead passage at any point,” said an official. “A feasibility study needs to be carried out before we can finalise costing and other financial details. Finally, we will look for an investor.” The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) had earlier put the expected cost of the Yellow Line at around Rs2 billion, and set 2014 as its launch year.

The transit system involves dedicated buses lanes, which would crisscross roads and bridges. Around 13,000 passengers are expected to use the system in Karachi every hour, which would cut current travelling time by almost half. Buses will run on reserved tracks, at an average speed of 25 kilometres per hour (kmph), well above the average vehicular speed in the city of 17 kmph....

Here's a BR report on KCR:

The ECC which met here under the chairmanship of Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh was informed that Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has already agreed to provide 93.5pc ($2.4 billion) of the estimated cost through soft loan at a markup of 0.2pc payable in 40 years including 10 years grace period. The remaining 6.5pc ($169.6 million) will be borne by the Ministry of Railway (60pc equity), Government of Sindh (25pc equity) and the City District Government Karachi (15pc equity); the stakeholders of KUTC as per their share.

The track of the KCR will be 86 km long with 27 stations to be built around the city.

This important project will be a milestone in improving the quality of life of the citizens....
Riaz Haq said…
Here's more from ET on Lahore Metrobus:

A total of 45 buses have been imported from Turkey which will be driven by Turkish drivers on a single track in Lahore. The buses will stop at 27 stations that cover the entire Lahore. First station is at Gaju Mata and the last one is at Shaadra.

A one-of-a-kind nine kilometer long flyover has been constructed solely for the metro bus. It connects one end of Lahore with the other. Buses will commute on this flyover. The modern system of electronic ticketing has been introduced at all the stations; waterproof escalators have been installed for the elderly, and a squad for security and maintenance has been appointed.

The stations and the entire route of this larger-than-life metro system are up to international standards. Commuting in Lahore will now become as easy as commuting in London city or Bangkok. The only difference is we will have buses instead of trains and they will be manual instead of electronic.

The inauguration of this mega project is today.

After being postponed a couple of times, Shahbaz Sharif has finally given the confirmed date. For the initial four weeks, the buses will be free for all the commuters. However, the fare is extremely cheap. From what I’ve heard, the cost of a ticket from the first to the last station will be as low as Rs45!

Until now, every feature of this yet-to-function project seems to be perfect, but will it be successful?

Will the squad for maintaining cleanliness and security live up to the expectations?

Will all the 45 buses work efficiently for a long period of time?

Most importantly, how will the masses react to this state-of-the-art system?
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Daily Times on 10% increase in overseas remittances in first 7 months of FY2012-13:

KARACHI: Overseas Pakistani workers remitted an amount of $8,206.39 million in the first seven months (July to January) of the current fiscal year 2012-13 (FY13), showing a growth of 10.36 percent or $770.41 million when compared with $7,435.98 million received during the same period of last fiscal year (July to January 2011-12).

The inflow of remittances in July to January 2013 from Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA, UK, GCC countries (including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman), and EU countries amounted to $2,292.02 million, $1,669.36 million, $1,324.00 million, $1,155.35 million, $941.83 million and $217.89 million, respectively as compared with the inflow of $2,008.47 million, $1,644.34 million, $1,328.31 million, $853.47 million, $845.41 million and $215.64 million, respectively in July to January 2012. Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries during the first seven months of current fiscal year (July to January FY13) amounted to $605.89 million as against $540.34 million received in the first seven months of last fiscal year (July to January FY12).

The monthly average remittances for July to January 2013 period comes out to $1,172.34 million as compared to $1,062.28 million during the corresponding period of the last fiscal year.

An amount of $1,089.64 million was remitted by overseas Pakistanis in January 2013 as against $ 1,110.64 million in the same month of the last fiscal year (January 2012).

In January 2013, the inflow of remittances from Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA, UK, GCC countries (including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman), and EU countries amounted to $331.40 million, $208.46 million, $168.46 million, $150.34 million, $130.65 million and $29.12 million, respectively as compared with the inflow of $346.58 million, $ 231.42 million, $178.07 million, $127.12 million, $124.22 million and $26.50 million, respectively in January 2012. Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries during the seventh month of the current fiscal year (January FY13) amounted to $71.21 million as against $76.73 million received in the seventh month of last fiscal year (January 2012).

The continued growth in workers’ remittances is the result of the efforts made by Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI) in collaboration with other stakeholders to facilitate both overseas Pakistanis and their families back home. Since its inception, PRI has taken a number of steps to enhance the flow of remittances through formal channels which include; (a) preparation of national strategies on remittances (b) taking all necessary steps to implement the overall strategy (c) playing the advisory role for financial sector in terms of preparing a business case, relationship building with overseas correspondents, creating separate efficient remittance payment highways and (d) becoming a national focal point for overseas Pakistanis through round the clock call centre with toll free lines, separate web site etc.

It may be recalled that in order to provide an ownership structure in Pakistan for remittance facilitation, the government of Pakistan through State Bank of Pakistan, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and the Ministry of Finance had launched a joint initiative called PRI in April 2009. This initiative has been taken to achieve the objective of facilitating and supporting faster, cheaper, convenient and efficient flow of remittances.

workers’ remittances :

Saudi Arabia $331.40m $346.58m

UAE $208.46m $ 231.42m

USA $168.46m $178.07m

UK $150.34m $127.12m

GCC countries $130.65m $124.22m

EU countries $29.12m $26.50m
Riaz Haq said…
Gold imports in Pakistan up 23% July-Nov 2012, reports Daily Times:

KARACHI: Yellow metal imports during July to November 2012 in the country increased by 23 percent or Rs 7.12 billion as against Rs 5.78 billion in July to November 2011, precious metal importers said on Thursday.

The traders imported around 1,393 kilogrammes (kgs) of gold during this period, they added.

In November 2012, gold imports stood at 298 kgs worth Rs 1.57 billion, which was up around 357 percent as compared to November 2011.

Due to lower international prices of the yellow metal, import reamined on the higher side in November 2012 as it dipped around $128 an ounce, said a metal expert in London Saleem Ahmad.

Usually yellow metal importers make deals for the precious commodity with traders in Dubai, India and South Africa.

Major deals are made with Dubai based gold traders while due to lower gold future prices in India, the domestic traders also made deals. In India the gold prices are hovering around Rs 32,000 per 10 grammes while in Pakistan 10 grammes of gold is available at around Rs 53,200.

Rising demand in domestic markets for the wedding season also pushed gold imports up besides declining international prices also attracted the domestic importers to fortify their long position in anticipation of futures rising prices. Gold remained a haven for the hedging purpose besides it is the safest investment for hedgers as compared to stocks, where shares prices are always uncertain.

Gold prices in Pakistan bullion market are hovering at around Rs 62,200 per tola. Safest haven for investment hedging became the driving force behind buying, he added.

The yellow metal import’s rise was attributed to large buying by institutional and hedge fund that kept the momentum of the gold price to go up besides physical buying from India and China.

Hedging in gold is still on the higher side as it touched a new high around 80 percent in 11 months of 2012.

Meanwhile, the gold importers demanded of the government to announce duty cut on import of the commodity.

The government should announce around Rs 100 per tola duty cut in order to lower its prices in the domestic market besides providing relief to exporters of gold ornaments in the international market.

Currently the duty on import is around Rs 550 per tola and due to higher dollar value against the rupee, the local demand for the commodity is declining.

