Business

Business in brief: Apple Inc. posts best profits ever

SAN FRANCISCO – Apple Inc. rocketed to its most profitable quarter ever over the holidays, as huge sales of the iPhone – and a new way the company accounts for the device – led to a nearly 50 percent jump in net income.

The iPhone’s rollout in several major new markets, including China and South Korea, helped Apple double sales of the hot phone. Apple also got a boost because now it puts iPhone revenue and profit on its books when the gadget is sold, rather than deferring those results over the presumed life of the device.

Apple said Monday it earned $3.4 billion, or $3.67 per share, in the latest quarter, which ended Dec. 26. In the same period of 2008 it earned $2.3 billion, or $2.50 per share, when it was still deferring iPhone revenue. Revenue was $15.7 billion, a 32 percent jump from $11.9 billion in the same period last year.

Whitacre named permanent CEO

DETROIT – Ed Whitacre Jr. is dropping the interim from his CEO title at General Motors Co., and he reaffirmed Monday the automaker would repay in full its loans from the U.S. and Canadian governments by June.

Whitacre said GM’s board asked him to become permanent CEO last week, ending a seven-week search for a new top executive.

Whitacre also said GM will repay its $8.1 billion in loans from the U.S. and Canadian governments all at once and might pay them even earlier than June.

The U.S. government provided GM with $52 billion in assistance – including about $6.7 billion in loans – that the automaker used to survive and emerge from bankruptcy protection last year. Much of that will be repaid when the company goes public again. Whitacre wouldn’t give a timeline for an initial public offering Monday.

Support grows for Bernanke

WASHINGTON – Bolstered by a White House lobbying effort, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s chances at a second four-year term improved Monday, calming a stock market that had grown anxious over the uncertainty of his support.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., expects a vote by the end of the week, his spokesman said Monday. And David Axelrod, a top adviser to President Barack Obama, said Bernanke has the votes to keep his job.

The Federal Reserve, with its power to set interest rates that influence economic activity, employment and inflation, wields extraordinary influence over the lives of millions of Americans. It also plays a crucial role as the country’s lender of last resort when banks can’t get their money elsewhere.



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