Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 02 August 2017

Healthy iPhone sales push Apple shares to record high

The iPhone 7 inside an Apple Inc. store in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 16, 2016. Lucy Nicholson/Reuters file photo
Apple Inc on Tuesday delivered surprisingly strong fiscal third-quarter earnings and signalled that its upcoming 10th-anniversary phone lineup is on schedule, driving the stock up 6 percent to an all-time high in after-hours trading.

The stock climbed above its intraday record high to $159.10 (120.44 pounds) after the company reported better-than-expected iPhone sales, revenue and earnings per share. The stock price move was expected to help drive the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the 22,000 mark on Wednesday.

Apple also said it hit a milestone of 1.2 billion iPhones sold.

The April-June quarter is traditionally a soft one for Apple as the market waits for the September launch of new iPhone models. But Tuesday’s results show that iPhone buyers may be less inclined than they once were to delay purchases until a new model is out.

The iPad product lines also showed unexpected strength, service revenue continues to grow at a healthy clip, and even the much-maligned Apple Watch showed a 50 percent sales increase.

Apple is widely tipped to adopt higher-resolution OLED displays for the latest iPhone, along with better touchscreen technology and wireless charging – which could come with a $1,000 plus price tag.

The phone is expected to launch in September.

The company forecast total revenue of between $49 billion and $52 billion for the current fourth quarter, while analysts on average were expecting $49.21 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Apple’s fourth quarter generally includes first-weekend sales of the company’s latest devices.

The forecast “makes it fairly certain that at least some new iPhone models will be released on the normal schedule,” said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research. “That doesn’t necessarily mean all new models will go on sale then, or that they’ll all be in abundant supply, but I would think it means that at the very least the successors to the current phones will be available.”

But Bob O’Donnell, chief analyst at TECHnalysis Research, cautioned that if Apple releases cheaper models before the premium models in its 10th anniversary phone lineup, the cheaper models could dampen sales of more expensive units released closer to the holidays.

The company said iPhone sales rose 1.6 percent to 41.03 million in the third quarter ended July 1, above analysts’ average estimate of 40.7 million units, according to FactSet StreetAccount. Apple sold 40.4 million iPhones a year earlier.

But a lower average iPhone selling price of $606, well below Wall Street expectations of $621, caused iPhone revenue to come in at $24.8 billion, below expectations of $25.5 billion.

Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told Reuters the weak price was partly explained by Apple lowering the flow of inventory by 3.3 million units, which he said were “entirely at the high end of the range.”

Apple reports how many phones it sells to retailers, not how many phones it sells to consumers, what is known as a sell-in basis. When factoring how many existing “high end” phones the company cleared out of retail inventory, Maestri said average selling prices were higher.

The company’s net income rose to $8.72 billion, or $1.67 per share, from $7.80 billion, or $1.42 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose to $45.41 billion from $42.36 billion in the quarter, typically the company’s weakest, beating expectations of $44.89 billion.

China revenue down, autonomy to the future

Apple said revenue from emerging markets excluding China grew 18 percent, a bright spot. But sales from the Greater China region fell 9.5 percent to $8 billion in the latest quarter, as consumers switched to newer domestic offerings.

The decline was smaller than recent quarters. Apple’s Maestri said mainland China revenue was flat, as were iPhone sales in the mainland. Sales of other Apple products rose in mainland China and were also up in Taiwan.

“The decline from a market standpoint was concentrated in Hong Kong, which is a place that has been really affected by a reduction in tourism because the Hong Kong Dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar,” Maestri said.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also directly addressed the company’s decision to remove so-called VPN apps from the App Store in China. Those apps help Chinese users circumnavigate government internet restrictions.

“We would obviously rather not remove the apps, but like we do in other countries we follow the law wherever we do business,” Cook said. “We believe in engaging with governments even when we disagree. This particular case, we’re hopeful that over time the restrictions we’re seeing are lessened, because innovation really requires freedom to collaborate and communicate.”

Strong iPad sales of $4.9 billion – almost $1 billion above Wall Street expectations – and a 21.6 percent jump in the company’s services business that includes the App Store also helped boost revenue. In particular, Apple said that Walmart Stores Inc (WMT.N) would buy 19,000 iPads to train as many as 225,000 employees. The company also said it increased production of AirPods, its wireless headphones.

Apple CEO Tim Cook declined to directly address U.S. President Donald Trump’s claims that Apple will build three new factories in the U.S., instead citing the company’s job creation efforts and a $1 billion U.S. manufacturing fund.