The government should provide duty relief on 3.0 kgs imports of gold on every 10 kgs of jewellery exports, exporters demanded.

Gold is expected to touch $1,800 an ounce in the next year or so on back of the Fed measures to boost interest in gold exchange-traded funds, among the vehicles that issue securities, backed by physical metal.\12\28\story_28-12-2012_pg5_3
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Emirates 24-7 report on a massive property investment deal between Abu Dhabi Group and Malik Riaz:

UAE’s Abu Dhabi Group and Pakistani real estate tycoon Malik Riaz on Friday signed a deal to invest $45 billion (Dh165.15 billion) in Pakistan including building the world’s tallest building in Karachi.

Pakistan’s news channel Geo reported today that $35 billion (Dh165.15 billion) will be pumped in Sindh province while the rest will be invested in Lahore and Islamabad.

Under the deal, Sports City, International City, Media City, Educational and Medical City will be built in Pakistan’s financial capital. The news channel said that world’s Seven Wonders will also be built as part of the project.

The deal is expected to generate over 2.5 million jobs in Pakistan.

The channel, however, didn’t reveal the time for the completion of the project.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET report on soaring profits at Nestle Pakistan:

Profits at Nestle Pakistan shot up in 2012 as the company saw its margins increase for the first time in four years, as more and more consumers from Pakistan’s rising middle class are able to afford some of its higher-margin products.

On Monday, the company announced its financial results for the year ending December 31, 2012 – and it was a remarkably positive report: net revenues were up 22% for the year to Rs79 billion, and profits up an even higher 25.6% to Rs5.9 billion compared to the same period in the previous year.

The strong revenue growth for Nestle is particularly remarkable, considering the fact that it is the largest food and consumer goods company in the country, and yet still shows little sign of a slowdown in growth. Indeed, much of that growth appears to be volumetric, showing that consumers have a higher demand for Nestle’s products rather than revenue increases simply being a function of inflation.

But perhaps most encouraging for the company was its increase in gross profit margins, which rose from 25.8% in 2011 to 27.2% in 2012, suggesting that the company is selling more of its higher-margin products. At least some of that higher margin, however, was eroded by higher logistics and distribution costs.

Part of the reason for those higher costs is the installation of more refrigerators as more of its chilled products get sold (mostly yogurt). But another part of it may be that the company is expanding its distribution network into areas where transportation infrastructure is poor and cost of getting products to customers is higher, driving up its overall average.

Nonetheless, Nestle’s size in Pakistan – though miniscule by global standards – appears to insulate it from the kinds of risks that some of its smaller competitors face. Engro Foods, for instance, has somewhat higher distribution costs as a percentage of revenues than Nestle.

Nestle Pakistan’s Swiss parent is the world’s largest food company, with a wide array of products: from those that are commodity-like, to higher-margin products like health foods and chocolates. In Pakistan, however, Nestle has, until recently, been primarily a dairy company. Indeed, until the early 2000s, Nestle’s presence in the country was incorporated as Nestle Milkpak Ltd, named after its signature product. It remains the largest player in the dairy market, collecting milk from an estimated 190,000 farmers spread over 145,000 square kilometres in Punjab and Sindh.

Over the past few years, the company has expanded its product portfolio in Pakistan to include fruit juices, breakfast cereals, instant noodles and confectionaries. But it is still a small proportion of its global portfolio.

Nestle’s ability to rapidly grow its revenues and profits despite being the biggest player in Pakistan appears to be indicative of the tremendous room for growth in the Pakistani market. Consumer spending is expanding as the country’s middle class grows on the back of rapid urbanisation, and increasing household incomes as more and more young people enter the workforce.

Even the advent of a strong local rival in the form of Engro Foods does not appear to have dented Nestle’s growth prospects. In earlier conversations with The Express Tribune, officials at both Nestle and Engro Foods are keen to downplay any talk of a rivalry between the two companies, insisting that there is plenty of room for both to grow. Considering the blowout growth at both firms, there appears to be considerable merit to their argument.

The global giant is currently on track to invest upwards of CHF320 million ($347 million) in expanding its production capacity within Pakistan as part of a three-year plan.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET Op Ed by LUMS' Professor Rasul Bukhsh Rais:

I have a serious problem with the cynic brigade that writes and comments on social, developmental and political issues along familiar lines. What is their familiar line? The Taliban are coming, extremism is on the rise, corruption is pervasive and life is miserable. This is a partial truth, not the whole truth. That nothing can change is a viewpoint that conflicts with history and the evolution of societies.

Cynicism in hard times like ours and in a climate of fear, insecurity and violence, sells and viewers and readers readily embrace the dark side of things rather than looking at what is bright and shining. The other issue is the habit of most of my colleagues and columnists to write from the comfort of their offices or homes. They tend to look at the big picture that gives a disturbing spectre rather than examining achievements at local levels, and by dedicated individuals and communities. If there is any meaningful and real change in Pakistan, it is taking place at these levels in every aspect of the social and economic life of this country. By missing details of development and positive change at the smaller scale, we may draw a big picture of a society and country that may not be in agreement with reality. This is what is unfortunately happening.

One of my social beliefs is that only by changing at the local level will Pakistan change for the better at the national level. The national in spatial terms is nothing but local. By often travelling through the villages, mostly in Punjab, I have seen thousands of positive contributions and developments that are neither documented nor narrated. Never has our regular cynic brigade opened its eyes and minds to what this change is and how it is becoming a catalyst for more and larger changes.

Let me share one man’s gigantic contribution at a government agricultural research farm in Bahawalpur. I had heard about Mushtaq Alvi for his collection of berries and date palm trees for some years. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to visit this fabulous farm, which may not be noticed from outside the walls. Mr Alvi, as a young man with his first job, started the plantation in 1985. He went to every place in Pakistan to collect the best local species of date palms, berries, mangoes, guavas and pomegranates. Today, he has 35 species of date palms, 20 of berries, 20 of mangoes and five of pomegranates, and almost every of guavas. Never has his search for new findings ended.

While the collection continues to expand, the farm has supported thousands of farmers and households that would like to have various species of these trees. Every season, thousands of berry plants and hundreds of date palms are distributed. Then there are private collectors of these trees that have developed their own farms and would like to sell plants to new farmers. Each new tree becomes a source for saplings leading to further proliferation.

Scientists like Mr Alvi and many of his colleagues may move on to other research stations or retire but what they have done is something remarkable. This is just one example of ordinary Pakistanis making a difference to society. Unfortunately, our media, commentators and pseudo intellectuals cannot lift their eyes from what is wrong in society and shift their attention, even for a moment, to what is right and working.

Recognition and celebration of achievements by individuals and communities encourages positive change, positive attitudes and stimulates energies for innovation and more contribution. While grieving about the many things that are troubling us, let us not ignore the pleasing side of changing Pakistan. Go out and see it.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Khaleej Times on incentives in Pak foreign investment policy:

Pakistan has offered major financial and tax-free business incentives and infrastructure facilities to foreign investors as a big Saudi steel mills goes on stream.

These incentives were offered at the highest level by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. The prime minister’s came on the occasion of the inauguration of production at the just-built state-of-the-art Tuwairqi Steel Mills Limited (TSML), built by Al Tuwairqi Group of Industries of Saudi Arabia, and South Korea’s Pohang Iron and Steel Company (Posco). Al Tuwairqi Group has invested $350 million and Posco $16 million in the project. This first phase of TSML has been completed at a cost of $366 million. It will produce 1.28 millions tonnes of steel annually. It is the first steel mill in Pakistan built by the private sector.

