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MSG Entertainment Revenue Down 94%, But Things Are Looking Up

Madison Square Garden Entertainment’s (MSGE) revenue in the three months ended Dec. 31 — its fiscal second quarter — was $23.1 million, down 94.1% from the $325.4 million posted in the period a year earlier, the company announced Friday (Feb. 12).

The quarter was the live music business’s third full quarter affected by shut-down orders that bought touring to a standstill. MSGE had just $46.5 million of revenues from April 1 to Dec. 31, 2020, down 94.1% year over year from $787 million.

Although MSGE’s share price fell as much as 6.5% to $94.01 on Friday, investors have faith in live entertainment: Closing at $97.02, MSGE has lost little value since it spun off from MSG’s sports division at $100 on April 9, 2020. Its shares were trading below $70 as recently as Nov. 2 — the beneficiary of a bull market as well as positive news about vaccination rollouts.

MSGE’s $1.45 billion of liquidity on Dec. 31 was helped by a debt sale of $650 million in November and $20.6 million raised from the sale of some its stake in fantasy sports platform Its operational cash burn was just $64 million in the quarter and $107 million went to capital expenditures, mainly the construction of its next-generation venue, the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas, that is planned to open in 2023.

In New York, where tours were suspended last March, music venues and concert promoters have reason for optimism: On Wednesday, the state announced that arenas with capacities over 10,000 will start to re-open Feb. 23, 2021 — starting with an NBA game at Barclays Center in Brooklyn — with limited capacities and strict safety requirements. MSGE will begin hosting professional basketball games by the end of February. Events require approval by the state’s Department of Health and will be limited to 10% of capacity, a level that’s “very difficult” to make concerts viable, MSGE president Andy Lustgarten said during the earnings call.

Executive chairman and CEO James Dolan said in a statement the state’s actions are “another important step” to “a return to normal operations,” although he was vague enough to prevent investors from setting expectations. After all, promoters are still cancelling events more than announcing them. And while there is certainly a “pent-up demand for live entertainment,” as Dolan said, how and when that demand will be fulfilled is unknown.

A factor in MSGE’s favor is a local footprint that subjects it to fewer regulations and road blocks than a promoter that must route national tours through multiple, uneven state and city restrictions. Then again, such imbalances in entertainment can hurt a regional promoter that relies on artists that conduct national tours — without national touring, the U.S. live music business will be hamstrung.

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