January 31, 2013 / 1:50 PM / in 5 years

Blackstone's earnings outshine real estate

NEW YORK, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Blackstone Group LP reported a 43 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, capping what it called its best year as a publicly listed alternative asset manager, despite a lackluster performance by its flagship real estate business.

Blackstone, the first to report fourth-quarter results in a pier group that includes KKR & Co LP, Carlyle Group LP and Apollo Global Management LLC, said earnings rose strongly in its private equity, hedge funds and credit units.

Blackstone, whose investments include The Weather Channel, Pinnacle Foods and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, said economic net income (ENI), a metric of its profitability takes into account the current market valuation of its portfolio, was $670 million, up 43 percent from a year ago.

ENI in its real estate division was down 2 percent to $246 million.

Distributable earnings, which show cash available to pay dividends, jumped 177 percent to $493.8 million.

Total assets under management were $210.2 billion as of the end of December, up from $204.6 billion at the end of the third quarter. Fee-earning assets under management were $167.9 billion at the end of December, down from $168.6 billion at the end of the third quarter.

Blackstone declared a quarterly distribution of 42 cents per common unit. It said it intends to increase its base quarterly distribution to 12 cents per unit in 2013, up from 10 cents per unit.

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