The inauguration ceremony was highlighted by the prime minister’s unveiling of the pro-FDI incentives plan. Prime Minister Ashraf invited foreign and local investors to come up with industrial projects to be located at Pakistan’s Export Processing Zones (EPZs).

Pakistani EPZs have all modern infrastructure. “I urge foreign investors from across the globe to invest in Pakistan. I assure you full government support, facilities, a business-friendly environment and policies. At our EPZs we provide you with a huge number of incentives and exemptions,” he said.

The key features of Pakistan’s investment policy include, equal treatment to Pakistani and foreign investors, 100 per cent share holding in projects and businesses, an unlimited repatriation of the dividends, annual and accumulated profits. Highlighting these incentives, and still many more, the prime minister asked foreign investors, particularly those from Islamic countries, “to benefit from Pakistan’s EPZs.”
“We at Al Tuwairqi, feel honoured in introducing the world’s most advanced DRI technology, based on the Midres process, owned by Kobe Steel of Japan, in Pakistan,” he said.

TSML is also embarking upon several new projects, subsequent to commercial operation of DRI project. It plans to work on the upstream and downstream production processes, involving billet/thin slabs production, and iron ore exploration in Pakistan, its beneficiation and pelletisation.

“As our social corporate responsibility, we are also focused on the clean power generation in Pakistan,” Dr Hussain said. “We see Pakistan as a land of immense opportunities. We are very clear in our perception that Pakistan, as a country has to grow, and we are determined to play an instrumental role towards its development. In the survival of Pakistan is the survival of the entire Muslim Ummah,” he said.

Posco chairman and CEO Joon-Yang Chung, said: “The TSML will significantly contribute towards Pakistan’s economy.”

“Today, Pakistan’s economic development and structural adjustment calls for a higher quality steel products to be manufactured in this country. At TSML, we will develop high-performance products, featuring high strength, corrosion resistance, sustainability and light- weight, and improve the technological competence related to such products. To add to its success, Posco is determined in building a successful partnership with Al Tuwairqi to benefit from its presence in Pakistan and is fully focused to make TSML a world class steel making unit through possible expansion of initially set DRI plant using forward and backward integration,” added Chung.

With all stakeholders so determined, and so upbeat, output of high-grade products, and larger investment inflows look all set to benefit Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an AFP story on Pakistan's rising middle class consumption:

In a smart corner of Karachi, a new mall offers wealthy clientele the chance to lunch on an American burger, buy French cosmetics, shop for cocktail dresses, sip an afternoon cappuccino or wolf down a cinnamon roll.

Female sales assistants dressed in jeans and T-shirts buck the idea that “service industry” jobs are unsuitable for women, even if many of them commute into work heavily veiled to avoid being harassed or insulted.

“It is time when Pakistanis are getting branded. It is a new phenomenon,” says Samiullah Mohabbat, the chief executive who brought American franchise Fatburger from Beverly Hills to Karachi, a city troubled by shootings and kidnappings.

“The world has just started coming to Pakistan and this trend will grow.”

...the middle class has grown over the last decade. Karachi, the country’s financial hub, Lahore and the capital Islamabad have all seen a surge in Western-style coffee shops, fast-food franchises and new malls.

Karachi’s Dolmen Mall is the newest and flashiest.

There is Spanish fashion favourite Mango, US beauty and home firm Crabtree and Evelyn and British high street staples Mothercare and Debenhams.


Mohabbat has invested $7 million in opening Pakistan’s first Fatburger restaurant last month on the second floor of Dolmen Mall, with plans for another in Karachi, two in Lahore and a fifth in Islamabad.

Far from seeing the country’s troubles as a bar to business, Mohabbat says a $5.50 burger is the perfect antidote.

At lunch time, his 130-seat restaurant is buzzing. In Beverly Hills, there may be nothing exciting about going out for a burger, but in Karachi the novelty and the relative expense make it a sought-after privilege.

The walls are plastered with large notebook papers scribbled with the experiences of the clients. “Yummilicious,” screeches out one.

There is a scrum at the counters as customers wait their turn. A dozen workers cut and cook imported American beef, slathering it with spices and vegetables, shoving it in a bun and handing it to the waiters.

“It’s certainly quite expensive for the average Pakistani, but I prefer it because I can afford it,” says businessman Masroor Afzal, 44, who works round the corner and says he frequently pops over.

“The beauty of Karachi is that it has everything for everyone. There are many people who can’t afford to eat or shop here, but they have other bazaars.”

Analysts say there is enormous potential in Pakistan as a market for global consumer goods, despite the structural problems in the economy.

According to the finance ministry, 104 million people are aged 15 to 59 and by 2030, 30 percent of the population will be younger than 30.

Khurram Schehzad, head of research at investment firm Arif Habib Securities in Karachi, says consumer spending has grown 26 percent in Pakistan since 2010, compared to seven percent for Asia as a whole.

Business mogul Abid Umer says there is “tremendous potential” for retail.

His Al-Karam Group brought its first foreign franchises – Babyshop from Bahrain and Splash from the United Arab Emirates – to Pakistan in 2005. Today his portfolio has extended to Mango.

“Pakistan is full of aspirational customers,” said Umer.

“Sure, Pakistan has its share of issues but in most cases, day to day life is not affected, plus the tremendous customer response and low cost of operations makes it worthwhile.”


Helen Lacey, Debenhams’ senior PR manager, told AFP the company had carried out extensive market research and had “no current security concerns”.

“International brands in Pakistan in general are performing strongly. This is a large and growing market and there is a clear appetite for British brands here and growth potential with a rapidly growing middle class,” she said....
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Gulf News on various sectors of the economy in Pakistan:

Naveed Vakil, director, research and business development, AKD Securities:

Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL): Dollar-based returns and a firm oil price outlook should keep returns high, especially as key development projects come online and the monetisation of recent finds is fast-tracked.

Pakistan Oil Fields (POL): [Its performance is closely linked] to international oil prices that are likely to remain firm in the near term as demand growth recovers, especially from China. POL also offers exposure to Pakistan’s Kohat Basin which is where there has recently been a string of discoveries have been high impact.

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL): PTCL should post strong earnings growth this year, due to higher margins following the implementation of higher international incoming call rates. Infrastructure is being installed to curtail grey incoming international traffic, which should support legitimate volume as well.

Lucky Cement: Pakistan’s largest cement company should continue benefitting from a rise in domestic consumption led by development spending ahead of the elections. It should benefit from high margins as domestic cement prices remain firm while coal costs remain low.

Furqan Punjani, deputy head of equity research at BMA Capital Management Limited:

Oil and gas

Robust oil prices coupled with [increasing production volumes should] keep the oil and gas exploration and production sector in the limelight in next few years. Revenue streams linked to the dollar and local currency depreciation would also help augment bottom-lines in the sector. We prefer Pakistan Oilfields and Pakistan Petroleum because of their better dividend yields.


Based on better exports prospects and higher profit margins (on low cost cotton) as well as a promotion in the gas allocation list by the government, the textile sector has made it onto our list of top investment ideas for 2013. Nishat Mills is the biggest integrated textile unit in Pakistan and will continue to benefit from its well-diversified core operations and the good potential of its portfolio holdings.


We believe the fertilizer sector presents an ideal mix of defensive and high-growth plays for 2013. Our top pick in the sector is ENGRO.


