Feb 21 (Reuters) - Carlyle Group LP said on Thursday fourth-quarter earnings were down 28 percent as the private equity firm failed to beat last year's performance of exiting investments and relied more on company dividends to return money to investors.
Carlyle said economic net income, a measure of profitability that takes into account the mark-to-market valuation of its assets, came in at $182 million, down from $254 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Distributable earnings, Carlyle's favored indicator of profitability that shows cash which has been generated and is available to pay distributions to its shareholders, were down 24 percent to $188 million.
This is because Carlyle took advantage of stronger capital markets to carry out more refinancings of portfolio companies and pay dividends, which resulted in money returned to fund investors but did not generate so-called carried interest -- a cut of the profits for Carlyle.
The Washington, D.C.-based firm capped a very strong year for fundraising, amassing $14 billion in 2012 compared with $6.6 billion in 2012 and bringing its total assets under management to $170.2 billion.
Carlyle, which completed a $671 million initial public offering in May 2012, declared a quarterly distribution of 85 cents per common unit.