Event organizer and ticket distributor Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE:LYV) reported results after the closing bell on Tuesday, covering the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017.

A 20% year-over-year increase in tickets sold combined with higher average prices to generate 26% higher top-line sales. Here's a closer look at Live Nation's report.

Live Nation's fourth-quarter results: The raw numbers

Metric

Q4 2017

Q4 2016

Year-Over-Year Change

Revenue

$2.55 billion

$1.80 billion

42%

Net income available to shareholders

($124 million)

($118 million)

5%

GAAP earnings per share (diluted)

($0.60)

($0.58)

(3%)

Data source: Live Nation.

What happened with Live Nation this quarter?

The live entertainment business is strongly seasonal, with far larger audiences and ticket sales during the summer. That being said, Live Nation's fourth quarter showed the fastest year-over-year growth since the year-end period of 2011.

On top of the seasonal effects, Live Nation recorded a $110 million legal settlement expense in the fourth quarter. In that proceeding, ticket-selling start-up Songkick accused Live Nation of blocking the smaller company's access to concert tickets for presale. The case was settled just days before the scheduled trial, and Live Nation ended up buying some of Songkick's patents and technology assets.

Average ticket prices rose 5% in 2017, and event attendees also spent more on food and keepsakes during their visits. In particular, an upgraded range of higher-end food and beverages drove on-location spending 9% higher in Live Nation's amphitheater events.

Close-up view of a vintage microphone, with a live music show happening in the background.

Image source: Getty Images.

What management had to say

In a prepared statement, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino extolled his company's efforts to grow and support the music business as a whole.

"Across all of the artists we work with, we invested $5.6 billion to promote 30,000 shows in 40 countries, with Live Nation by far the largest financial supporter of artists in music," Rapino said. "In 2017, we built on our leadership position across our business, with double-digit fan growth in both North America and internationally, and across arenas, stadiums, festivals, and theaters and clubs."

Looking ahead

Live Nation's main growth strategy is to invest in arranging more concerts around the world, and high-margin business such as ticket distribution, sponsorship deals, and on-site spending will follow. This idea has been working for the several years, and nothing is changing in 2018.

Ticketmaster's ticket sales rose 5% year over year in the first six weeks of 2018, over 70% of the coming year's sponsorship opportunities have already been contracted, and on-site experience improvements will continue. Overall, Live Nation expects "strong growth" across all of its segments this year.

Anders Bylund has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Live Nation Entertainment. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.