Cement prices are currently at an all-time high of Rs440(Dh16.27) a bag. We like companies that can magnify top line growth into the bottom-line, thanks to the deleveraging of their balance sheet. This makes DGKC.PA our top pick in the sector.


Pakistan is an energy deficit country and the entire production of independent power producers (IPPs) is consumed on any given day. Moreover, with higher and regular subsidies from the government translating into better cash inflows, the sector has once again come into limelight. Furthermore, as revenues and profits are linked to the dollar, the depreciating Pakistani rupee will also benefit this sector. We prefer Hub Power Company, the largest private sector power producer of Pakistan, because of its higher dividend yields and stable bottom-line.

Commercial banks

The Central bank of Pakistan has reduced the base [interest] rate by 450 basis points in the last 24 months. This has reduced the net interest margins of the entire banking sector, barring a few large banks that have the ability to reduce the rates provided to their depositors and keep attracting fresh deposits at lower rates. United Bank Limited is one of them. We prefer UBL [because] of their ability to grow their deposits by double digits at lower cost, coupled with their greater exposure to high yielding long term government bonds. Furthermore their quarterly payout will continue to lure value investors to the bank. ....
Riaz Haq said…
Here's excerpt of an NBC report on Waziristan agency of FATA in Pakistan:

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan — It's been called the most dangerous place in the most dangerous region on the planet.

A rugged swathe of tribal territory nestled between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Waziristan is ground zero for some of the region's most notorious militant groups and warlords, including the Pakistani Taliban and Haqqani network.

North and South Waziristan are hit by more U.S. drone attacks than anywhere else in the world.

NBC News obtained rare access to South Waziristan and last week became the first foreign team of journalists to report from North Waziristan.
At the heart of the army's plans to rebuild the area is a 370-mile road — funded in large part by USAID money. The road, half of which is complete, will connect the isolated and insular tribal communities to each other, as well as the rest of mainstream Pakistan and to trading routes across the border in Afghanistan.

When finished, the roadway will offer a third link from Pakistan to Afghanistan, and the army hopes, will encourage business development along its path through Waziristan.

In addition to the road project, the army has taken on development projects far outside its traditional roles.

Along with the markets, two military schools, known here as Cadet Colleges, were built in South Waziristan to offer young men a rigorous education and boarding-school environment, unlike any educational opportunity available in the region before.

Col. Zahid Naseem Akbar, principal of the Cadet College, Spinkai, said he hopes the school will gives boys in the area the same opportunities as those elsewhere in the country.

"They have the same potential as any other citizen of this country has," Akbar said. "And I think we owe it to them that we provide them the opportunity to join the mainstream."

The army is overseeing the rebuilding to schools demolished by the Taliban and building schools for the first time in some areas, including for girls. The military established the Waziristan Institute for Technical Education -- a vocational school to train young men who missed their early education during Taliban rule.

And the army is restoring water supplies and electrical systems and funding what they call "livelihood projects," training and empowering local small businesses in everything from honey bee farming and fruit orchards, to auto repair and transport services.

"The strategy that the Pakistan army has adopted is a people-centric strategy," Hayat said. "So the more areas you've able to clear, the more infrastructure you're able to build, the more people you are able to bring back and sustain. Provide them economic opportunities. That is the measure of success."

Ideal habitat for Taliban
Frontline commanders all say the battle for Waziristan will not be won with hearts and minds alone. Security operations continue, gradually increasing what they call their "elbow space" in the region.

Both North and South Waziristan feature snow-capped peaks, deep valleys, hidden caverns, and daunting mountain ranges which provide natural cover. It's the ideal habitat for the Taliban and other groups seeking refuge and covert routes for travel between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
Forget the BRICs; Zambia, Estonia and Pakistan are the place for alpha investors, argues former Golaman Dachs executive Dambisa Moyo in a piece on :

The search for superior, uncorrelated risk-adjusted returns continues, and savvy investors such as endowments and family foundations are turning their attention to the frontier markets. Such markets exclude the BRICs, many of which posted sizable equity returns of over 30% last year, including Nigeria, Estonia, Pakistan, and Kenya. The MSCI Africa sub index posted one-year returns of over 60%. By comparison, the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) grew slower and sluggish—for example, around 4% on the Shanghai index and -2% on Brazil’s Bovespa.

A set of well-known factors bind these seemingly random countries. Solid debt and deficit dynamics; attractive labor trends, favorable demographics and upward mobility; and important productivity gains all make for a compelling economic growth story. However, there are two areas where perceptions of frontier economies are really changing: risk and liquidity.

In regards to risk, investors are beginning to better understand the significant benefits of delineating between risk, measurable and possible to calculate, and uncertainty, which is not. Like anywhere else, investors who can tap into on-the-ground networks and relationships have an advantage with risk management. But thankfully meaningful, the task of risk assessment has gotten easier with increases in transparency around economic and political information, data flows and widely available regulations over jurisdictions. The transition to western-styled democracy and fully transparent and liquid capital markets will be bumpy, but the uncertainty arising from these growing pains should be viewed in the context of an upwardly sloping trend line of progress which will almost certainly occur over a relatively short time line.

Correlations between frontier and developed stock market returns are around 0.75, compared to roughly 0.90 between developed and emerging economies such as the BRICs. Country risk premiums are close to those of the broader emerging markets. With proper risk management tools, this implies that investors can garner significant diversification benefits. The lower correlation between frontier and developed markets points to risk factors that are orthogonal to the global risk-on, risk-off theme that has captivated markets over the past five years. Frontier markets provide opportunities to step away from the global macroeconomic themes and focus on the micro stories on the ground, thus providing a better environment to identify unique investment opportunities. Smart investors are looking for great opportunities that are driven by company-specific issues from which they can analyze and profit.

In terms of liquidity, both equity and debt markets – international and local – have grown considerably over the last five years. Today, with a market cap of more than $1 trillion, the universe of stock markets boasts more than 8,000 listings across broad sectors with notable risk/reward profiles in financials such as banking and insurance, consumer goods, and telecommunications companies. A number of commentators erroneously believe investing in frontier markets is simply expressing a commodity trade. To assume this would be miss out on some of the more significant opportunities in these burgeoning markets such as in the logistics and telecommunication sectors. Moreover, to put a finer point on this, today Africa has almost 20 stock exchanges, with just over a thousand listed equities; more than 85% of these stocks are non-commodity related businesses....
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Daily Times on Al-Tuwariqi steel reaching full production:

