Blackstone third-quarter profit up on strong fund performance

NEW YORK, Thu Oct 18, 2012 – Blackstone Group LP, the largest publicly listed alternative asset manager, said on Thursday third-quarter were its third best since going public in 2007 as its funds appreciated in value and performance fees soared.

Blackstone reported that third-quarter economic net income, a measure of its profitability using the mark-to-market valuation of its portfolio, rose to 55 cents per share from a loss of 34 cents per share a year earlier.

Blackstone, which has investments in The Weather Channel, Pinnacle Foods and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, said distributable earnings, reflecting actual cash available to pay dividends, rose to $189.6 million from $125.7 million a year ago.

Assets under management totaled $205 billion at the end of September, up 30 percent from a year earlier.

Blackstone declared a quarterly distribution of 10 cents per common unit.

U.S. March personal incomes rise, consumers save more

WASHINGTON, Mon Apr 30, 2012 – U.S. household income rose in March by the most in three months but consumers socked away part of the extra cash and only modestly increased spending, suggesting economic growth ended the first quarter on a soft note.

The Commerce Department said on Monday consumer income rose 0.4 percent last month. Analysts had expected a gain of 0.3 percent. After-tax income climbed 0.2 percent in March when accounting for higher prices.

Consumer spending rose 0.3 percent last month, also just below the median forecast in a Reuters poll of 0.4 percent.

When taking into account inflation, which has been fed in recent months by higher gasoline prices, spending was up 0.1 percent.

“The spending number is an indication that the higher gas prices we saw last month are taking their toll,” said Todd Schoenberger, managing principal at the Black Bay Group in New York.

U.S. economic growth cooled in the first quarter as businesses cut back on investment and restocked shelves at a slower pace. The economy grew at an annualized pace of 2.2 percent in the first three months of the year, data on Friday showed, a slowdown from the fourth quarter’s 3.0 percent rate.

Stronger consumer spending over the entire quarter cushioned the blow, but Monday’s data suggested consumers ended the quarter spending less freely.

With consumption rising less quickly than income, the saving rate edged higher to 3.8 percent.

Prices for U.S. government debt held steady at higher levels, while U.S. stock index futures were slightly lo

Citigroup quarterly profit falls; net income down 4¢ a share

NEW YORK, Mon Apr 16, 2012 – Citigroup Inc. reported lower first-quarter profit on Monday as the bank worked to contain expenses in the face of volatile capital markets.

The New York-based lender said net income was $2.93 billion, or 95 cents a share, compared with $2.99 billion, or 99 cents a share, a year earlier.

Earnings per share were $1.11 excluding the impact of accounting adjustments for changes in the value of the bank’s debt and that of its counterparties.

Revenue from its ongoing securities trading and investment banking declined 12 percent from the strong quarter a year earlier, but rose 65 percent from the weak 2011 fourth quarter.

“While the operating environment improved in the first quarter, there is still much macro uncertainty and we will continue to manage risk carefully,” CEO Vikram Pandit said in a statement issued by the company.

Citi shares were up 59 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $34 in premarket trading.

Facebook doubles first-half revenue, according to source

SAN FRANCISCO ― Facebook’s revenue doubled to $1.6 billion in 2011’s first half, a source with knowledge of its financials told Reuters, underscoring its appeal to advertisers while it grapples with intensifying competition from the likes of Google Inc.

Net income in the first half of 2011 came to almost $500 million, according to the source, who wished to remain anonymous because privately-held Facebook does not disclose its results.

Facebook’s stronger results come as investors have pushed its valuation to roughly $80 billion in private markets, with many industry observers expecting the world’s No. 1 Internet social network to go public in 2012.

Its growing popularity among its advertisers and 750 million users has pressured entrenched Web companies such as Yahoo Inc, which ousted its chief executive Carol Bartz on Tuesday.

Search leader Google Inc launched Google+, a rival social network in June that attracted more than 10 million users in its first two weeks. Google is trying to increase the appeal of its social network by offering games such as Zynga Poker and Rovio’s Angry Birds.

Some venture capitalists and industry experts see early signs that Google+ is headed down the right path in taking a bite out of Facebook.

Facebook earned $355 million in net income in the first nine months of 2010 on revenue of $1.2 billion, according to documents that Goldman Sachs provided to clients during a share offering this year.

The source did not provide figures for a direct comparison for the first half 2011 figures.

Created by CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a Harvard dorm room in 2004, the company is expected to introduce new features this month such as music services from Spotify and Rhapsody, according to people familiar with the plans.

Facebook has become one of the Web’s most visited destinations by people who spend hours on the site every month sharing photos and videos, and conversing with friends.

Facebook accounted for nearly one third of all Internet display advertisement impressions in the United States in June, more than the combined total of Yahoo, Microsoft Corp, Google and AOL Inc, according to analytics firm comScore.

It was not clear what portion of Facebook’s $1.6 billion in revenue in the first half of the year came from advertising sales. Facebook also gets a 30 percent cut of sales of virtual goods, such as digital cars or animals, that enhance the experience in social games such as Zynga’s FarmVille.

In January, Facebook said it had raised $1.5 billion from investors including Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky Technologies, as well as through a private offering to overseas investors conducted by Goldman Sachs, at a valuation of roughly $50 billion.

Facebook declined to comment on its financial results.