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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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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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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.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter. And ask Matt questions at Quora.

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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.

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Is Lucasfilm the last nail in the Disney filmmaking coffin?

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. Disney just bought Lucas' company, Lucasfilm, for $4.05 billion.

Sorry to get to a Halloween headline a few days late, but Erica Orden had a very good piece in the Wall Street Journal Thursday about how Disney's $4.05 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm, announced this week, will basically place in-house filmmaking at the feet of CEO Bob Iger's purchases: Pixar for $7.4 billion in 2006 and Marvel for $4 billion in 2009.

Here's Orden:

With the new "Disney-Lucasfilm" brand set to release a "Star Wars" sequel every other year beginning in 2015, the original studio is likely to face an even-further-reduced capacity to produce and distribute its own live-action fare. In total, Disney distributes roughly a dozen films each year.

Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger indicated this week that the coming "Star Wars" films will supplant Disney movies on the release schedule. Disney doesn't plan to spend more than it already does on film production, Mr. Iger said, meaning each new "Star Wars" film will lead to one less Disney film.

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