LN 4Q Preview: Loss To Double, Say Analysts

Live Nation Entertainment Inc. reports its fourth-quarter earnings after the market closes on Monday.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: What the company says about its negotiations with artists for the upcoming summer concert season. Last year, the concert industry took a hit because of declining attendance and high prices. Live Nation is looking to trim costs by booking fewer shows and getting artists to lower ticket prices for seats at the back of the house.

The company is also expected to face new competition from AEG, the No. 2 concert promoter in the nation, which said it will sell tickets at its own venues in the future using technology from its joint venture, Outbox Technology, rather than use Live Nation’s Ticketmaster unit.

Because Live Nation had to supply Ticketmaster technology to AEG as a condition of its January 2010 merger, its profit margins were already severely compromised, the company’s chief executive of ticketing, Nathan Hubbard, told an investor conference this month.

The impact on Live Nation’s overall ticketing business from losing the AEG business will be relatively small, Hubbard said.

In January, Live Nation trimmed its annual adjusted operating income forecast for 2010 by 7 percent to about $362 million, after agreeing to settle a class action lawsuit against its Ticketmaster division over online fees charged to customers.

WHY IT MATTERS: Live Nation represents artists such as U2 and Madonna and owns or leases more than 100 venues around the world including about a dozen House of Blues venues in the United States.

WHAT’S EXPECTED: Analysts polled by FactSet expect Live Nation to post an adjusted loss of 18 cents per share on revenue of $1.12 billion.

LAST YEAR’S QUARTER: Live Nation posted an adjusted loss of 9 cents per share on $854 million in revenue, although that was before its merger with Ticketmaster.