* Plant runs at 100 percent of its rated capacity within 4 months of its launch

KARACHI: Tuwairqi Steel Mills Limited (TSML), Pakistan’s first private sector integrated environment-friendly steel manufacturing complex and a joint venture of Al-Tuwairqi Holding (ATH)/ISPC of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the world’s third largest steel maker POSCO has recorded the ever highest production of an iron making plant in Pakistan during the Plant Demonstration Test (PDT) conducted in the expert supervision of MIDREX, USA.
During the PDT, the plant ran at 100 percent of its rated capacity i.e producing 160 tonnes of high quality Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) per hour for 72 hours achieving all of its operational targets. This development comes at a crucial juncture when Pakistan’s current per capita steel consumption is only 40 kilogram, which is exuberantly low, when compared with the global average of 215 kilogram. This establishes a dire need and increased emphasis on achieving international benchmarks to become a modern and an efficient economy.
Dr Asif Brohi President National Bank of Pakistan congratulated the entire team of Tuwairqi Steel Mills on achieving this milestone and appreciated their enthusiasm and technical expertise.
It is heartening to observe TSML has already increased the production capacity of Pakistan by 1.28 million tonnes per annum, which would help meet the ever growing demands of steel in Pakistan and with its massive expansion and modernization plans, Al-Tuwairqi is poised to transform the country into an industrial hub, he added.
Zaigham Adil Rizvi Director (Projects) TSML said, “We are committed to our vision to participate in the development of national economy in order to have a long sustaining growth of Pakistan.”
During the PDT, Chang Hee Lee Council General of South Korea, Rahat Kamal DMD SSGC, Major General Javed (r) Chairman Pakistan Steel Mills; Zubair Motiwalla Chairman Sindh Board of Investment, Waqar Ahmed Hashmi DMD KW&SB and Ghulam Rasool Shiekh from EPZA were also present.
Al-Tuwairqi kicked off the commercial production of TSML’s 1st phase in January this year-a Direct Reduction of Iron (DRI) making plant with the capacity to produce up to 1.28 million tonnes per annum of high quality DRI, which is evidently steel’s most versatile metallic and a preferred raw material for quality steel making worldwide.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Nation report on opening of Ocean Tower in Karachi:

The Ocean Mall has opened the doors to luxurious shopping experience, the first of its kind shopping center in Karachi, specially designed to offer a unique and glamorous experience that is not available elsewhere in Pakistan.
The Ocean Mall is spread over four floors with the local and international renowned brands outlets. The Ocean Mall is one of the Karachi’s leading shopping leisure and entertainment destinations and it presents local and internationals stores from fashion to food, high street brands to luxurious collections.
The best part about the Ocean Mall is its parking which has four floors of parking. Large numbers of people from every walk of life and dignitaries also visited Ocean Mall and expressed the hope that it will restore image of Karachi.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Express Tribune on Bahria Town projects in Karachi and Rawalpindi:

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan’s largest real estate company, Bahria Town (BT) on Sunday started the booking process for its residential plots in Karachi and Rawalpindi.
Under the project, the real estate giant will allot plots to more than 0.5 million people. On the first day of booking, more than 50 thousand people received the form against a fee of Rs1,000.
The demand was such that some people reportedly resold their forms at a profit.
People from all walks of life showed great interest in the BT project and long queues of citizens were seen at the booking offices till late at night.
Talking to Express News, people said even the VIPs were found standing in queues, and the credit for this went to the founder and chairman of Bahria Town, Malik Riaz Hussain.
The BT representative said Sunday was reserved for the distribution of forms for residential plots. “The booking forms for commercial plots will to be offered on Monday (today),” he added.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's UAE's National newspaper story on real estate sector in Pakistan:

The government spends more than US$5 billion on construction from its annual development budget. The housing sector, however, gets less than half of the amount allocated for construction each year. The burgeoning population and rapid urbanisation calls for more housing schemes in the country. Private real estate developers have a crucial role to meet housing.

In view of the security concerns, private developers have resorted to building gated communities in major cities. Pakistan’s Bahria Town is Asia’s largest real estate developer and private housing society, which has practically implemented the idea of foolproof safety. Bahria’s ongoing projects, such as the JV D&B Valley, Golf City, Garden City, Bahria Icon, cover more than 1 billion square feet that will accommodate more than 1 million residents. Bahria’s 25,000 employees are delivering US$5 billion of iconic developments.

Administered by the Pakistan army, Defence Housing Authority (DHA) is a real estate organisationthat mainly develops housing for current and retired military officers. DHA has establishments in all the major cities including Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. DHA City, one of the largest state-of-the-art residential-cum-commercial projects, is under construction in Karachi. DHA has also built gated communities. And the prices of residential and commercial property in DHA housing schemes have been on the rise.

Launched in 2008, DHA Valley is a joint venture of DHA, Bahria Town and Habib Rafiq Private. The project aims at developing a secure community with essential amenities. DHA Valley offers 1,125 sq ft and 1,800 sq ft residential plots for 650,000 Pakistan rupees (Dh22,749) and 880,000 rupees respectively, with a quarterly instalment plan for Pakistani residents. It also offers1,800 sq ft residential plots for US$12,900 for overseas Pakistani residents.

The winner of five awards from the Asia Pacific International Property Awards, Bahria Town is actually fuelling the growth of real estate sector in the country.

Bahria’s projects in Rawalpindi and Islamabad and the development of a gated community worth $6 billion in the twin cities is the great property success story. The amenities offered by Bahria Town attracted residents and allured real estate investors. It ensures a 24-hour supply of electricity, fool-proof security and other amenities. The value of real estate in the Bahria towns in Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi has increased manifold in the past five years. The price of a 1,800 sq ft residential plot at Bahria towns in Lahore and Rawalpindi has increased up to 5 million rupees from 1.5m rupees in just three to four years.

Karachi, the country commercial capital, has endured stagnancy or a fall in property prices because of deteriorating law and order over the past five years. Bahria Town has come forward as the answer to many of the problems confronting the real estate investors. Bahria town Karachi is currently the focus of speculative trade in real estate. Frenzied investors are ready to offer triple the price for plot files. What is really a commendable the properties are financially accessible to the middle class. For example in the newly launched Bahria Town scheme in Karachi, the price for a 1,125 sq ft residential plot is 2.6 million rupees, while the price of a 2,160 sq ft plot is more than 5m rupees. Similarly, the price a two bed apartment is 2.6m rupees, while the price of four-bed apartment is 8.2m rupees. These properties can be purchased through instalments under a five-year plan.
Riaz Haq said…
Dubai close second to London for foreign buyers. Here's a report on Dubai real estate in 2014:

Dubai, 18 February 2014 - Renewed demand from domestic and overseas buyers seeking Dubai property assets is a sign of increasing interest in Dubai's improving real estate market, according to leading international real estate consultancy Cluttons.
Strong interest in Emaar's newly launched Lila and Yasmin properties at Arabian Ranches, Bahrain-based Ravi Pillai Group's plans to invest USD$1.5 billion into two real estate projects in Business Bay and Downtown, and the USD$1.9 million investment by Chow Tai Food Endowment Industry Investment Development (Group) Ltd in serviced apartments, high-end residences and two five-star hotels at Dubai Pearl, illustrate the growing appetite for real estate investment from intuitional investors who have been largely absent since the market rebounded.

Faisal Durrani, Associate - residential and international research at Cluttons comments on the depth of buyer demand in Dubai: "The launch of Yasmin demonstrates the domestic interest in established communities like Arabian Ranches, which feature completed infrastructure that are expanding in areas south of Dubai. Villa communities tend to be limited to a few hundred villas in order to create a sense of exclusivity and deliver on the promise of 'gated communities'. We expect to see more such 'bolt-on' schemes launched, as developers expand prominent communities and focus on areas that are well established."

The recent report on buyer activity released by the Dubai Land Department highlights the appetite for real estate assets in Dubai that extends well beyond the UAE, with 162 nationalities committing to Dubai's bricks and mortar during 2013.
Durrani continued: "Unsurprisingly, Indian nationals topped the list of the city's most active buyers, with Dubai often viewed in the same league as London by this group. The relative geographic proximity to India and the large non-resident Indian population in the region are two further critical drivers for those looking to park their Rupees in Dubai's real estate market. And now we're seeing the demand base broadening from individuals to institutional players. Britons and Pakistani nationals rounded off the top three nationalities that purchased property in Dubai last year."