Cook also hinted that Apple’s experiments with self-driving cars may include ambitions that extend beyond cars. He said the company is making a “big investment” in autonomous systems.

“From our point of view, autonomy is sort of the mother of all AI projects,” Cook said. “And the autonomous systems can be used in a variety of ways, and a vehicle is only one, but there are many different areas of it. And I don’t want to go any further with that.”

  • Published in Tech

HBO conducts forensic review to understand scope of hack

HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler and, right, Emilia Clarke in a scene from the latest season of 'Game of Thrones.'

Richard Plepler chairman and CEO of Home Box Office Inc. speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California, U.S., October 25, 2016.
Mike Blake

HBO’s chief said on Wednesday that the company is conducting a forensic review of its computer systems to better understand the scope of a cyber attack that surfaced over the weekend.

Entertainment Weekly reported on Monday that hackers stole 1.5 terabytes of data and leaked online a script or treatment for an upcoming episode of the network’s popular series “Game of Thrones,” along with yet-to-be-broadcast episodes of the series “Ballers” and “Room 104.”

The hack comes at a sensitive time for HBO, as its parent Time Warner Inc is waiting for regulatory approval to sell itself to AT&T Inc in an $85.4 billion deal announced in October.

An HBO spokesman declined to discuss details of the hack.

Chairman Richard Plepler told employees in a Monday email seen by Reuters that the hackers had stolen “proprietary information,” including some programming.

In his note on Wednesday, he said that some employees had expressed concern about the email system.

“At this time, we do not believe that our email system as a whole has been compromised, but the forensic review is ongoing,” he said.

Plepler’s note said that HBO would hire an outside firm to provide credit monitoring for employees, but did not explain why.


Brazilian lawmakers junk graft charge vs Pres Temer

Brazilian President Michel Temer. (Reuters)

BRASILIA — Brazil’s lower house of Congress voted on Wednesday to reject a corruption charge against President Michel Temer for allegedly taking bribes, saving him from facing a possible Supreme Court trial that could have ousted him from office.

Temer won enough ballots to keep the opposition from gaining the two-thirds of the vote required to move the corruption case forward to the top court.

The strong show of support for Temer raised the prospects that he can now move ahead with reform of Brazil’s pension system that is crucial to plug a wide budget deficit and revive investor confidence in an economy emerging from recession.

But Temer is widely expected to face more corruption charges in the coming weeks, which would again put his presidency at stake.

Opposition lawmakers, carrying briefcases stuffed with fake money, chanted “Out with Temer!” on the House floor at the start of the day-long tumultuous session.

Temer’s main coalition ally, the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), which seeks to win the presidential election next year, was split on whether to back Temer, whose economic policies it shares, or distance itself from his corruption-plagued government.

PSDB leader Ricardo Tripoli, calling for the charge to be approved, said Temer must be investigated, “not because we want to oust the president, but because Brazilians are tired of so much suspicion surrounding their politicians.”

To shield Temer only further undermines the credibility of Brazil’s political system, Tripoli said.

Brazil’s stocks and currency rose earlier on Wednesday after a cloture vote signaled a victory for Temer and robust support for his reform agenda to cut spending and restore confidence in government accounts.

Brazil’s top prosecutor Rodrigo Janot in June charged Temer with arranging to eventually receive a total of 38 million reais ($12.2 million) in bribes from the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS SA in return for political favors.

Temer and his legal team have denied any wrongdoing.

His supporters have said that Janot failed to provide proof that he had broken the law.

Lawmaker Paulo Abi-Ackel of the PSDB credited Temer with turning around the economy, falling inflation, interest rates and record unemployment, and early signs of renewed growth.

“Is this the right time to be removing the president?” he said on the House floor, appealing to his peers to clear Temer.

Temer had scrambled for support in recent days to avoid becoming the second president to be ousted in a year in a deepening crisis fueled by massive corruption investigations.

Temer’s hold on office could become precarious if new corruption charges are brought against him as expected. With the 2018 election year approaching, key lawmakers have told Reuters they would find it harder to back him again later his year.

Janot has said he would file at least two more graft-related charges against Temer before he steps down in mid-September.

Janot is considering filing the charges of obstruction of justice and racketeering sooner now that lawmakers have rejected the first corruption charge, an official with direct knowledge of the investigation told Reuters, requesting anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter.

