Concert giant Live Nation Entertainment Inc. posted an uptick in first-quarter sales, driven by higher ticket sales along with losses that were slightly less than expected as the company continues to spend heavily on upgrading its online ticketing infrastructure.
The Beverly Hills-based company, which also operates Ticketmaster, said Wednesday that revenue grew 2% in the quarter ended March 31 to $868 million, up from $849.4 million a year earlier. It also posted a net loss of $70.2 million, or 37 cents a share, up from a $54.3-million loss, or 27 cents a share, in 2011. The losses stem in part from the company's multiyear effort to build up its online marketing, ticketing and e-commerce capabilities.
Analysts polled by Thomson Financial on average had expected slightly higher revenue at $870.8 million, as well as higher losses of $71.3 million, or 39 cents a share.
Live Nation's Chief Executive Michael Rapino noted that ticket sales were especially strong in the first quarter.
"Importantly, we also saw a 6% increase in ticket sales this quarter as compared to last year, reflecting strong demand for our live events and giving us great confidence that we are well positioned for the summer concert season," Rapino said in a statement.
The ticketing and live events company also announced it had acquired Cream Holdings, a British organizer of the Creamfields electronic music festivals and DJ club events. The companies did not disclose the purchase price.
Live Nation said Cream Holdings founder and chief executive James Barton will become president of Live Nation Electronic Music, charged with leading the company's expansion into the rapidly growing genre.
Live Nation's shares gained 10 cents to close at $8.31 prior to the earnings release.
-- Alex Pham
Photo: A Creamfields music event. Credit: Creamfields.