* Q3 EPS $1.67 vs $0.49 year ago
* Rev and profit boosted by strong summer concerts
* Profit boosted by tax benefit and sale gain (Adds CEO comment, profit details)
By Yinka Adegoke
NEW YORK, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Concert promoter Live Nation Inc (LYV.N) posted a higher third-quarter profit on Thursday, as consumers flocked to outdoor summer concerts even in a slowing economy.
The company said sales growth was driven by an increase in the number of events, attendance, ancillary revenue per attendee and average ticket prices, though these were partly offset by a decrease in arena events in North America, which accounts for around half of revenue.
“Despite challenging times, millions of fans have continued to attend live concerts to support their favorite artists,” Chief Executive Michael Rapino said in a statement.
Live Nation, which is moving more directly into selling tickets and signing artists for recording contracts, said its third-quarter net income rose to $139.9 million, or $1.67 a share, from $41.6 million, or 55 cents a share, a year ago.
The quarter’s profit was boosted by a $58 million tax benefit and a gain on the sale of its motor sports unit in September to privately held Feld Entertainment.
Excluding the tax benefit, Live Nation’s profit would have been 55 cents a share. That appeared to beat the average analyst forecast of 49 cents, though it was not clear if the figures are directly comparable, according to Reuters Estimates.
Revenue rose 9.4 percent to $1.59 billion. David Joyce, analyst at Miller Tabak, said that was a little ahead of his $1.56 billion estimate due to the strong showing at Live Nation’s North American music as well as international business.
Live Nation has put in place a strategy to diversify its revenue streams within the music business and improve on the low margins typically seen in the promotions business.
In the last year, it made headlines by signing several prominent artists including Jay-Z, Madonna, Shakira and Nickelback to so-called 360 degree contracts that cover the artists’ concert promotion, merchandising and recording.
In the process, the Los Angeles-based company has ruffled the feathers of some music industry insiders while also receiving support from others who believe the sector needs a shakeup to survive.
Live Nation’s biggest move has been its strategy to handle concert ticketing by itself, ending a long alliance with Ticketmaster TKTM.O in January 2009. Ticketmaster was recently spun off from parent IAC/InterActiveCorp IACI.O.
Shares were unchanged from their close of $10.09 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Yinka Adegoke, editing by Matthew Lewis)