TM Report Today

Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc., the ticket-selling giant preparing to merge with concert promoter Live Nation Inc., is set to report its fourth-quarter earnings after the closing bell Thursday.

It marks the first time the company reports earnings under Chief Executive Irving Azoff, who took over the top spot in October when Ticketmaster took a majority stake in his talent management company, Front Line Management Group Inc.

Gabelli & Co. analyst Brett Harriss said he’ll be interested to hear about Front Line’s detailed business results for the first time, as well as any indication on advance ticket sales for the summer concert season.

“The bear case is that concerts are the ultimate in discretionary spending and that ticket sales will just dry up,” Harriss said.

He is also listening for any news about the company’s planned merger, which they expect to close in the second half of 2009. Both companies were grilled last month by congressional lawmakers over antitrust concerns.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect, on average, earnings of 29 cents per share on revenue of $378 million.

For the full year to December, the company is expected to earn $1.45 per share on $1.45 billion in revenue. Analyst expectations typically exclude one-time items.

There are no prior-year comparisons, because until being spun off in August of last year, Ticketmaster was part of IAC/InterActiveCorp, a set of Internet properties run by billionaire Barry Diller.

Ticketmaster shares closed Wednesday up 23 cents, or 5.9 percent, at $4.12.