Clear Channel Posts Big Q4 Loss

Live-entertainment revenues dip; radio flat.

Clear Channel Communications Inc. on Friday reported a loss of $4.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2004, due to an accounting change to comply with new federal regulations.

Excluding the charge, Clear Channel's fourth-quarter earnings were $214.3 million, or 37 cents per share, up 14.5% from the $187.2 million, or 30 cents per share, it earned in the same quarter in 2003. The radio and live entertainment giant reported revenues of $2.31 billion in the fourth quarter, a 1% increase over the $2.29 billion reported in fourth-quarter 2003.

For the full year, Clear Channel reported revenues of $9.4 billion, up 5% from 2003's $8.9 billion.

On the live-entertainment side, Clear Channel Entertainment's fourth-quarter revenues were $525.4 million, down 12% from fourth-quarter 2003. The division posted an operating loss of $13.1 million.

The report says that while tour cancellations drove down the number of amphitheater shows in 2004, this was offset by an increase in sponsorships dollars and tour fees from outside promoters. Driving the increase in operating expenses was talent costs, primarily from higher artist guarantees and production costs.

Clear Channel's radio revenues were flat for the quarter at $964.5 million. Expenses were also flat.

Clear Channel stock fell 3.4% Friday to close at $32.75; today, it is trading at $33.22.