Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE:LYV) finished out the trading day with an 8.4% gain after starting the day with a 12% pop. This performance comes a day after the concert venue promoter reported better-than-expected revenue -- but underwhelming earnings.
So what: Live Nation's fiscal fourth quarter showed a 12% year-over-year rise in revenue to $1.61 billion, which included an 18% year-over-year rise in concert-specific revenue to $1.08 billion. This handily bested Wall Street's consensus of $1.46 billion, but Live Nation's $0.42 loss per share -- while much narrower than the $0.85 loss per share seen in the year-ago quarter -- was worse than the $0.34 loss per share analysts were expecting.
The market seemed eager to key on Live Nation's report of record annual revenue, which rose 11% to touch $6.48 billion for the year and which helped the company narrow its adjusted annual loss to only $0.04 per share. The world's largest concert and megaevent promoter was responsible for a whopping 22,852 events that drew roughly 60 million attendees, and also managed the sales of 400 million total tickets. The company ended its 2013 fiscal year with $434 million in deferred revenue, 19% more than it finished with in 2012, and reported a 12% year-over-year rise in concert ticket sales and an 8% year-over-year rise in Ticketmaster sales as of February 15th.
Now what: Live Nation's stock has been a rocket ever since the start of 2013, and investors are already sitting on a double for the past year. The company's GAAP losses have narrowed significantly, but two important measures -- revenue and free cash flow -- have not kept pace with the rise in share price. That may not actually matter much, as Live Nation's trailing 12-month free cash flow, while "only" up 23% over the past year, results in a current price-to-free-cash-flow ratio of 16.5, which is perfectly reasonable for a company that appears to still be improving. On balance, today's pop might be a signal to investors that this once-hated company isn't done improving. It might be time for value-hunters with an eye for strong free cash flow to dig a little deeper.
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