Blackstone Group Beats Analyst Estimates

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Private equity giant Blackstone Group (BX.N) reported a rise in quarterly earnings that beat analysts’ estimates, and said it was seeing concrete signs of improvement in its investment portfolio.

Economic net income was $360 million for the first quarter, compared with a loss of $82 million a year earlier. Adjusted ENI per share was 32 cents. Analysts, on average, had expected 21 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S/.

ENI strips out items such as non-cash charges for vesting equity-based compensation, and the amortization of intangible assets. It is the measure that private equity firms prefer to report and which analysts follow.

“We are seeing concrete signs of economic improvement in our portfolio, and as a result, the carrying value of investments in Blackstone funds rose meaningfully in the first quarter,” CEO Stephen Schwarzman said in a statement.

Blackstone said it would pay a quarterly distribution of 10 cents per unit, or share, lower than the 30 cents a quarter it previously paid, and would change the way it pays dividends. 

Blackstone said that due to the uncertainty of forecasting distributable earnings, the first three quarterly distributions of a year would now be based on anticipated earnings.

“As such, the distributions for the first three quarters will likely be smaller than the final quarterly distribution in respect of such year,” the company said.

Blackstone’s shares, which sold for $31 in its 2007 IPO, rose 1.4 percent to $15.25 in pre-market trading. (Reporting by Megan Davies; Editing by Ted Kerr)