Live Nation has reported a net loss of $18.4 million, or 25 cents per share, in the fourth-quarter ended Dec. 31, 2007.

The Los Angeles-based company posted a loss of $33.1 million during the same period in 2006. The narrowed but continued loss occurred during a time when fewer big-ticket music acts toured, according to Live Nation.

Despite the loss, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino remains confident that the company's revenue will continue to rise in 2008.

"We believe Live Nation today is a significantly stronger organization strategically and financially than just one year ago," Rapino said today (Feb. 28) during a conference call with investors. "Our business strategy is crystal clear: to create a vertical integrated distribution platform that capitalizes on the live experience, and directly unites artist, fan and sponsor."

Live Nation's revenue during the fourth quarter declined about 4% to $1 billion, largely because of fewer concerts at North American amphitheaters. The company reported that its operating income increased to $4.2 million from an operating loss of $14.7 million a year earlier.

Overall in 2007, Live Nation saw a net loss of $11.9 million, or 17 cents per share, versus a net loss of $31.4 million last year. Revenue for 2007 increased to $4.2 billion from $3.6 billion in 2006.

"I'm pleased to report that our live music business is strong and our fundamentals continue to improve," Rapino observed. "In 2007, we served over 45 million music fans, 1,500 artists and more than 15,000 music events across 18 countries."

A main goal in 2007, Rapino said, was to shed the company's non-music assets, including its North American theatrical business (Billboard.biz, Jan 24, 2008). "Since the beginning of 2006, we have divested assets for total sale gross proceeds in excess of $260 million," he noted.

Looking forward to 2008, Rapino said, "We are not seeing, nor do we expect to see, a significant impact on our business from the economic slowdown." This year will also find the company focusing on the Jan. 1, 2009 launch of its worldwide ticketing business with Germany-based ticket marketer and promoter CTS Eventim.

"We believe that our ticketing platform will offer compelling growth opportunity by leveraging our $20 million annual controlled tickets that our core business generates," Rapino explained. "We believe we can unlock value by entering the direct ticketing business at a relatively low entry cost."

Another focus in 2008 will be its Live Nation Artists division. Last October, Live Nation Artists entered into an all-encompassing 10-year deal with Madonna. The $120 million partnership will oversee Madonna's future music and music related businesses, including new studio albums, merchandising and touring.

"We are currently in discussions with several major artists at this time," Rapino commented. "We offer a partnership based on highly transparent and predictable revenue streams in an industry going through a major transition. Through these diversified rights partnerships, we expect to build cross collateralized opportunities in which both the artist and Live Nation benefit from higher margin revenue streams."

Rapino also predicts that Live Nation's 2008 revenue will be driven by tours from such acts as the Police, Jonas Brothers, Van Halen, Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige, Tom Petty, Tim McGraw and Toby Keith, among others.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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