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Ticketmaster loses $1B in 4Q on accounting charge

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RYAN NAKASHIMA | March 19, 2009 04:42 PM EST | AP

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LOS ANGELES — Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. lost $1.07 billion in the fourth quarter, as the ticket-selling company that hopes to merge with concert promoter Live Nation Inc. had to take a huge impairment charge to account for its falling share price.

Ticketmaster said Thursday the loss amounted to $18.82 per share in the three months to Dec. 31.

The $1.1 billion goodwill write-down reflected the decline in the company's stock price, which debuted at $20 when it spun off from IAC/InterActiveCorp in August. Shares closed Thursday down 3 cents at $4.09 before the earnings were announced.

Excluding the charge, earnings fell 81 percent to $9.9 million, or 16 cents per share.

Revenue grew 9 percent to $384 million, mainly due to acquisitions.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected, on average, earnings of 29 cents per share on revenue of $378 million.

"Last year was a year of transition for Ticketmaster Entertainment," said Irving Azoff, who became chief executive in October when Ticketmaster took a controlling interest in his talent management company, Front Line Management Group Inc.

"While I'm pleased that in the midst of an evolving music industry and a challenged consumer environment we were able to show substantial growth in free cash flow, we won't be satisfied until we transform the company," he said in a statement.

Free cash flow increased to $49 million from negative $15 million in the same period a year ago.

The number of tickets sold in the quarter decreased 9 percent to 35.1 million. And the gross value of the tickets sold fell 14 percent to $2.13 billion.

The company said the economy was partly to blame. Ticketmaster also cited the loss of a contract with Live Nation, which launched its own ticketing platform in January, and fewer big-name tours than in the same period a year earlier.