Shares of Live Nation and MSG Entertainment rose 4.2% and 9%, respectively, on Monday (Nov. 29) as investors considered how the coronavirus omicron variant will affect the touring business’ recovery.
The day’s gains halved Live Nation’s 8.8% fall on Friday when news of the omicron variant was first widely publicized, and a 2% gain in after-hours trading suggests investors’ concerns could ease in the following days. MSGE’s spike on Monday more than made up for Friday’s 8.4% drop. Both companies outperformed the market, with the S&P 500 Index rising 1.32% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 0.68%.
Reports Friday that the new variant, first discovered in South Africa, had been detected in Europe sent global markets tumbling and gave the Dow Jones Industrial average its worst drop in 2021. Shares of Live Nation reached an all-time high of $123.80 on Nov. 5 following encouraging third-quarter earnings results and optimism for a strong 2022 concert schedule, but fell 9.3% to $112.32 the following week after 10 fans and hundreds more were injured at the Astroworld festival the company produced in Houston on Nov. 5. Then, on Friday, shares fell from $112.61 to $103.53 at close, based on the omicron news.
Friday’s decline was greater than the short-lived deficit due to COVID-19 delta variant concerns on July 19 when the Live Nation’s shares fell 4.8% and fully recovered in just two days. Going into slow months of winter, the timing of the omicron breakout is less concerning for out-of-home entertainment companies such as concert promoter and theme parks than for recovering industries such as movie theaters and cruise liners that do brisk business in cold months.
Concerns about omicron hampered the recovery of stocks throughout the travel and leisure industries. Delta Air Lines and American Airlines shares fell 8.8% and 8.3%, respectively, on Friday while each fell less than 1% again on Monday. Some hotel companies rebounded slightly on Monday: Hilton Worldwide Holdings recovered a fifth of its 6.2% drop, and Marriot International made back a third of its 6.5% decline. Markets in general have surged in the latter half of 2021 as countries re-opened to travel and governments eased restrictions. Stocks have fared well even as hospitalization rates throughout Europe grew to record levels in November.
Many countries — including the United States, United Kingdom and European Union member nations — quickly restricted travel from South Africa and seven other countries on the continent on Friday. Israel closed its borders to non-citizens at midnight Sunday to stop the omicron variant from spreading beyond two cases detected last week. Japan, which opened to some business travelers and students this month, followed suit and closed its borders to all international travel on Monday. No cases had been reported in the United States through Friday, although the variant has been detected in Canada, Spain, Portugal, Hong Kong and Belgium.
The World Health Organization said on Monday that the omicron variant carries a high likelihood of global spread and its mutations “may be associated with immune escape potential and higher transmissibility,” although it stressed there are uncertainties about whether the new variant is more transmissible or leads to more severe COVID-19 symptoms than the delta and other coronavirus variants. In addition, some experts are concerned that existing vaccines will be less effective against the omicron variant. Existing PCR tests continue to detect infection of variants including omicron, and researchers are trying to find out if the types of rapid testing used at concerts and other live events are also effective, according to the World Health Organization.