This is further evidenced in Cluttons International Private Capital Survey 2013/14 which was released late last year. The survey found that within the region, Dubai ranks ahead of other global real estate investment destinations.
Cluttons surveyed nine global locations across the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region and although London ranked as the go-to investment destination by the world's wealthy, Dubai came in a close second, up from seventh place a year earlier....
Riaz Haq said…
The first ten months of this fiscal year have witnessed 21.3 million tonnes of cement industry dispatches in local market, showing a growth of 2.7 per cent as compared to same period last year. The overall situation during the period showed a growth of 1.17 per cent as compared to the same period of the last fiscal year, as total dispatches increased to 27.986 million tonnes against 27.664 million tonnes from July 2012 to April 2013.
Riaz Haq said…
Local sales of the cement industry posted a growth of 9.85% during the first quarter of the current fiscal year, compared with the same period previous year.
Exports, however, recorded a decline by 8.13% compared with exports during the first quarter previous year.
The overall situation during the first quarter of the current fiscal year showed a 4.68% growth compared to the same period last year. Cement dispatches to domestic markets during September 2014 were 2.42 million tons compared with 2.12 million during the same month last year, depicting an increase of 13.86%.
Exports during September 2014 were 730,000 tons against 816,000 tons during September 2013, showing a decline of 10.6%. Total dispatches during September 2014 were 3.15 million tons compared to 2.94 million tons during the same month last year.

According to the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Asso­ciation (APCMA), the industry has been struggling against the high duty structure, impractical imposition of maximum retail price (MRP), increasing import duties on coal, increasing power tariffs and axel load restrictions.
Additionally, an added issue for the industry is the growing trend of smuggling from Iran.
Domestic cement uptake in the southern region is being seriously affected due to unregulated smuggling of cement from Iran. Statistics showed that against a 10.8% increase in domestic sales in the northern region, domestic sales in the southern region showed an increase of only 5.4%.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan is a country is identified as one of the rapidly emerging markets, which is further reaffirmed by the fact that Pakistan has the 27th largest purchasing power parity in the world. It is also the 15th largest trader of goods and seventh largest trader of services.

The Ministry of Finance in Pakistan conducts an annual economic survey, and according to the survey for the year 2012 – 2013, the ‘manufacturing sector accounts for 13.2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 13.8% of the total employed labour force. Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM), at 10.6% of GDP, dominates the overall sector, accounting for 81% of the sectoral share.’ The manufacturing industry is considered to be the backbone of economic prosperity for any country and, therefore, growth of the sector itself is very important.

Pakistan’s cement industry – yesterday

With the industry facing its own share of ups and downs, the history of the cement sector in Pakistan has been an eventful one. The industry, which started with only four plants and a production capacity of 0.5 million t, now boasts 24 integrated facilities and an installed production capacity of 44.64 million t.

During the 1950s, five cement plants were set up with a combined capacity of 2.8 million t. This number soared to 14 operational plants by the end of 1969. However, setbacks such as the nationalisation of state-owned plants, to form the State Cement Corporation of Pakistan following the Economic Reforms Era in 1972, hampered growth.

Nevertheless, policy changes in the late 1980s and ever increasing demand for housing encouraged the private sector to step forward. Seven more plants were set up with a combined capacity of 2.54 million t. The public sector also invested in four new cement grinding units, thereby increasing the total production capacity. However, it was not until the year 2000 that the country’s cement industry began to experience rapid expansion, with production capacity increasing from 16 million t to over 44 million t today.

Pakistan’s cement industry – today

At present, the cement industry directly and indirectly employs over 150 000 people and supports a host of subsectors, including the construction, shipping, packaging and logistic industries. The industry contributes handsomely to the national exchequer in the form of duties and taxes, and is bringing in foreign reserves through exports.

In the first nine months of FY14, the cement sector exported 6.017 million t of cement and clinker. The domestic cement market is divided into two large clusters, namely the North and the South regions, which absorb a large portion of local production. The remaining portion is exported to countries such as Afghanistan, South Africa, Iraq, India, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Djibouti, Mozambique, Sudan and Kenya, among many others.------
Pakistan is one of the top 20 producers and the eighth leading exporter of cement in the world. With the global cement market constantly expanding, there is a huge opportunity for Pakistani cement manufacturers to export their products to the Middle East, Africa and developing countries in other regions.

Lucky Cement has recently started operations in Iraq in an effort to meet the immense demand in the country as it rebuilds its infrastructure. The plant, Al Mabrooka Cement, is a joint venture grinding unit located near the port in Basrah. The company is now set to start operations in DR Congo in 2016 in another joint venture cement plant, Nyumba Ya Akiba.

Additionally, Gwadar, a planned free trade port city on the Arabian Sea coastline of Pakistan in the Balochistan province, is expected to help increase exports due to its strategic location and close proximity to the Gulf countries. Even within the country, the industry can greatly contribute to the government’s plan to upgrade infrastructure, constructing dams and providing housing to the poor.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistani cement sales volumes up almost 9% in first 4 months

In Pakistan, cement sales have reportedly grown 8.87% in the first four months of the current fiscal year, reaching more than 8 million t. Customs Today reports that overall exports decreased y/y to 2.79 million t, a 4.43% drop.

There is something of a north/south divide in sales, with the northern region seeing a 10.4% gain in domestic sales but a 12.3% drop in exports, while southern cement producers reported a much smaller increase in domestic sales but a 12.5% increase in exports.

The All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association has reportedly claimed that government inaction has impeded industry growth. Fuel and power cost increases have put pressure on companies’ margins, as shown in the quarterly results reported last month. Increased taxes were also reported as an issue affecting the companies’ bottom lines.
Riaz Haq said…
FOR the calendar year 2014, the cement sector, with a market capitalisation of Rs295bn, provided a 70pc return to equity investors — far more than the benchmark KSE-100 index’s return of 27pc.

It marked the third consecutive year where the sector outperformed the broader market. Among cement companies, Kohat Cement Company (KOHC) provided the third-highest return of 97pc, after Pioneer Cement’s 135pc and Lafarge Pakistan’s 134pc.

Nabeel Khursheed, an analyst at Topline Securities, attributed Kohat’s performance to ‘improved production efficiency and swift deleveraging’.

Aizaz Mansoor Sheikh, the company’s CEO, told shareholders that KOHC’s pre-tax profit had grown 20pc to Rs4.38bn in FY14, from Rs3.77bn in the previous year. “Stable coal prices, better cement rates in the local market and growth in dispatch volumes contributed towards improved profitability,” he said.

And Kohat Cement is looking forward to the installation of a 15MW waste heat recovery plant (WHRPP), which is expected to mitigate the rising electricity costs. “The WHRPP is currently under construction, with a projected completion date of June 30, 2015,” the CEO said.

Despite all that, sounds reverberated in the market of spanners being thrown in the works of KOHC. Most sector analysts delivered the bad news of mine owners moving a petition in local courts against the company for non-payment of their dues, which was said to have led to a ban on excavation of essential minerals by the company.

However, the investor panic subsided on Friday afternoon following a clarification by KOHC’s company secretary, Khurram Shahzad, who said in a filing with the stock exchange that “the company has valid leasing rights from the KP government for the excavation of minerals from the leasehold land against payment of royalty and excise duty to the government…. At the present point in time, no stay orders are in the field debarring the company to exercise its valid and legal rights for the excavation of the materials”.

