* Q4 post-tax ENI per adjusted share $1.64 vs Street view 91 cents
* Q4 distributable earnings $401 mln vs $188 mln a year ago
* Most profitable quarter since Carlyle went public in 2012
By Greg Roumeliotis
Feb 19 Private equity firm Carlyle Group LP said on Wednesday its fourth-quarter earnings rose by 216 percent to a record, as the value of its funds jumped and profits generated from the sales of assets soared, beating most analysts' forecasts.
Buoyant capital markets not only boosted the value of the companies held by Carlyle's funds but also allowed the Washington, D.C.-based firm to cash out on more of its investments and return money to its investors.
"Our performance exceeded our prior outlook because some of the exit activities that we earlier expected would occur in future periods in fact occurred in 2013," Carlyle co-founder and co-chief executive David Rubenstein told analysts on a conference call.
The value of Carlyle's private equity funds rose by 9 percent in the fourth quarter. Peer Blackstone Group LP reported an 11.5 percent rise in the same quarter, Apollo Global Management LLC reported a 9 percent rise and KKR & Co LP reported an 8.4 percent rise.
Assets sales in the quarter included Carlyle's $1.39 billion sale of aerospace communications company Arinc Inc to Rockwell Collins Inc and the sale of human resources software company Personal & Informatik AG to private equity firm HgCapital, generating returns of 4.5 times and 6.5 times of Carlyle's investors' money respectively.
Carlyle also completed the initial public offerings of luxury jacket maker Moncler SpA, telecommunications equipment maker CommScope Holding Company Inc, travel agency CVC Brasil Operadora & Agencia de Viagens SA and cable operator Numericable Group SA.
It also sold shares in auto parts maker Allison Transmission Holdings Inc, television ratings company Nielsen Holdings NV, BankUnited Inc and consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton Corp, which were already publicly listed.
Economic net income (ENI), an earnings measure comprising cash and paper profits or losses based on how funds have been marked to market, increased to $576 million in the fourth quarter from $182 million a year earlier.
This translated into post-tax adjusted ENI per share of $1.64. Analysts on average expected 91 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. This was the best quarterly financial result for Carlyle since its initial public offering in 2012.
Carlyle shares were up 3.4 percent at $36.68 in early afternoon trading in New York. They had fallen 0.1 percent in the 12 months leading up to Wednesday, compared to a 21 percent rise in the S&P 500 Index.
Carlyle also said the value of seven of its funds rose enough in the fourth quarter for them to exceed return hurdle rates of between 7 and 8 percent. This entitles them to pay out so-called carried interest, giving Carlyle a slice of the investment profits generated by the funds at a time of Carlyle's choosing.
A blot on Carlyle's earnings was its real estate and energy division, which reported a loss as a European real estate fund underperformed and the valuation of some energy funds that Carlyle launched with another private equity firm, Riverstone Holdings LLC, dropped.
Carlyle has ended its partnership with Riverstone and in 2012 took over another energy-focused private equity firm, Natural Gas Partners, for which it has high hopes.
Carlyle also runs credit funds, hedge funds and fund-of-funds products whose divisions also saw profits rise. But private equity continues to dominate the firm's earnings, accounting for 80 percent of its profits in 2013.
Carlyle's pre-tax distributable earnings, which show how much cash is available to pay dividends, were $401 million in the fourth quarter versus $188 million a year earlier, as the firm monetized more of its assets.
Assets under management were $188.8 billion at the end of December, up from $185 billion at the end of September. Carlyle announced in November it had raised a $13 billion U.S. private equity fund, surpassing its $10 billion target.
Rubenstein also said that Carlyle had raised $2 billion from retail investors in 2013 and expressed confidence that the two mutual funds it plans to launch this year will be differentiated enough to succeed in a competitive marketplace.
He declined to comment on competitor KKR's disclosure last week that it would liquidate two funds targeting individual investors, in a blow to the firm's efforts to widen its appeal beyond institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance firms.
Carlyle's fee-related earnings were $39 million in the fourth quarter, down 30 percent from a year earlier.
Carlyle declared a fourth-quarter dividend of $1.40 per share. Dividends for 2013 totaled $1.88 per share, representing 75 percent of Carlyle's after-tax distributable earnings. The firm reaffirmed its dividend policy of paying out 75 to 85 percent of its after-tax distributable earnings in 2014.