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Firms get tailored help in Raising Standards

The Pensions Protection Investments Accreditation Board is offering a service to help firms seeking accreditation under the Raising Standards initiative.

The new set-up stage in the accreditation process builds on experience gained during the first wave of accreditations in the scheme&#39s first year of operation. Brands will get help in preparing efficiently for accreditation and receive a tailored support programme. There will be no rise in the accreditation fee as a result of the service.

Chief executive John Cox says: “With over a third of the market accredited and a further third seeking accreditation or in preliminary discussions, Raising Standards has succeeded in securing the commitment of a significant proportion of the market in a very short space of time. Maintaining this momentum and ensuring the demanding standards are attained and upheld remain our key priorities. We anticipate this additional stage will help ensure continued momentum, attracting brands early on to benefit from our accumulated expertise in aligning accreditation with the best deployment of resources. We hope this enhancement to our service will appeal to all applicants including smaller brands.”

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Apple: a stellar technology story

By Ali Unwin, head of technology sector research

Apple recently announced the highest-ever recorded quarterly net profit ($18bn), with the sale of 74.4 million iPhones helping the company deliver $74.6bn of revenue for the quarter ending December 2014. These sales were largely driven by strong demand for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Highlights included Chinese iPhone sales doubling year-on-year and unit growth of 44% in the US — supposedly a well-penetrated market. Apple ended the quarter with $178bn in cash on its balance sheet, having generated a staggering $30bn in free cash flow during the quarter.

At Neptune, we have been long-term believers in the Apple story, and continue to hold the stock in a number of our portfolios based on the company’s long-term growth prospects. This is predicated on our belief that Apple has proved thus far that it can — unusually for a consumer electronics company — maintain high margins for a sustained period of time, even as adoption of new technology slows down and competitors produce similar-specification products.

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