Live Nation Shares Drop After 2 Analyst Downgrades

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Shares of Live Nation Inc. dropped on Wednesday after two analysts downgraded the concert promoter and predicted that consumers will cut back on ticket purchases in 2009.

Live Nation shares dropped $1.38, or 17.1 percent, to $6.67 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded between $7.45 and $18.75 during the past 52 weeks.

Natixis Bleichroeder analyst Alan Gould lowered his rating to "Hold" from "Buy," noting that Ticketmaster began to see a slowdown in ticket sales in August.

"Live Nation has not seen a decline yet, but we feel the current recession will be deeper and longer than past recessions," Gould said. He said it is likely that concert results will soften by the seasonally important spring and summer season.

Gould also cited increased competition in his note to investors. "Ticketmaster, with the acquisition of the majority of Irving Azoff's Front Line Management, will now have a relationship with artists in addition to its relationships with fans," he said. "This should make it more difficult for Live Nation to gain market share in the ticketing business."

Separately, CL King & Associates analyst James B. Boyle cut the company's rating to "Neutral" from "Accumulate." He said management's view that Live Nation is more recession-resistant than other entertainment companies is "too hopeful."

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