Blackstone's first-quarter earnings rise 30 percent

NEW YORK, April 17 Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:34am EDT

NEW YORK, April 17 (Reuters) - Blackstone Group LP, the world's largest alternative asset manager, reported a 30 percent rise in first-quarter earnings, driven by strong gains in its private equity arm that more than offset declines in its real estate unit.

Blackstone said on Thursday that economic net income (ENI), a metric of its profitability takes into account the mark-to-market valuation of its portfolio, was $813.9 million in the first quarter versus $628.3 million a year ago.

This translated into ENI per share of 70 cents, more than the 56 cents that analysts forecast on average in a Thomson Reuters poll.

Distributable earnings, which show actual cash that is available to pay dividends, rose 24 percent in the first quarter to $485 million.

Total assets under management reached a record $272 billion as of the end of March, up 25 percent from one year ago. Fee-earning assets under management rose 19 percent to $203.6 billion.

Blackstone declared a quarterly distribution of 35 cents per common unit. (Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York, Editing by Franklin Paul)