Apple reports biggest annual profit in history

Net income of $53.4bn eclipses that made by ExxonMobil in 2008, although iPhone maker warns of slowing growth

Apple has recorded the biggest annual profit in corporate history, with record sales of the iPhone helping it to make $53.4bn (£35bn) in the last 12 months.

The world’s biggest company surpassed the $45.2bn made by ExxonMobil in 2008, after the release of its latest smartphones increased profits by 31pc in its fourth quarter.

However, Apple warned that growth is likely to slow down significantly in the crucial Christmas period, and sales of the iPad fell by a fifth to their lowest level since 2011.

The company predicted that sales in the current quarter would be between $75.5bn and $77.5bn – as little as 1pc up on the same period last year – partially due to a strong dollar.

Apple has been facing questions about its ability to maintain the tremendous growth that propelled it to a $750bn value this year, as China’s economic troubles raise fears about customer demand for its pricey devices.

Analysts have also suggested that the Apple Watch, the company’s first new product category since Steve Jobs’ death four years’ ago, has got off to a slow start since launching earlier this year.

Nonetheless, Apple said revenue increased by 22pc to $51.5bn in the three months to September 26, the final quarter of its fiscal year. The company sold 48m iPhones, an 22pc increase, during the quarter, which included the first two days that its new 6s and 6s Plus models went on sale.

Android users are switching to the iPhone at a record rate, the company said.

Apple’s full-year revenue reached $233.7bn and annual profits were $53.4bn – equivalent to just over $1bn a week.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said the quarter had been “a very strong finish to a record-breaking year”, and that sales in China, which Apple expects to become its biggest market, had been strong despite recent economic turmoil.

“Looking at our sales trends I wouldn’t know there’s an economic issue at all in China,” he said.

One low point for the company were sales of its iPad tablet, which at 9.9m were 20pc down on the same quarter last year. Sales of the iPad have now fallen for seven consecutive quarters and are at their lowest since early 2011, with owners upgrading the device far less frequently than their iPhones.

Apple shares were flat in after-hours trading, as the better-than-expected sales were cancelled out by somewhat disappointing forecasts for the next quarter.

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