Cement industry likely to underperform over the next six months

According to a latest survey, the industry is suffering from sluggish offtake, the southern region has turned in a lacklustre performance and dealers believe that the onset of the monsoon could further dampen prospects for the sector 

The volume growth of the top three domestic cement players-ACC, Ambuja Cements and UltraTech for May 2011-was mixed on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis, says the latest Sharekhan report on the industry. ACC managed a decent performance with a strong 13.7% growth in its dispatches. Ambuja Cements and UltraTech suffered a volume decline of 6.6% and 3.2% respectively. Overall cement offtake was sluggish, thanks to delayed execution of infrastructure projects coupled with a slowdown in housing sales. On a sequential basis, all major players registered decline in their dispatches, says the report.

Dealers have confirmed that cement offtake has remained sluggish. The southern region (particularly Andhra Pradesh) has turned in a lacklustre performance. Demand was hit badly in West Bengal due to the recently-concluded elections. The western market of the country continues to be better-off.  

Cement prices during May decreased in most parts by Rs8-Rs10 per 50kg bag. The price correction was due to over-supply from new capacity additions. Dealers also believe that with the onset of the monsoon, prices could decline further in June. The Sharekhan report says that the sector could underperform in the coming six months.

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Auto sales continue to chug along

Despite rising fuel prices, hikes in product prices and a tight interest rate regime, the automobile sector has managed to turn in a decent performance

According to a study by KRChoksey (Institutional Research), the country's automobile sector has managed to turn in a decent show, despite the steady increase in fuel costs, the tight monetary regime adopted by the Reserve Bank of India and hikes in vehicle prices by almost all manufacturers.

In the two-wheeler segment, TVS Motors posted the highest growth rate supported by strong demand across segments-especially mopeds. Hero Honda sold more than 5 lakh units for the third consecutive time. The manufacturer has reached the 1-million landmark in two months of the current fiscal, says the report. Bajaj Auto's numbers were boosted by export growth and its motorcycle segment also put in a good show.

In the three-wheeler segment, Bajaj and TVS continued their upward trend. Bajaj Auto has gone in for capacity expansion and it aims to sell around 45,000 units of its three-wheelers on a monthly basis. TVS is planning to follow suit and increase the export of its three-wheelers. Rural demand, a (possible) timely monsoon and minimal impact of increase in interest rates on two-wheelers have brightened the prospects for the two-wheeler industry, says KRChoksey. But in the four-wheeler segment, sales were disappointing in May. Maruti Suzuki posted flat volume growth in May (its exports dropped 13% year-on-year). Tata Motors registered strong growth, thanks to its commercial vehicle sales. With rising Indian per capita income, export prospects and planned capacity additions, the outlook for this segment remains positive, says the study.

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Number of visitors to travel sites up 32% in the past year to 18.50 million

Indian Railways, MakeMyTrip and Yatra Online lead the pack of most-visited sites

According to comScore, a digital survey firm, the number of visitors to travel sites has gone up by 32% in the past year to 18.5 million, as more Indians turned to the Internet for their travel needs. "The online travel category continues to show strong growth in India," said Kedar Gavane, director (India), comScore. "The convenience of booking trips and locating travel information online continues to appeal to many users, especially among India's young Internet population. As the online travel industry matures, it will be important for brands to provide increasing functionality, ease of use and security to its users to effectively compete in this growing market."

According to the comScore survey, in April 2011, 18.50 million online users visited a travel site from a home or work location, an increase of 32% from the previous year. Indian Railways was the most-visited travel destination with 8.40 million visitors, an increase of 8% from the previous year. MakeMyTrip reached nearly 3.90 million visitors (up 63%) followed by Yatra Online with 3.5 million visitors (up 82%) and ClearTrip.com with more than 2.10 million visitors (up 80%). US-based Expedia Inc secured the 5th position with 1.80 million visitors (up 12%).

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