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Business Watch

Posted: 07/23/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0


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Apple's Q3 earnings up

SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple's growth prospects are looking brighter as anticipation builds for the upcoming release of the next iPhone, a model that is expected to cater to consumers yearning for a bigger screen.

The latest evidence of Apple's mounting momentum emerged Tuesday with the release of the company's fiscal third-quarter report.

Earnings topped analysts' projections for the period as Apple Inc. sold 35.2 million iPhones. That was a 13 per cent increase from the same time last year, even though many people are believed to be holding off on new device purchases until the next version comes out this fall.

"From an execution perspective, we did a really great job," Apple chief financial officer Luca Maestri said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We have some things in the pipeline that we think people will really be excited about."

Apple earned US$7.7 billion, or US$1.28 per share, for the three months ending June 28. That represented a 12 per cent increase from income of US$6.9 billion, or US$1.07 per share, at the same time last year.

The earnings per share for the latest quarter exceeded the average estimate of US$1.23 per share among analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Revenue rose six per cent from last year to US$37.4 billion -- about US$600 million below analysts' forecasts.


Income off at Microsoft

REDMOND, Wash. -- Microsoft Corp. reported fourth-quarter earnings that took a hit from the Nokia devices business it bought in April, but the company said growth in Internet-based computing services to businesses boosted results.

Net income in the three months through June 30 fell seven per cent to US$4.61 billion, or 55 cents per share, from US$4.97 billion, or 59 cents per share, a year ago.

Microsoft said the absorption of the Nokia unit cut eight cents per share from earnings. It lost another net three cents on restructuring and tax-related items. Excluding those items, earnings hit 66 cents per share, beating the 60 cents expected by analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue rose 18 per cent to US$23.4 billion, although US$2 billion came from the Nokia unit. That was slightly better than the US$23 billion analysts were looking for.

Shares rose 16 cents to US$44.99 in after-hours trading following the release.

Microsoft announced last week it is cutting up to 18,000 jobs over the next year, mostly related to Nokia. Most of the US$1.1 billion to US$1.6 billion in restructuring charges for the cut will be recorded in the coming two quarters.

The company is transitioning to provide more of its software and services to mobile devices that are linked to distant back-end servers known as the cloud.


A&W's sales up, profit down

VANCOUVER -- A&W Revenue Royalties Income Fund said Tuesday its second-quarter profit fell to $4.1 million, but total sales were up about 12 per cent as the fast food chain repositions its brand with beef raised without the use of hormones.

The burger franchise earned $5.6 million in the same quarter last year.

Excluding non-cash gains and losses on interest-rate swaps, the fund said it earned nearly $5 million in its latest quarter, up from $4.2 million a year ago.

Total sales reported by A&W restaurants in the royalty pool for the quarter were $221 million, an increase of 11.9 per cent from sales of $197.3 million year-over-year.

The number of restaurants in the royalty pool increased to 790 from 760 in the same period last year.

Last September, A&W announced its Canadian outlets would no longer use beef from cattle that received steroid or hormone injections in its burgers.

"Our move to beef raised without the use of hormones and steroids continues to generate excellent consumer response," said Paul Hollands, president and CEO of A&W Food Services of Canada Inc.

"Overall, we are pleased with the success of our strategic initiatives to reposition, strengthen and expand the A&W brand."

Same-store sales (at stores open for at least a year) for the second quarter of 2014 were up seven per cent compared with growth of 0.4 per cent a year ago.

Year-to-date sales were $404.5 million, an increase of 10.2 per cent from sales of $367.1 million for 2013 year-to-date. The increase in sales was due to higher sales from the 30 net new restaurants added to the royalty pool on Jan. 5, 2014 and the same-store sales growth.


-- from the wire services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 23, 2014 B6

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