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These abysmal results could bolster TME’s contention that adverse economic conditions are part of what is forcing it to merge with Live Nation.

TICKETMASTER ENTERTAINMENT TAKES A BILLION-DOLLAR HIT

But Bad Could Equal Good in Terms of Prospective Merger
Ticketmaster Entertainment took a $1.07 billion hit on revenue of $384 million in the last three months of 2008, the company said in its earning report, issued Thursday. The primary factor was a massive $1.1 billion impairment charge, as shares spiraled downward along with the rest of the stock market. Other factors cited were declining ticket sales and costs associated with layoffs.

But look at the bright side. As Ethan Smith pointed out in the Wall Street Journal, these abysmal results could bolster TME’s contention that adverse economic conditions are part of what is forcing it to merge with Live Nation.

The loss compares with net income of $51.1 million in Q4 ’07. Excluding the impairment charge, net income for the quarter fell 81% to $9.9 million, or 16 cents a share, below analysts’ forecasts. For the year, net income excluding the impairment charge declined 56% to $74.7 million.

During the requisite conference call, Chairman Barry Diller lashed out at politicians who are stonewalling the proposed merger, in particular YY Sen. Chuck Schumer for what Diller described as "always-to-be-expected shameless grandstanding."

In response, Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon said "concertgoers would be better off if Mr. Diller provided cheap seats instead of cheap shots."

Ticketmaster stock has been in decline since Diller spun it off from IAC/InterActiveCorp last year. The Q4 revenue actually represented an increase of 9.4% from the year-earlier period, mainly because of acquisitions, according to the company. TME incurred a loss of $18.82 a share, compared with income of 91 cents a share in the year-ago quarter.

For the year, TME posted revenue of nearly $1.5 billion, a 17% increase from 2007, thanks to the acquisitions of Front Line, controversial secondary-market operation TicketsNow and college-sports ticketing company Paciolan. Full-year ticketing  revenue was about $1.4 billion, for 141.9 million tickets sold—an average of 3% more per ticket than in 2007. The company posted a net loss of $954 million for the year, thanks again to the impairment charge.

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