Updates from Apple, BP and Lloyds

The FTSE 100 climbed just four points yesterday to 6,725. Aggreko accelerated forward +6.0% to 1608p on power project demand with Randgold Resources in second place, up +4.57% to 4851p.

Overnight in Asia, the Nikkei 225 is down -0.49% at 14,325 while the Hang Seng climbs +0.41% to 22,898. %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%We start with a 9% profits cut from Apple. Although Apple sales hit more than $170bn in the year to October, competition from Samsung and other rivals are biting into Apple's profit margins. Total annual profits slip to $37bn from $41.7bn.

iPad sales remained flat in the last three month period, though this is not so surprising given the recent launch of the company's new iPad Air model, superseding the previous iPad 4.

Apple has however still sold a record number of iPhones in the last quarter (33.8mn). Notably, boss Tim Cook said the company was increasingly looking at "significant opportunities" in new product categories (think, possibly, Apple TV).

Next, a Q3 update from Lloyds. Underlying profits soar +83% thanks to shrinking costs and a reduction in bad loans, plus better margins generally. Overall profits for the third quarter come in at £1.52bn, compared to £831mn the year before. However Lloyds' PPI bill rises by another £750m.

The better profits news may see chief exec Antonio Horta-Osorio take a substantial bonus (Sky News is reporting £2.5m). In total for the first nine months of the year, underlying profits now climbs to £4.4bn. Lloyds remains 33% owned by the taxpayer.

"We are targeting," says Horta-Osorio, "a leading cost position through the delivery of our Simplification programme, which is already substantially decreasing our operating leverage and improving our processes and the service we deliver to our customers."

Finally, big oil news: BP says third quarter earnings came in at $3.7bn rather than the $3.2bn region anticipated by some analysts. BP has also hiked its dividend - a quarterly dividend of 9.5 cents, up 5.6% - though BP investors will be well aware that shares still remain badly damaged from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill (about a third down).

Net debt at the end of the quarter was $20.1 billion, compared with $31.3 billion a year ago. The ratio of net debt to net debt plus equity at the end of the quarter was 13.3% compared with 20.9% a year ago, claims the company.

"The strong operational progress," said chief exec Bob Dudley, "we are now seeing across the group, combined with our focus on disciplined investment, also underpins our confidence in growing long-term sustainable free cash flow and being able to increase shareholder distributions."

Read Full Story