Live Nation Quarterly Sales Climb on Events, Sponsorship

Live Nation Entertainment Inc., the world’s biggest concert promoter and ticket seller, said first-quarter sales climbed on higher revenue from events, sponsorship and advertising.

Sales increased 6.4 percent to $923.7 million, the Beverly Hills, California-based company said in a statement yesterday. That exceeded the $920.2 million average of five analysts’ estimates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The company reported a net loss of $63.2 million, or 33 cents a share, compared with a loss of $69.2 million, or 37 cents, a year earlier, beating the average analyst estimate for a 36-cent loss.

Live Nation is redesigning its Ticketmaster unit to boost revenue and wring more profit from ticketing, as well as moving to reduce money-losing concerts. The results are the first for the company after the exit of former Chairman Irving Azoff, who was replaced in March with Greg Maffei, president and CEO of Live Nation’s biggest shareholder, Liberty Media Corp.

The number of worldwide events hosted by Live Nation increased 1.6 percent to 4,880, while attendance climbed 12 percent to 8.1 million, according to the statement.

“This is a great attendance figure,” Chief Operating Officer Joe Berchtold said in an interview yesterday. “We’re driving more attendance for each show.”

‘Growth Drivers’

Adjusted operating income rose to $52.9 million from $48.2 million, missing the $53.9 million average analyst estimate. It excludes acquisition costs, asset sales, depreciation, amortization and stock-based compensation.

Live Nation expects sponsorship and advertising “to continue to be one of its primary growth drivers” and forecast an increase in full-year adjusted operating income to be in “the high-single to low-double digits, consistent with the past few years,” it said in a separate statement.

The company will increase market share in concerts and ticketing by about 5 million tickets between 2012 and 2015, and expects to deliver over half of that growth this year, Chief Executive Officer Michael Rapino said on a conference call yesterday.

Live Nation shares gained 2.2 percent to $13.23 at the close in New York yesterday, and have increased 42 percent this year.

Adjusted operating profit from the sponsorship and advertising division rose 15 percent to $23.8 million as the unit’s revenue increased 11 percent to $40.1 million.

New Business

Ticketing profit fell 18 percent to $59.6 million as revenue was little changed at $325.1 million. The number of tickets the company handled fell 2.6 percent to 35.7 million, as some big concert tours went on sale earlier in the year, Berchtold said on the call.

Concerts lost $13.1 million, compared with a loss of $25 million a year earlier, as revenue climbed 14 percent to $513.5 million.

Azoff stepped down in December to start a new business representing artists including the Eagles and other acts he managed for the company’s Artist Nation unit. In the quarter, that unit lost $1.1 million, compared with a loss of $3 million a year earlier, as revenue slid 18 percent to $50.3 million.