Five questions answered on Apple’s profit surge

It made $6.9bn.

iPhone maker Apple has reported higher profits in the third-quarter than was expected. We answer five questions on Apple’s latest sales surge.

 How much profit did Apple make in the last quarter?

It made $6.9bn (£4.5bn) in the three months to June. This pushed its shares up by 5 per cent in after-hours trading yesterday.

What’s responsible for this better-than-expected profit rise?

It’s iPhone smartphone. Apple sold 31.2m of the mobile device, a record for the June quarter, compared to 26m last year.

How do these latest figures compare to last year overall?

Compared to the same period last year, profit is actually down by 22 per cent. Its profit margins actually shrank to 36.98 per cent from 42.8 per cent.

However, this quarter its sales prices were actually lower at $581, compared with $608 a year ago.

The company’s revenue, which was also better than expected, rose only slightly above the same quarter last year to $35.3bn compared to $35bn a year ago.

What have the analysts said about Apple’s latest figures?

Shannon Cross of Cross Research, speaking to the BBC said:

"The iPhone number should provide some comfort to investors who were worried about smartphone demand.

"That's one of the reasons the stock is up. Expectations were not strong for this quarter."

While Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital, told the BBC:

"This was a 'blah' quarter and the story hasn't changed.

"Until it delivers a new, innovative product that really adds to both top and bottom-line, I would expect the stock to continue treading water."

So, what is next for Apple?

It’s hard to say, except Apple's boss, Tim Cook, did tell the BBC the company – who’s last innovation was the iPad in 2010 – is planning on introducing some new products soon.

"We are later-focused and working hard on some amazing new products that we will introduce in the fall [autumn] and across 2014," he said.

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for

Photo: Getty Images
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Autumn Statement 2015: George Osborne abandons his target

How will George Osborne close the deficit after his U-Turns? Answer: he won't, of course. 

“Good governments U-Turn, and U-Turn frequently.” That’s Andrew Adonis’ maxim, and George Osborne borrowed heavily from him today, delivering two big U-Turns, on tax credits and on police funding. There will be no cuts to tax credits or to the police.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that, in total, the government gave away £6.2 billion next year, more than half of which is the reverse to tax credits.

Osborne claims that he will still deliver his planned £12bn reduction in welfare. But, as I’ve written before, without cutting tax credits, it’s difficult to see how you can get £12bn out of the welfare bill. Here’s the OBR’s chart of welfare spending:

The government has already promised to protect child benefit and pension spending – in fact, it actually increased pensioner spending today. So all that’s left is tax credits. If the government is not going to cut them, where’s the £12bn come from?

A bit of clever accounting today got Osborne out of his hole. The Universal Credit, once it comes in in full, will replace tax credits anyway, allowing him to describe his U-Turn as a delay, not a full retreat. But the reality – as the Treasury has admitted privately for some time – is that the Universal Credit will never be wholly implemented. The pilot schemes – one of which, in Hammersmith, I have visited myself – are little more than Potemkin set-ups. Iain Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit will never be rolled out in full. The savings from switching from tax credits to Universal Credit will never materialise.

The £12bn is smaller, too, than it was this time last week. Instead of cutting £12bn from the welfare budget by 2017-8, the government will instead cut £12bn by the end of the parliament – a much smaller task.

That’s not to say that the cuts to departmental spending and welfare will be painless – far from it. Employment Support Allowance – what used to be called incapacity benefit and severe disablement benefit – will be cut down to the level of Jobseekers’ Allowance, while the government will erect further hurdles to claimants. Cuts to departmental spending will mean a further reduction in the numbers of public sector workers.  But it will be some way short of the reductions in welfare spending required to hit Osborne’s deficit reduction timetable.

So, where’s the money coming from? The answer is nowhere. What we'll instead get is five more years of the same: increasing household debt, austerity largely concentrated on the poorest, and yet more borrowing. As the last five years proved, the Conservatives don’t need to close the deficit to be re-elected. In fact, it may be that having the need to “finish the job” as a stick to beat Labour with actually helped the Tories in May. They have neither an economic imperative nor a political one to close the deficit. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.