Business

Apple's iPhone sales boost earnings

Apple store Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Apple reports third quarter earnings on the same day it releases Apple Pay digital payment service

Apple reported fourth-quarter earnings of $8.47bn (£5.24bn), a 13% rise from the same period a year earlier, beating analysts' expectations.

Profits at the technology giant were helped by sales of its new iPhone 6 models, which were on sale for 10 days during the three-month period to 30 September.

Total iPhone sales hit 39.3 million.

However, sales of Apple's iPad disappointed, with 12.3 million sold, down from 13.1 million a year earlier.

"Our fiscal 2014 was one for the record books, including the biggest iPhone launch ever with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus," said Apple chief executive Tim Cook in a statement accompanying the earnings report. He added that he was optimistic for the crucial holiday quarter coming up.

Apple shares rose over 2% in after-hours trading after the earnings were released.

Pay for the future

The earnings were announced on the same day that Apple introduced its digital payment system, Apple Pay, at a host of US retailers including supermarket chain Whole Foods and pharmacy Walgreens.

Some analysts believe that alongside iPhone sales, Apple Pay could be one of the biggest drivers of revenue growth at the company in coming years.

The technology works by allowing users to scan their fingerprint using an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus to access stored credit information to pay for goods at participating retailers.

However, while analysts are optimistic about ApplePay's potential, only a few stores are currently equipped to use the technology - and several large retailers, most notably Wal-Mart, have yet to sign on to the service.

Furthermore, the technology is only available on the newest model of iPhones.

PC boom

On a conference call to discuss earnings, Apple chief financial officer Luca Maestri highlighted a surprising area of strength: Mac laptop sales.

He said that Mac sales hit a quarterly record, which was especially notable given the state of the overall global PC market, which had been declining.

On the call, Mr Cook also emphasized that Apple had repurchased $17bn of its own stock during the quarter - perhaps a nod at shareholders like Carl Icahn who have demanded that the technology giant return even more money to holders of its stock.

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