Janot’s team has to provide evidence linking Temer to a payment made by JBS to his right-hand man, Rodrigo Rocha Loures, who was arrested in June after he was caught in a police video rushing out of a Sao Paulo restaurant with a bag full of cash handed to him by a JBS executive.

  • Published in World

Lanao del Sur gov’t wants inter-provincial security corridor formed in Mindanao

Reuters file photo shows smoke following a military air strike in Marawi.
MANILA, Philippines – Despite indications that authorities are on their way to reclaiming Marawi City from the hands of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups, the Lanao del Sur provincial government still thinks that defense should remain a priority in Mindanao amid military intelligence reports that the region remains under terrorist threat.

Thus, the Lanao del Sur government urged the national government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to help the region form an inter-provincial security corridor to intensify counter-terrorism measures in Mindanao.

“Alam po natin ‘yong [We know the] manner by which they conduct their own operation. Ang Maute at saka Abu Sayyaf ay hindi lang sa isang area, nagmu-move po sila around, so ginagawan lang nila ng pang-initial salvo ang Lanao del Sur [The Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups are not confined to one area, they move around and just made their opening salvo in Lanao del Sur], so that they can also attract other supporters from outside to come in and then do another attack in several areas in Mindanao,” said Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong.

“Kasi kapag nagkaroon tayo ng safety crusade corridor d’yan, ma-compress natin ang lahat ng provinces and ma-set up natin ‘yong security protocol d’yan, medyo mahihirapan na silang pumasok,” added Adiong, spokesperson of the Provincial Crisis Management Committee.


Expect heavy rains, thunderstorms due to habagat

MANILA, Philippines — Occasionally heavy rains and gusty winds due to thunderstorms can be expected Thursday as the southwest monsoon continues to affect the country.

Prevailing weather conditions have prompted class suspensions in the following:


Cainta, Rizal
Tanay, Rizal
Taytay, Rizal
Cavite City

College of San Benildo, Rizal
“Cloudy skies with light to moderate rains due to (the) southwest monsoon, and possible occasionally heavy rains and gusty winds due to thunderstorms will be experienced over Metro Manila, Visayas and the regions of Ilocos, Cordillera, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Caraga, Northern Mindanao, Davao and Zamboanga Peninsula,” the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.

The rest of the country will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms.

The weather bureau is also monitoring typhoon “Noru,” whose eye was last tracked 1,565 kilometers east northeast of extreme Northern Luzon, outside the Philippine area of responsibility, packing winds of 160 kilometers per hour with gusts of up to 195 kph as it moved north-northwest at 13 kph.

“Moderate to occasionally strong winds blowing from the southwest will prevail over the northern and western section of Luzon and the coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to occasionally rough,” Pagasa said.

“Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate coming from the southwest with slight to moderate seas,” it added.


U.S. to press Duterte on rights, urge tougher action on North Korea by China and ASEAN

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at a press conference. (Reuters file)

WASHINGTON — The United States would “certainly” raise human rights with President Rodrigo Duterte’s government when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attends regional meetings in Manila starting this week, a senior official said.

Susan Thornton, the acting assistant secretary of state for East Asia, said Tillerson will also press China and other Asian countries to take tougher action against North Korea.

Criticism of Duterte’s bloody war on drugs by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama damaged relations between the long-standing allies. Duterte has remained defiant, accusing critics of “trivializing” his drug campaign with human rights concerns.

Thornton said Tillerson would have the chance to engage with China’s foreign minister at the meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila, but had no plans to meet North Korea’s foreign minister there.

Thornton said Tillerson, who is due in Manila on Saturday, would be seeking greater cooperation in isolating North Korea and in enforcing U.N. sanctions over its missile and nuclear weapons programs. She said Washington wanted to see countries “drastically” reduce their dealings with Pyongyang.

“What we are trying to do is galvanize this pressure and isolate North Korea so it can see what the opportunity cost is over developing these weapons programs,” she told reporters in a telephone briefing to preview Tillerson’s trip.

Thornton said China had taken “significant steps … frankly unprecedented steps” to increase pressure on its neighbor North Korea, but it could do “a lot more” to step up enforcement of existing sanctions and to impose more.

“We would like to see more action faster and more obvious and quick results, but I think we’re not giving up yet.”

Thornton’s remarks contrasted with those of U.S. President Donald Trump, who on Saturday accused Beijing of doing “nothing” to help on North Korea and pointed to the huge U.S. trade deficit with China.

A senior Trump administration official said on Tuesday that Trump was close to a decision on how to respond to what he considers China’s unfair trade practices and was considering action that could lead to tariffs or other trade restrictions on Chinese goods.

