Upbeat Blackstone back in the black

Chairman and CEO Stephen Schwarzman hailed a global ‘healing’ of the equity and debt markets.

The Blackstone Group reported strong results on Thursday, with chairman and chief executive officer Stephen Schwarzman declaring “the worst is behind us”, although the recovery in Western economies could be “gradual and uneven”.

New York-listed Blackstone reported total revenues on an economic net income basis of $1.8 billion for 2009, up significantly from the $442.1 million loss posted for the full year 2008. Fourth quarter revenues were $738.4 million, compared to a $621.4 million loss during the same period of 2008.

Stephen Schwarzman

The improved results were attributed to a combination of appreciating value in the underlying portfolio investments of Blackstone’s private equity and “credit and marketable alternatives” groups, as well as a stabilisation of the group’s real estate portfolio assets. 

Blackstone’s private equity group saw full year revenues recover to $775.2 million from a $286.2 million loss in 2008. During the year two-thirds of Blackstone’s portfolio companies experienced EBITDA growth, while 40 percent grew revenue, the firm said.

An uptick in transactions also bolstered the private equity giant’s numbers. A number of exits, including businesses such as Orangina Scweppes and Stiefel Laboratories, contributed to Blackstone funds returning $1.6 billion to LPs during the year.

“Equity and debt markets globally have continued to heal from their lows about a year ago, although there has been some recent turbulence in January and February, most companies have reduced expenses and inventory levels, the cost of borrowing has declined and the availability of credit is increasing selectively,” said Schwarzman in the earnings statement.

After an initial jump this morning, Blackstone’s share price was $13.96, down approximately 0.4 percent.