And the company assured investors: “The management is expecting cement dispatches [to] resume at their desirable level from next week”.

Waqar Uddin Salim, an analyst at Summit Capital, anticipates KOHC’s profitability to rise to Rs3.75bn in FY15. The industry’s dynamics remain healthy, with the Topline analyst anticipating cement sales to grow 6.8pc annually in the next three years to reach 21.8m.tonnes by FY17 and exports to rise to 7.9m tonnes per annum. The industry’s capacity utilisation is expected to mount to 89pc.

Meanwhile, Kohat has witnessed a big deleveraging in its balance sheet, with the ratio of long-term debt to total assets dropping to just 1pc in FY14, from a tall 35pc in FY10, and has room to increase capacity utilisation.
Riaz Haq said…
With over 6% growth in sales in the first seven months of the current fiscal year, analysts say the cement industry is set to post highest-ever growth rate in the last five years.
This growth is more important for the cement industry officials as it is mainly based on local sales unlike the pre-2010 period when the industry used to equally rely on exports.
“Cement industry’s domestic sales have surprised everyone and the growth has surpassed all market estimates. Industry is likely to grow over 6% as it has risen in the first seven months (Jul-Jan 2014-15),” industry analyst Saad Hashmi commented.
Average growth in cement production was just 2.9% in the last three years. However, cement sales have shown an exceptional 6.2% growth in the first seven months in fiscal year 2015. Even if the industry succeeds in maintaining the current growth at the end of the fiscal year, it will be the highest expansion rate in the last five years.
Cement production posted the highest-ever number of 34.28 million tons in the last fiscal year 2013-14. Dispatches increased to 20.02 million tons during the first seven months of 2014-15 compared to 18.86 million tons in the same period of previous fiscal year. This means the industry can touch 36.6 million tons by the end of June 2015 if it grows at the current pace of 6.2%.
In all likelihood, Hashmi said the cement industry will succeed in maintaining 6% growth because the remaining five months (February to June) are all those in which the construction activity remains high.
Owing to the continuous decline in cement exports over the last five years, the industry is increasingly dependent on local sales. The impact of the rise in domestic consumption is so strong that while issuing the latest data, the spokesperson for the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association recently claimed, “higher cement uptake depicts a turnaround in the economy.”
Commenting on the ‘immense satisfaction’ of the industry from rising domestic demand, he said cement companies have been reaping the benefits of record low international coal prices that have significantly reduced the cost of production.
Construction sector
Association of Builders and Developers Pakistan (ABAD) former senior vice chairman Saleem Kassim Patel told The Express Tribune that the private sector is showing a strong growth, which is one of the main causes of high cement consumption in the country.
“There is a huge backlog of houses, which is why this sector will continue to attract investments. What is more important is that the current rise in construction activities can turn around the economy if the government starts supporting it,” said Patel.
However, one of the biggest hurdles to the fast growth of the construction sector is the moratorium on new gas connections for high-rise buildings. Without gas, thousands of already constructed residential buildings are still unoccupied, causing financial losses of millions of rupees to the builders and their clients, he added.
Owing to the growing shortage of gas, the PPP-led previous government banned all new gas connections to CNG stations, high-rise buildings and industries in 2011. Since then, builders and developers say the ban has been proving damaging for new investments in this sector.
Riaz Haq said…
What lies behind the gates of #Pakistan's growing elite gated communities? #construction #housing #Cement #Steel

Inside the gates, the never-ending sectors and undulating roads, the scarce traffic and abundant space can be extremely disorienting. If you are a first-time visitor, you can be forgiven for thinking this expansively designed neighbourhood is Islamabad’s actual twin city, and Rawalpindi just an unplanned appendage.

Driving on Bahria Town’s carpeted tarmac is a fairly docile affair after negotiating the violent potholes and sadistically narrow roads that pervade most of Pakistan. The sculptures of farm animals dotting the roundabouts stay mercifully in place, unlike the free roaming cattle outside. These are merely the fringe benefits of buying an accommodation in what could easily be called Pakistan’s most self-sufficient and luxurious gated community.

There is a riding range for those who have always felt congested city streets do not offer enough galloping room for horses. There is a golf course for those who have never been particularly fond of stirrups and there is a cinema with reclining sofas for those who don’t even like walking. There are health clubs, hospitals, playgrounds and even a cricket stadium in Phase 8, a phase bigger than the first six phases combined. So large, in fact, that it’s possible to take a wrong turn while traversing it and end up in New York somehow. For, beyond an avenue lined with palm trees, there is a Statue of Liberty looking just as confused about being there as you might be about seeing her. There is also an imitation Eiffel Tower on the other end of the same phase. Because, well, why not?----

While Bahria Town has expanded to other cities (the one in Lahore has been functional for a while and construction has started in Karachi and Nawabshah, and is expected to start soon in Hyderabad and Peshawar), the one next to Rawalpindi/Islamabad is still the oldest and most densely populated. It claims to be housing 100,000 people as of now.

Early residents remember it largely being a jungle even 10 years back. The visual trajectory from green to grey has been rapid; one week there would be four-legged creatures running around and the next week four-wheeled vehicles.

Realtors say they primarily deal with business people or retired civil and military officials. The former because they don’t need to hit a nine-to-five job in city centres — which can be a very long commute from Bahria Town; the latter because they get service benefits which they can use or sell to buy a house in this enclave. Selling a service allotment in Islamabad, for instance, will comfortably pay for a house in Bahria Town. Property is cheaper this far away from a city — which is the entire point.

Property dealers also say they run offices abroad; Bahria Town, too, has its corporate offices in the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. Expatriate Pakistanis who have accumulated a certain amount of wealth, have gotten used to a certain standard of living and now wish to keep a house in their country of origin, are inevitably attracted to Bahria Town’s lavish infrastructure and the uninterrupted supply of electricity.
Riaz Haq said…
Gated communities of Pakistan by AFP

Published on Dec 10, 2013
Gated communities - offering secure living in a sometimes volatile country - are growing in popularity in Pakistan with some 100,000 people living in one of them near Rawalpindi. Duration: 02:07
Riaz Haq said…
Cement Makers See China-Led Bonanza as Pakistan Spends Billions
by Faseeh Mangi , Kamran Haider , and Khalid Qayum
June 1, 2017, 2:30 PM PDT

Nation’s cement output to rise by half as most firms expand
China is financing more than $50 billion of Pakistan projects
In his air-conditioned office protected from the scorching heat and dust outside, S.M. Imran points at a white lined map pinned on his wall showing Power Cement Ltd.’s planned expansion at its plant in Pakistan’s arid southern Sindh province.

Power Cement is aiming to triple capacity, riding a wave of Chinese-financed infrastructure projects across Pakistan valued at more than $50 billion. It’s part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s biggest gambit in his “One Belt, One Road” project to rebuild the ancient Silk Road, a trading route of ports, railways and highways snaking across mountains, deserts and disputed territory through Asia to Europe and Africa.

The anticipated demand has been a boon for Pakistan’s cement industry, which is expected to increase capacity by 56 percent to 70 million tons in five years, according to Karachi-based brokerage Alfalah Securities Ltd.

“We used to carry stocks, but not anymore,” said Imran, a project director and cement industry veteran who has been in the business for four decades. “This capacity will be required.”

Mega Projects

Cement-makers are betting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will ensure timely completion of much needed infrastructure projects ahead of next year’s election, which the premier is widely expected to contest for a second consecutive term.

