Explaining Southern California's economy

Disney earnings: The movie business suffers, but interactive turns around

Mickey at Disneyland

Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

Disney made less money in its first fiscal 2013 quarter but still beat Wall Street expectations. And its online and social gaming segment swung to a profit.

The Walt Disney Co. just announced fiscal 2013 first quarter earnings. They slightly beat Wall Street expectations, at 79 cents per share on $11.34 billion in revenue; analysts who follow the company expected 76 cents per share on $11.21 billion in revenue.

Profits for the quarter were 3 percent lower than a year ago. In after hours trading, the stock was up almost 4 percent.

As with all Disney quarterly earnings announcement, you have to drill into how the company's operating segments performed to get the full picture.

The most interesting wrinkle for the first fiscal quarter was that Disney's movie business lagged all the other operating segments while the previously troubled Interactive segment began to show signs of life.

But before we get to that, let's put the overall business into perspective. Of that $11.34 billion in gross revenue, $5.1 billion — 45 percent — came from Media Networks, which includes ESPN, and believe it not, ESPN actually contributed to a loss in income for Disney in the quarter.

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How Big Content is beating back the threat of Big Tech

Sofia the First

Disney Junior

I will not be aggregated, only monetized, Disney Princess Sofia tells her animal friends.

At the New York Times, the always-worth-reading-no-matter-what David Carr has an entertaining take on why rumors of the entertainment and media industries' demise at the hands of disruptive technological forces are, for now, exaggerated.

Why? Because Old Media — in television and movies, anyway — turned in a better financial performance than the technology upstarts. I've characterized this as a battle between Big Content — Hollywood — and Big Tech, based in Silicon Valley. And according to Carr, Big Content actually isn't in full retreat [emphasis is mine]:

[W]orries about insurgent threats from tech-oriented players like Netflix, Amazon and Apple turned out to be overstated. Those digital enterprises were supposed to be trouncing media companies; not only is that not happening, but they are writing checks to buy content. 

[...]

Another thing about those dinosaurs is that they aren’t really old media in the sense of, um, newspapers. When their content is digitized, it is generally monetized, not aggregated. Having learned from what happened in music and print publishing, entertainment companies, built on the still enormous riches of television, have carved their own digital route to consumers.

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Was outgoing Hulu CEO Jason Kilar fed up with Big Content?

Hulu is one of those companies that stands squarely between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. CEO Jason Kilar stepped down on Friday.

Brian Stelter and Amy Chozick make the case on the New York Times' Media Decoder blog that Jason Kilar's exit from Hulu had a lot to do with the suits who own TV networks:

Mr. Kilar’s announcement did not come as a complete surprise. At times during his tenure he has clashed with the owners on Hulu, exemplifying the divide between new, disruptive modes of distribution like the Internet and the more traditional operations at major media companies. As the owners pulled back on the amount of ABC, Fox and NBC programming it provided to Hulu, the Web site invested in original, made-for-the-Web programming to fill the gaps and attract attention.

The last time it looked as if Kilar would exit Hulu, it was when Yahoo was coming off an executive scandal, with activist shareholder Dan Loeb of the hedge fund Third Point agitating for both board-level and CEO changes. 

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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.

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PHOTOS: Top 10 California business and economics stories of 2012

Apple Introduces iPhone 5

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple introduces the iPhone 5 in San Francisco. It was the first time that the technology juggernaut, the most valuable California company by far, introduced a new device since Steve Jobs' death. Will it be enough to make Apple the world's first $1 trillion company in 2013?

Rupert Murdoch

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times along with dozens of other media properties, finally exited bankruptcy on New Year's Eve. Now the real fun can begin in the City of Angels: Who will buy the hometown paper? Could it be...Rupert Murdoch?

elon musk

Photo Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk watches Dragon's progress inside of SpaceX Mission Control in Hawthorne in May. The former PayPal founder whose other company in electric carmaker Tesla Motors put California's space business back on the map — and ushered in a new era of private voyages to the stars. But will he really be able to retire on Mars?

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

Handout/Getty Images

Disney CEO Bob Iger completes a trip of high-profile acquisitions, beginning with Pixar, then moving on to Marvel, culminating with a purchase of Lucasfilm from George Lucas. "Star Wars" now belongs to the Mighty Mouse — and Episode 7 is on the way! But will Disney be able to inject new life into one of pop cultures iconic entertainment franchises?

Reed Saxon

California was crushed by the housing downturn. But fours years after the bottom fell out, the state's real estate market at last began to show signs of life, as the foreclosure crisis fades and a price bubble even began to form in Southern California. Will the market return to normal in 2013?

FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Dinner New York City

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.

Former Google superstar Marissa Mayer took the helm at troubled Yahoo, after a ugly battle between the board of directors and activist shareholder Dan Loeb. Mayer began to make immediate management changes, brought back free food, became one of the most powerful female CEOs on the U.S. — and had a baby! Can she live up to the hype in 2013?

CinemaCon 2011 - Day 2

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The battle for the future of online content heated up. In early 2012, Silicon Valley and Hollywood dueled in Washington, D.C., over anti-piracy legislation. Hollywood had the lobbying power, embodied by former senator Chris Dodd and the MPAA. But Silicon Valley won a critical skirmish in the eleventh hour by blacking out Wikipedia for a day. Will the combatants be able to strike a truce in 2013?

Job Seekers  Meet With Recruiters At Job Fair

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

At the tail end of 2013, California's unemployment rate dropped into single digits for the first time since 2009. And compared with the rest of the U.S., the state spent 2012 adding jobs at a brisk clip. But will the recovery be able to sustain its momentum in 2013?

 bankrupt pensions

Steven Cuevas / KPCC

San Bernardino fell off its own fiscal cliff in 2012 — and fell fast, declaring bankruptcy quicker than anyone expected. The broke Inland Empire city joined Stockton and Mammoth Lakes in a minor bankruptcy boom in California and set the stage for the municipal bond market's worst nightmare: a long-anticipated wave of defaults in the Golden State. Could that scary event come to pass in 2013?

A sign announcing Facebook IPO is flashe

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

It was supposed to be the initial public offering of the century, enriching Facebook employees and investors and reviving a moribund IPO market for high-tech startups. But Facebook flopped in first-day trading and kept on falling in subsequent days. Facebook's lead banker, Morgan Stanley, was blamed for botching the offering. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went on the defensive. And by year end, Facebook still hadn't recovered it $100 billion valuation. But it topped 1 billion active users before the ball dropped in Times Square to ring on 2013. Will 2013 be the year it bounces back?


This is one in a series of year-end stories that look back at the most memorable pieces KPCC reporters worked on in 2012 and look ahead at a key issue that will be the focus of coverage in the coming year.

How much happened in the Golden State in 2012 when it comes to business? Lots. Lots and lots. The DeBord Report covered most of it. 

The slide show above serves up the business year in pictures for the state with the largest economy and two of America's most storied industries: Hollywood and high-tech.

And if you want to review the business year in links to the original posts...well, I've got that covered, too.

10. Apple introduces the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini — the first all-new gadgets rolled out by Cupertino since the death of Steve Jobs

9. The long, long, LONG Tribune Co. bankruptcy comes to and end. So who will buy the Los Angeles Times?

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