So what should we be focusing on in Blackstone's
Taken as a whole, Blackstone's results fell somewhere between the downright scary numbers that many banks and brokerages like Bank of America
On the top line, Blackstone saw some good momentum. Total revenue from corporate private equity was up 42% from 2006, with big gains from performance fees and investment income. Revenue from marketable alternative asset management -- otherwise known as hedge funds -- jumped 88%, largely from the doubling of management and advisory fees. Not surprisingly, its real estate segment provided some drag on the quarter. Performance fees dropped from $108 million last year to $28 million this year, while total revenue dropped 44%.
Though the bottom line showed red on a GAAP basis, the loss was largely driven by charges taken in conjunction with its recent IPO. In becoming a publicly traded company, Blackstone restructured, awarding significant equity chunks to insiders. The vesting of these equity awards under GAAP rules led to a total of $802.6 million in non-cash charges during the quarter. Backing this out, and using Blackstone's non-GAAP "economic net income," the firm earned $299 million on the bottom line. It's still worth noting, though, that economic net income is down 22% from the third quarter of 2006, because of major jumps in compensation expenses.
Looking out past this quarter, the future is a bit murky. Financing is now tighter, so the massive deals that took place earlier this year are unlikely to make a comeback. This could make it tough for Blackstone to put big chunks of money to work -- and only when money is invested does Blackstone get to collect management fees. However, the financing environment has less effect on the firm's hedge fund and financial advisory businesses, so we could see continued momentum there. In addition, the tougher environment could create opportunities for Blackstone's P/E arm to do some relatively smaller deals at attractive valuations.
For long-term investors, the fog of war obscuring the near term may create an opportunity. Blackstone shares closed down more than 7% yesterday, and are now down more than 40% from their $38 high after the IPO. While we may be past the private-equity jamboree that took place earlier in the year, Blackstone remains one of the very best alternative asset managers out there, and it will likely continue to prove that over time.
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