Thornton declined to comment on any possible action but stressed that despite Trump’s tweets, North Korea and the trade issue were not linked in a “transactional,” but “in a sort of philosophical way.”

“Can we work together jointly on the key security challenge facing Northeast Asia, which is the North Korea challenge?” she said. “If we can work together to do that, surely we can have a productive, mutually beneficial economic relationship in which we both enjoy reciprocal and fair access to each other’s markets.”

Thornton said Tillerson would continue to press China on the South China Sea issue while in Asia, where the United State has been pressing for rapid adoption of a code of conduct over competing territorial claims.

Tillerson will also visit Thailand next Tuesday and then Malaysia. His visit to Bangkok will be the first by a U.S. secretary of state since before the military seized power in a 2014 coup.


Suspended BOC exec Larrybert Hilario denies hand in entry of P6.4-B shabu shipment

Suspended BOC executive Larrybert Hilario finally showed up in Congress on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017, during a House inquiry on the shipment to the country of P6.4 billion worth of shabu. PHOTO BY BOY SANTOS/PHILSTAR

MANILA, Philippines – Since the start of the week, Bureau of Customs officials led by Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon have been blaming suspended BOC risk management officer Larrybert Hilario for failing to enter crucial information on an illegal shipment.

The clerical shortcoming, they say, allowed some P6.4 billion worth of shabu to pass through the BOC’s express green lane undetected.

But Hilario vehemently denied the accusation when he finally showed up in Congress on Wednesday, August 2, during the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs’ inquiry on how the drug shipment was able to enter the country right under BOC’s nose and the agency’s alleged mishandling of the May 26 raid when the narcotics were seized.

“Ako po ay humaharap sa komite para pabulaanan ang paratang na mayroon akong kinalaman sa pagpasok ng P6.4-billion shabu sa BOC [I am facing the committee,” said Hilario.

He said he even flagged the consignment for inspection after noticing that a customs broker with a bad record vouched for the new merchant.

But Hilario said the BOC’s Imports and Assessment Division allegedly ignored his request.

“Kung pinakinggan lang ako sana na-hold ang shipment at nagkaroon ng physical inspection. Hindi po sana nailabas ang importation ng EMT Trading kung nagkaroon lamang ng full physical exam,” he said.

[Had they listened to me, the shipment could have been put on hold and subjected to physical inspection. Had there been full physical exam, EMT Trading could not have released the importation.]

During the House inquiry, lawmakers again quizzed BOC officials after Hilario claimed that he was not properly informed about his suspension.

House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas was skeptical of the BOC’s account of how it was able to track down the illegal shipment after it breezed through Customs.

Neil Estrella, director of the BOC’s Customs Intelligence and Investigative Service, said he thought that those behind the shipment were cooling off and watching if somebody was following them when BOC operatives caught the importation before the owners were able to call to have it delivered to them.

“Tingin ko binabantayan nila kung sila ay nasundan. Pinapalamig muna nila. Naunahan namin ang tawag nila na i-deliver ang shipment,” said Estrella.

Earlier in the day, Faeldon criticized government officials who allegedly wanted to influence promotions at the bureau.

“They want me to influence the promotion board so that their people here would be promoted. And I tell them right in their face I will never lift a finger to influence promotions here. That is a form of corruption,” said Faeldon.

“But please I’m appealing to you. You know your request is a form of corruption and you insist and magagalit pa kayo [you will even get angry]. My God! Shame on you! This is not your property. This is the Filipinos’ Bureau of Customs so don’t act like you own this,” he added.

Congressmen parried allegations of corruption levelled against them by Faeldon, saying there was nothing wrong if lawmakers lobby for the promotion of some employees of the agency.

“And, if Faeldon listens to his fiancee’s advice, as what he told an earlier congressional inquiry about the P6.4 billion smuggled drugs, why can’t he heed the words of lawmakers who were elected by the people, Quezon City Rep. Vincent “Bingbong” Crisologo said.

Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay acknowledged that he had recommended a person in the bureau.

“I recommended one, but it doesn’t mean that when you recommend one he is not qualified. If he’s not qualified then it’s up to you,” he said.

“There’s nothing wrong in politicians recommending because we are representatives of the people,” Pichay added.

Subscribe to this RSS feed


Sign up to keep in touch!

Be the first to hear about special offers and exclusive deals from TechNews and our partners.

Check out our Privacy Policy & Terms of use
You can unsubscribe from email list at any time