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Disney finishes 2012 as the Los Angeles region's most valuable company

Mickey at Disneyland

Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

Mickey Mouse gestures as he poses during the launch of Disneyland Paris's 20th birthday celebrations. Back in the U.S.A., the Walt Disney Company finished the year as the most valuable publicly traded company in the L.A. region.

The stock market has officially ended its final day of trading for 2012. So which Los Angeles company wound up racking up the highest valuation?

The answer is completely unsurprising: $88.23 billion is how much the Walt Disney Company was worth as the closing bell rang on New Year’s Eve at the New York Stock Exchange.

Disney handily beat out the L.A. area’s two next most valuable companies: biotech colossus Amgen and energy giant Occidental Petroleum.

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Disney in 2012. Theme parks and broadcast networks performed well, but the movie business struggled — with a major flop, "John Carter," and a shakeup in executive leadership in April before “The Avengers” broke box office records

After all that, CEO Bob Iger closed out the year with a bold move: He paid a bit more than $4 billion to buy Lucasfilm and bring the “Star Wars” franchise into the house the Walt built.


Disney-Lucasfilm: Now it's a $4 billion done deal

George Lucas Poses With A Group Of "Star Wars" Inspired Disney Characters At Disney's Hollywood Studios

Handout/Getty Images

George Lucas meets a group of "Star Wars"-inspired Disney characters. Federal regulators just approved the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm.

The U.S.  government has given its OK to the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm for just over $4 billion.

Disney can now move forward with its plan to release "Episode VII" of the "Star Wars" saga, bring Star Wars characters into theme parks in a bigger way, and merchandise the heck out of Luke, Darth, Yoda, Boba, Chewie, Han, and the rest of the spacefaring gang.

Disney announced the acquisition in late October. For CEO Bob Iger, it completes a suite of deals, beginning with the $7.4 billion purchase of Pixar in 2006 and the $4 billion price for Marvel in 2009. 

Evidently, federal regulators don't believe, as many "Star Wars" fans seem to, that Disney will screw up one of the most lucrative and iconic franchises in all of entertainment.

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Disney earnings: A good fourth quarter, but old problems remain

disney disneyland

Photo by KeithJ via Flickr Creative Commons

The Happiest Place on Earth continues to bring in profits for Disney, which is making money on theme parks but losing money on movies.

Disney just reported earnings for its fourth quarter and financials for its fiscal year. Fourth-quarter earnings were basically in line with expectations, even though the entertainment giant — which just spent $4.05 billion to buy Lucasfilm and the "Star Wars" franchise — didn't quite bring in as much revenue as analysts wanted, for the second consecutive quarter. Still, profits were up and a $10-billion-plus quarter isn't too shabby.

Overall, the company reported a three percent increase in revenue year-over-year. 

However — and it's a big howeverDisney continues to struggle with both its movie and interactive businesses. Year-over-year, broadcast, theme parks, and consumer products revenues were all up — with parks up by 10 percent. Studio entertainment and interactive revenues were both down year-over year — with interactive posting a 14 percent loss for both the quarter and the fiscal year.


Did Disney overpay for Lucasfilm — or get a great deal?

George Lucas Poses With A Group Of "Star Wars" Inspired Disney Characters At Disney's Hollywood Studios

Handout/Getty Images

George Lucas poses with a group of "Star Wars"-inspired Disney characters. Disney is buying Lucasfilm for $4 billion and with it, the "Star Wars" franchise.

Did you hear? Disney just announced that it's buying "Star Wars" — I mean Lucasfilm — for $4.05 billion. That sounds like a lot, but people are already raising questions about whether the financial upside to owning one of the most famous entertainment franchises of all time is really there for the Mighty Mouse and Disney CEO Bob Iger. 

We have two main lines of thinking. One is that, in the context of Disney and Iger's previous blockbuster acquisitions — Pixar for $7.4 billion in 2006 and Marvel for $4 billion in 2009 — Lucasfilm, even if it comes with an influential special effects operation, looks curiously undervalued. I noted this in my post yesterday when I observed that Disney, in announcing the deal, tallied the all-time film grosses for "Star Wars" at $4.4 billion. That's just movies. Wouldn't that mean - when you take into account all the toys and games and just endless amounts of Star-Wars-y stuff - that the property is worth billions more?