Live Nation earnings beat estimates as concert rebound continues unabated

Shares of Live Nation Entertainment Inc. gave up after-hours gains Thursday after the concert-venue and ticketing giant reported second-quarter results that beat estimates and forecast “record” results for 2023, with more gains ahead next year.

Live Nation
which owns Ticketmaster and controls a large swath of the concert industry, reported net income of $331.3 million, or $1.02 a share, compared with $228.4 million, or 66 cents a share, in the same quarter last year. Revenue rose 27% to $5.63 billion, compared with $4.43 billion in the prior-year quarter.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected Live Nation to earn 65 cents a share, on sales of $4.95 billion.

After initially gaining about 2% after hours Thursday, shares retreated and ended the extended session down 0.8%.

Executives said that more than 117 million tickets were sold so far this year, up 20% from last year. They also said they expected “record” Ticketmaster sales for 2023, and that the company was on track to manage 600 million tickets for the year.

“Live music is bigger than ever, with global demand driving the industry to record levels,” Live Nation Chief Executive Michael Rapino said in a statement.

“There’s a more diverse pipeline of artists breaking from all corners of the world, and at the same time tours are going to more markets — particularly in Latin America and Asia,” he continued. “This was our strongest second quarter ever, with 2023 on pace to be a record year, and early indicators for 2024 giving us confidence in continued growth.”

Live Nation reported earnings as the concert “revenge-spending” boom continues, after largely shutting down in 2020 and part of 2021 due to the pandemic. Analysts have been wondering when that demand might run out of gas, as inflation continues to eat into consumer savings. Musicians themselves have dealt with higher touring costs over the past year.

In recent months Live Nation has faced greater government scrutiny — including a Justice Department investigation — over its dominance of the live-entertainment business. That scrutiny also comes after ticket demand for Taylor Swift’s “Eras” crashed Ticketmaster and as President Joe Biden tries to crack down on so-called “junk fees.”

Live Nation executives recently met with Biden to discuss ways to boost transparency, and Live Nation last month unveiled a plan to show customers the full ticket price. Some advocates have said that adding transparency didn’t solve the fundamental issue at play — that Live Nation oversees too much of the industry.

But Wall Street analysts say the regulatory risks have faded, after executives made an effort to work with the government on fees. Shares of Live Nation are up 40.8% so far this year, as those concerns subside.

“We believe that by proactively working with lawmakers to implement tighter ticketing regulations in consumers’ best interest (All-in Pricing and FAIR Ticketing Act), LYV will appease politicians’ concerns while avoiding a DOJ lawsuit,” Oppenheimer analysts said this month.

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