Fortress First-Quarter Profit Rises 75% on Fee Income

Fortress Investment Group LLC (FIG), the first publicly traded private-equity and hedge-fund manager in the U.S., said first-quarter profit rose 75 percent because of higher fees paid to the firm for managing its funds.

Pretax distributable earnings, which exclude some compensation costs and other items, increased to $100 million, or 20 cents a share, from $57 million, or 11 cents, a year earlier, New York-based Fortress said today in a statement. Analysts had expected profit of 15 cents a share, according to the average of seven estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

A 6 percent gain in global stocks during the first three months of the year lifted the value of fund holdings and boosted the fees for overseeing them. Fortress’s macro hedge fund, which invests across products and geographies, returned 3.8 percent in the first quarter, and its Asia macro fund gained 2.8 percent, the firm said in a regulatory filing last month. Global hedge funds increased 1.4 percent on average, according to the Bloomberg Active Indexes for Funds.

Fortress is being led by co-founder Randal Nardone after former Chief Executive Officer Daniel Mudd resigned last year amid a government lawsuit stemming from his tenure as chief of mortgage financing company Fannie Mae.

“Investment performance, the most fundamental driver of our long-term success, has been strong in each of our businesses,” Nardone said in the statement.

Shares of Fortress gained 49 percent this year, closing at $6.53 yesterday in New York. The stock is down 65 percent since the company’s 2007 initial public offering, when it sold shares at $18.50 apiece to become the first U.S.-listed buyout and hedge-fund manager. Blackstone (BX) Group LP, which followed four months later, has lost 34 percent of its value.

GAAP Results

Fortress’s distributable earnings differ from U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. Under those rules, the company’s net income attributable to Class A shareholders was $14.3 million, or 5 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $29.5 million, or 16 cents, a year ago.

Blackstone, the world’s biggest private-equity firm by assets, last month reported its net income rose to $168 million from $58 million a year earlier. KKR & Co. (KKR) reported first- quarter profit that increased to $193 million from $190 million a year earlier as strong performance in its buyout holdings boosted earnings. Both firms are based in New York.

Private-equity firms pool money from investors including pension plans and endowments with a mandate to buy companies within about five to six years, then sell them and return the funds with a profit after about 10 years. The firms, which use debt to finance the deals and amplify returns, typically charge an annual management fee equal to 1.5 percent to 2 percent of committed funds and keep 20 percent of profit from investments.

Robert Kauffman, one of three Fortress co-founders with Nardone and Wesley Edens, retired in December after 15 years at the firm. Kauffman’s decision was partly in response to higher tax rates on top earners that took effect at the beginning of the year, he said in an interview at the time. He most recently oversaw the company’s long-only fixed-income business, called Logan Circle Partners.

To contact the reporter on this story: Devin Banerjee in New York at dbanerjee2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christian Baumgaertel at cbaumgaertel@bloomberg.net

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