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Live Nation Gains as Quarterly Sales Surpass Estimates

Live Nation Entertainment Inc., the world’s biggest concert promoter and ticket retailer, rose the most in almost two months after reporting fourth-quarter sales that beat analysts’ estimates.

The shares advanced 2.9 percent to $10.41 at 1:35 p.m. in New York after gaining as much as 4 percent, the most since Jan. 2. Through yesterday, the stock had climbed 8.7 percent this year.

Sales rose 21 percent to $1.44 billion, Beverly Hills, California-based Live Nation said yesterday in a statement. That exceeded the $1.29 billion average of four analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The company’s Ticketmaster unit performed better than expected, Benjamin Mogil, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus & Co., wrote in a research report.

The loss widened to $159.7 million, or 85 cents a share, including $68.2 million in costs tied to its artist-management unit and the exit of Live Nation’s former chairman, Irving Azoff. The Artist Nation unit recorded $5.5 million in costs from Azoff’s departure and $62.7 million to write down some client-vendor relationships, the company said.

Adjusted operating income of $62.5 million missed the $63 million estimate of Mogil, who rates Live Nation hold. The figure excludes acquisition costs, asset sales, depreciation, amortization and stock-based compensation.

Chief Executive Officer Michael Rapino is revamping Ticketmaster, opening offices in Asia and Latin America, and adding festivals to Live Nation’s lineup with a goal of boosting operating income by 35 percent through 2015.

Ticket Sales

“Looking forward to 2013, I am confident that we will continue the successful growth of the core business,” Rapino said in the statement.

Live Nation has sold 9 million concert tickets for shows this year, a 58 percent increase from a year ago, Rapino said. The revamp of Ticketmaster will be complete this year, producing new products, he said.

During the quarter, company hosted 6,280 events attended by 11.9 million people, according to the statement. That compares with 6,671 events that drew 11.3 million people a year ago, Live Nation said.

The concert division narrowed its fourth-quarter operating loss to $77.1 million, from $80.7 million, on revenue that rose 32 percent to $915.8 million. The Ticketmaster unit posted an operating profit of $22.4 million, up 40 percent, on sales that gained 5.6 percent to $372.5 million.

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