Blackstone Group beats estimates

The Blackstone Group reported a rise in quarterly earnings that beat analysts’ estimates, and said it was seeing concrete signs of improvement in its investment portfolio.

Economic net income was $360 million for the first quarter, compared with a loss of $82 million a year earlier.

“We are seeing concrete signs of economic improvement in our portfolio, and as a result, the carrying value of investments in Blackstone funds rose meaningfully in the first quarter,” CEO Stephen Schwarzman said in a statement.

In a media call, Blackstone President Tony James said that fund-raising is heating up.

“We’re seeing investors recommitting to alternatives,” he said. “A large percentage of investors are increasing allocations to alternatives. We’re not aware of any investors cutting back their allocations to alternatives. It’s going to get healthy again because, if you look at the investors’ return assumptions of 8.5%, those aren’t achievable if they don’t increase allocations to higher-yielding asset classes like alternatives.” —Erin Griffith and Megan Davies, Reuters