With that in mind, the government has committed to a $9.6 billion expansion of the national roads network, such as the Karakoram highway -- the main trade route between China and Pakistan -- along with about $35 billion on energy projects and power plants to end daily blackouts.

Encouraged by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, Gharibwal Cement Ltd. is doubling capacity to more than 13,000 tons a day by August, according to company spokesman Rana Muhammad Ijaz, who said its existing plant is producing at its peak. Power Cement Ltd. is boosting its ability to churn out 10,700 tons a day, while Cherat Cement Co. announced plans to build a third unit days after completing a second, with a capacity of 7,100 tons a day.

Cement stocks have also outpaced the nation’s benchmark stock measure, with a group of 21 companies rising an average 47 percent in the past year, compared to the KSE100 Index’s 34 percent gain.

“The demand isn’t going down because of a boom in the construction sector,” Ijaz said. “Mega projects are being built and the CPEC is a key factor for this boom.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #cement capacity reaches 47 million tons. Utilization at 87% with shipments at 41 million tons. #CPEC

The capacity utilisation of the cement industry was high at 86.46 percent in July 2017, while the annual cement despatch capacity of the industry has increased to 46.94 million tons.

Local dispatches from units based in northern region of the country were 2.423 million tons while their export despatches were 0.338 million tons in July 2017 as opposed to 1.516 million tons local and 0.306 million tons export despatches in July 2016. The turnaround after a dismal performance in June 2017 took the industry by surprise and the sharp increase in despatches in July 2017 revived hopes for the sector. The despatches were achieved despite political turmoil in the country and unprecedented rains throughout the country which depicts the maturity of the construction sector of the country. South based mills also recorded a growth in local despatches which increased from 0.352 million tons in July 2016 to 0.483 million tons in July 2017; whereas, exports took a hit going down to 0.138 million tons from 0.159 million tons in July 2016. A spokesman of All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers’ Association said that the despatch figures for July are most encouraging. However, he said that this does not mean that the economic planners ignore the genuine difficulties faced by this sector.

He said the industry is performing in stiff regulatory environment and is only surviving because it has upgraded its technology that has provided it the strength to take any challenge head on.
Riaz Haq said…
Cement sales touch record high at 4.2 million tons in October

By Our CorrespondentPublished: November 4, 2017

Propelled by demand from new infrastructure projects in the country, overall cement sales touched a new peak at 4.222 million tons in October 2017, up 19.71% from the offtake of 3.526 million tons in the same month of the previous year, according to statistics released by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association on Friday.

Total sales in the first four months (Jul-Oct) of fiscal year 2017-18 reached 14.570 million tons, which was 16.53% higher than dispatches of 12.503 million tons in the corresponding period of previous year.

The increase came from the surge in domestic demand, though exports stood unimpressive and dropped 16.16%.
Domestic cement consumption rose 25.61% to 3.779 million tons in October 2017 whereas exports continued to decline as they went down 14.55% to 0.443 million tons.

“Higher cement consumption in the country is a sign of growing economy that is having positive impact on over three dozen industries connected with the construction sector,” an association spokesman commented.

However, he said exports were below par which was a cause for worry because the industry still had idle capacity. “Almost all the decline in exports is via sea; shipments to India have also been affected but not to that extent,” he said.

The spokesman pointed out that demand in the north zone stood surprisingly very high as consumption in the region hit 3.148 million tons in October 2017. “It is for the first time that the north zone has consumed more than three million tons in a month.”

In October 2016, the consumption in the north zone totalled 2.489 million tons.

Cement demand in the southern region increased from 0.519 million tons in October 2016 to 0.631 million tons in October 2017.

Owing to the robust growth in domestic cement consumption in the first four months of FY18, the industry utilised over 93% of installed capacity.

“This is the highest capacity utilisation in the past 20 years, however, 1.08-million-ton capacity is still sitting idle,” he said, suggesting this could have been consumed by exports had government policies been export-friendly.

He cautioned that higher cement consumption did not mean economic planners should ignore the challenges faced by the industry.

Among the challenges, he cited the country’s tough regulations and said the industry was surviving because it had upgraded its technology that provided the strength needed to take any challenge head-on.

“Our quality is the best in the region. No cement can compete with Pakistani cement if imported at real and fair value after paying all levies. However, weak border controls and lax customs vigilance allow cement from across the border at unfair valuations,” he added.

The spokesman asked the government to cut the rate of excise duty in order to give a further boost to demand. Similarly, the duty on coal imported by the sector should be brought on a par with other sectors.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #cement production has grown from 35 million metric tons in 2015 to 55 million metric tons in 2021. #CPEC #NayaPakistan #housing #infrastructure #construction #exports

Update on Pakistan, March 2022 - Cement industry news from Global Cement

(Graph in the article shows Pakistan cement production growth from 35 million tons in 2015 to 55 million tons in 2021)

Data from the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) shows that cement despatches have been steadily growing since the mid-2010s with a blip in 2020 caused by the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The upward trend has been driven by local sales. Exports have generally grown at the same time, with more variance, but they are yet to regain the high of nearly 11Mt reported in 2009. On a rolling annual basis, local sales have remained steady since mid-2021 but exports have been slowly falling. In April 2021 they were 9.17Mt but by February 2022 they were 7.33Mt. For the February 2022 figures APCMA blamed this on the growing cost of production, rising international freight rates, mounting coal prices and a trade ban with India. On that last point for example, Pakistan-based producers exported 1.21Mt of cement to India in the 2017 – 2018 financial year before exports stopped after February 2019. Despite a brief respite in the spring of 2021 talks are still ongoing to resume trade with India.

On the corporate side the country’s largest cement producer by capacity, Lucky Cement, drew the same conclusion as the APCMA with its half-year results to 31 December 2021. Its local sales volumes were down a little but its exports were down a lot. It noted that the reason its local sales were falling but national industry local sales were up slightly was due to some competitor plants being non-operational in the previous year. However, the company managed to keep sales revenue and earnings increasing year-on-year by successfully combating growing input costs with price rises. Bestway Cement, the country’s other large producer, reported a tougher situation in the second half of 2021, with both local sales and export volumes down. This was attributed to a boom in construction activity in the second half of 2020 as Covid-19 lockdowns were eased. Demand for cement since then was said to be ‘sluggish’ due to inflation and high commodity prices. It also pinned its marked fall in exports on political and economic instability in Afghanistan. However, turnover and operating profit were both up due to higher selling prices.

Elsewhere in the sector news since the start of 2021, Pakistan’s exports to South Africa remained stymied in early 2020 due to a review of ongoing tariffs and the government decision to restrict infrastructure projects to only using locally produced cement. On the sustainability front the APCMA started to set out its decarbonisation strategy in November 2021. It may have a long way to go given that a think tank reported earlier in the year that the cement sector was the largest emitter of coal-related CO2 emissions in the country, even more than power generation. Alongside this plenty of capacity additions have been announced. Lucky Cement started commercial cement production at its 1.2Mt/yr integrated Samawah cement plant in March 2021. Various new cement plants and upgrades to existing plants have been proposed by Bestway Cement, Cherat Cement, Fauji Cement, Kohat Cement Company, Lucky Cement and Maple Leaf Cement. Finally of note to a sector troubled by energy prices, in September 2021 the Pakistan International Bulk Terminal said it was going to upgrade its coal handling capacity to around 17Mt/yr by 2024.

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