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Loan advisers have high hopes

Mortgage advisers have high hopes for this year, forecasting an increase in business of 3.5 per cent for the first quarter, according to the Paragon Mortgages&#39 Fact index published this week. This follows a fall in confidence during the final quarter of last year. General confidence levels dropped to 104.4 per cent from 106 per cent in the summer quarter and 109.7 last spring.

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Friends Provident credit ratings improved

Friends Provident has received increased credit ratings from Standard & Poor&#39s, AKG and AM Best , following discussions about the company&#39s proposed demutualisation. Friends Provident group chief executive Keith Satchell says: “Recent industry events have highlighted the need for financial services companies to be well capitalised and have financial flexibility. These significant improvements to our […]

PIA disciplines RJ Hurst and Partners

The Personal Investment Authority has taken disciplinary action against RJ Hurst and Partners of 131-133 New London Road, Chelmsford for pensions review failings. The firm has been fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,300 and received a reprimand. In addition, the firm was ordered to appoint external consultants to carry out certain aspects […]

Coffee to go at the new-look Abbey

Abbey National is linking up with retail brands Costa and the Carphone Warehouse to launch its first banking superstore in Croydon. The superstore will offer banking facilities and financial services and will demonstrate how customers can use internet technology to manage their money. As part of the initiative the Abbey is testing a new logo, […]

Dual track solution for Royal Skandia

ROYAL SKANDIA UK Equity Fund Type: Offshore unit-linked fund. Aim: Growth by investing in UK actively and passively managed funds. Minimum investment: £15,000 lump sum, £100 a month. Place of registration: Isle of Man. Investment split: 100 per cent UK. Yield: Nil. Charges: Annual one per cent. Commission: Subject to negotiation. Tel: 01624 611611. David […]

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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