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Live industry buoyed by COVID-19 vaccine news

Live events operators, including Live Nation and CTS Eventim, have seen share prices soar following the news that a COVID-19 vaccine was found to be 90 per cent effective.

Just 30 minutes after pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer announced the positive progress of its vaccine trial results on Monday, Ticketmaster owner Live Nation was up 20.8 per cent to $67.73, Madison Square Garden Entertainment was up 21.4 per cent to $84.44 and German concert promoter Eventim was up 23.5 per cent to $51.90. German live entertainment group DEAG’s share price also grew by double digits.

The vaccine, developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech, showed no serious side effects in a trial of 43,538 participants in six countries. It is one of 11 vaccines that are currently in the final stages of testing.

Live entertainment companies have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted live events almost overnight. The future has looked bleak for the sector, which hit record lows following the March shutdown, but news of the vaccine has helped push these companies’ share prices multiples above their pandemic low marks.

Cinemas, which have also been hit hard by the pandemic, saw their share prices skyrocket on Monday following the news. Struggling theatre chain AMC Theatres saw its stock rise 51.4 per cent, while Cineworld shares jumped 40.25 per cent and Cinemark jumped 45.12 per cent. However, the share prices remain a fraction of what they were before the pandemic hit.

“If the vaccine news is on track, that’s very exciting and is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a long tunnel and many of our companies are barely breathing air right now in terms of their liquidity,” said John Fithian, chief executive of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).

Pfizer and BioNTech plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month and the UK has already ordered 40 million doses, while the US has ordered 100 million doses.

However, limited availability of the vaccine and specific logistical issues will mean fans will not return to live events immediately. Pfizer currently projects it will produce up to 50 million vaccine doses globally by the end of 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, UK health secretary Matt Hancock said it is “absolutely a possibility” that the vaccine would become available before Christmas but he expects a mass roll-out “in the first part of next year”.

Image: Martin Fisch / CC BY 2.0 / Edited for size