Handicapping Live Nation’s Q4

Live Nation Entertainment Inc., the company formed after concert promoter Live Nation merged with ticketing giant Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. last month, reports its fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday after the market closes.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Investors will be focused more on what management says about moving forward than on the company’s quarterly results, because this is the first conference call since the merger closed in January after a yearlong antitrust review.

Any talk of synergies or new business plans will be key. The companies previously said they expect to save about $40 million annually by eliminating overlapping functions. That was before the divestiture of a ticketing subsidiary, which was ordered by the Justice Department.

The company also recently settled an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission that looked into consumer complaints about tickets sold for Bruce Springsteen concerts last year. The FTC said refunds could go to thousands of ticket buyers. The refunds could ultimately total more than $1 million.

WHY IT MATTERS: Live Nation is now the most powerful force in the live music business, with an artist roster that includes U2, Madonna, Jay-Z and the Eagles. Its operations that span more than 30 countries.

The companies have said music fans will benefit through lower ticket prices because the merged company can earn money in ways that separate companies could not.

WHAT’S EXPECTED: Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect a loss of 53 cents a share on roughly $811 million in sales.

LAST YEAR’S QUARTER: The two companies operated separately in the past, so there are no direct comparisons with the year-ago period.