For the fourth quarter, Live Nation posted a loss of $66.7 million, compared with a year-earlier loss of $86.1 million.

Adjusted per-share earnings reached $50.7 million, down from $56.8 million. Revenue was down 4.2 percent, to $1.19 billion.

Live Nation beat analysts’ expectations, with a loss of about 22 cents per share against the Street’s estimated 30 cents on $1.09 billion.

Calendar year 2011’s net loss narrowed to $83.02, or 46 cents per share, from $228.39 million, or $1.39 per share from 2010. Revenues for the year were $5.38 billion, up from $5.06 billion one year prior.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report a loss of $0.22 per share on revenues of $5.33 billion for fiscal 2011. Analysts’ estimates typically exclude special items.

Lower ticket sales were offset somewhat by Live Nation’s ramped up eCommerce efforts, and the chilling effect of the NBA lockout was tempered by winter onsales that helped make up the difference, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said in the earnings call.

Rapino also pointed to continued early onsales for such big ticket tours including Madonna, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band and others. Global ticket sales in January are up 14 percent, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, and Live Nation had 15 percent more concerts on sale during that month.

Despite the cheery January numbers, Rapino said he expects 2012 ticket sales to show flat to single-digit improvement. The company will continue to focus on Ticketmaster client retention and eCommerce efforts, including the vaunted Pricemaster dynamic pricing tool he continues to promise to roll out this year.

While Pricemaster got significant buy-in from sports team clients, industry observers have noted that artists will be a tougher sell. But Rapino reported that 100 artists have approved the dynamic pricing tool already.

“Most of our promoters have been through the training and can sell it to artists, since they control the price in the end, to make sure they have a flexible, comfortable scaling device,” he said during a question-and-answer session.

Live Nation Chairman Irving Azoff, who oversees Artist Nation and Front Line Management, has been selling the tool to his roster and, according to Rapino, his artists “all understand and support the concept.”

And Rapino pointed to the improvement in Ticketmaster’s response to technology, noting the company was named a Top 10 innovator by nerd business bible Fast Company, after “years of being a laggard.”

Azoff also extolled TM’s newfound virtues, saying “we used to wake up paranoid every day.” With a Facebook app moving tickets and some 200 million individual users in Live Nation’s database, that’s apparently no longer the case.

The stock was inactive in after-market trading at press time. The stock’s share price is about about 26 percent since the New Year, and is up 1 percent from one year ago.