Sunday 26 January 2020 2:38 pm

Apple investors hope streaming boom will boost first-quarter figures

Apple shareholders will be hoping for a boost from the escalating streaming wars when the tech giant reports its first-quarter figures this week.

The iPhone maker will issue its quarterly results on Tuesday — the first time since it launched Apple TV Plus in November.

Apple posted a three per cent decline in net profit to $13.7bn (£10.5bn) in the fourth quarter, despite revenue rising to $64bn.

The company has suffered a decline in sales of its flagship iPhones in recent months, and last year issued a profit warning due to a worse than expected slowdown in China.

However, Apple has looked to shift its focus towards its services division, and shares have more than doubled over the last 12 months, taking its valuation to roughly $1.4 trillion.

“If iPhone sales continue to slow in 2020 then Apple will need to shift a lot more product elsewhere to offset missing out on the higher margins for its phones,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

“In the fourth quarter services and accessories generated $12.5bn and $6.5bn respectively, so investors will be looking for this particular area to continue to show decent growth in the months ahead as consumers keep their existing iPhones longer.”

Chief executive Tim Cook has forecast revenue of between $85.5bn and $89.5bn in the first quarter, up from $84.3bn in the same period last year.

Apple’s new streaming service, which costs £4.99 per month, is one of a string of new rivals looking to steal Netflix’s crown.

Research by Ampere Analysis has estimated that the platform had more than 33m subscribers at the end of last year, putting it ahead of newly-launched rival Disney Plus.

However, many of the customers are thought to be taking advantage of a free one-year trial, meaning Apple may not yet be cashing in on the venture.