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LIVE NATION EYES
SUMMER RESTART

Michael Rapino has a message for investors and the concert industry: Live Nation has $2b in available liquidity; almost twice as many major artists will be on tour in 2022 than a typical year (about 45 vs. the usual 25); and the road to return is already being paved in the U.K. and Australia.

On top of that, festivals will be back once vaccinations have become widespread, as soon as late summer.

“Given the massive social and economic toll that the lockdown has had on the public, we believe there will be strong momentum to reopen society swiftly as soon as vaccines are readily available,” said Rapino, President and Chief Executive Officer of Live Nation Entertainment. “And we believe outdoor activities will be the first to happen.”

Proof, he said, could be found in the U.K.'s Reading and Leeds Festivals selling 100,000 tickets within 72 hours of the government's OK on Monday.

The U.K. and Australia had “the right game plan” by going straight to 100% capacity for outdoor events, and Rapino believes concerts in the 75%-100%-capacity range will receive the greenlight this year.

“We’re better off waiting,” Rapino said on a conference call with investors and analysts after releasing Live Nation’s financial results for 2020, “to talk to artists about getting paid properly.”

The U.K. and Australia already have a “reasonable module model” that will allow live entertainment to resume in late summer there as well as in some U.S. states. Once restrictions on capacity are eased in the U.S., Rapino says it will take three months to get venue/marketing infrastructure up and running; Live Nation expects to begin outdoor shows in the South and Southwest in November.

The sooner the better, of course, so as to forget 2020, when Live Nation promoted a mere 8,117 concerts, down from 40,237 in 2019, selling 120m tickets vs. 482.5m the year before. The company also refunded 27.4m fee-bearing tickets in 2020. The global refund rate is 17%; 63% of festivalgoers are holding onto their tickets as they await new dates.

Revenue in 2020 dropped 84% to $1.47b. The company’s deferred revenue for events over the next 12 months was $1.5b as of 12/31, compared to $1.4b as of 9/30.

The results come on the heels of Live Nation's stock hitting record highs over the last two weeks, closing for the first time ever over $90 on Wednesday. The stock opened today at $91.07 and rose 70 cents before dropping to the still impressive price of $86.89.

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