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NINE YEARS OF GROWTH FOR LIVE NATION

Live Nation saw its ninth consecutive year of growth in 2019, with revenue up 7% to $11.55b, operating income up 19% to $325m and concert attendance nearing 100m.

Concerts, attended by 98m people, brought in $9.43b, an 8% spike over 2018; ticketing was up a pinch to $1.55b; and sponsorships rose 17% to $590m.

The company produced 40,256 events in the year, 28,426 of them in North America. In  its annual report, Live Nation Entertainment President and CEO Michael Rapino said the company spent $6b to promote the 40,000+ shows in 42 countries.

Live Nation added added 38 new venues in 2019, including six new festivals and 18 new theaters and clubs. Festival and theater/club attendance globally was up double-digits.

Rapino reported that concert ticket sales this year through mid-February for 2020 shows are up 10% to 38m. The company has already booked 4,700 arena, stadium and amphitheater shows, up 30% from the same time last year.

Rapino said the company has improved at on-site hospitality over the past several years that has resulted in generating more money per fan once they’re in the venue: At amphitheaters in 2019, spending grew by $2.50 to over $29 per head.

In the fourth quarter, which ended 12/31, concert revenue was up 12% to $2.3b, ticketing was up 2% to $448m and sponsorships rose 25% to $148m. The company’s operating adjusted income was up 18% to $80.8m.

During a call with analysts, the effect of the coronavirus was discussed. It has resulted in the cancellation of 17 Live Nation shows in China and the company has about 70 shows booked in Asia with an expected attendance of 200,000 fans.

Asia, Rapino pointed out, represents about half of 1% of the company's business so Live Nation is cautious, but not concerned about any financial impact.

In affected areas, there has been “no pullback in terms of demand,” LN President Joe Berchtold said, noting that 70% of the business in Asia is done between June and December.

“There’s certainly flexibility to re-route [tours]. If a concert doesn’t happen we wouldn’t have to  pay the artist."

Live Nation also has 30 shows booked over the next three months in Italy.

“These are the easiest one to manage," Rapino said. “It’s harder when the festival is canceled on a Saturday and you have 60,000 fans there.”

The company traditionally does not give full-year guidance in February, but Berchtold did say they expect “pretty good growth this year.”

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