KKR & Co. said fourth-quarter profit more than quadrupled as its private equity portfolio gained and it sold its final stake in Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.
The private equity firm’s economic net income, which reflects both unrealized and realized investment gains, was $339.2 million, or 40 cents a share, compared with $70.5 million a year earlier, New York-based KKR said in a statement Thursday. The result matched the average per-share estimate of 13 analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“Operating fundamentals across the firm remain strong, and we are encouraged by our momentum,” co-Chief Executive Officers Henry Kravis and George Roberts said in the statement.
KKR reported results before the start of trading in New York. The stock closed Wednesday at $18.37 and is up 19 percent this year.
KKR in November sold its remaining stake in retailer Walgreens Boots in a $1.8 billion sale of stock. Other large exits during the quarter included the sale of French luxury retailer SMCP Group to China’s Shandong Ruyi Technology Group and the disposition of German cookware and coffee-machine maker WMF to France’s SEB SA.
Distributable earnings, which reflect profits on asset sales and fund management fees, rose to $389.9 million in the quarter from $168.6 million a year earlier. KKR will draw on that pool to pay a dividend of 16 cents a share on March 7.
The firm said it plans to boost its fixed dividend to 17 cents a share starting in the first quarter. It also expanded its share repurchase plan by $250 million, adding to a $500 million program started in October 2015.
First Data Corp., KKR’s largest public holding, continued its rally in the three months ended Dec. 31 by gaining 7.8 percent, after jumping in the third quarter and falling in the first half of the year. The stock slid 11 percent in 2016. KKR -- which bet about $1 billion of its own money on the payment processor from 2007 to 2014, increasing its exposure to the business -- took the company public in 2015, eight years after acquiring it.
KKR said its private equity portfolio appreciated 3.4 percent during the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with a 3.3 percent advance in the S&P 500 index of large U.S. companies. Blackstone Group LP reported a 4.5 percent gain in its portfolio, Apollo Global Management LLC’s jumped 5.9 percent, and Carlyle Group LP’s rose 4 percent.
Publicly traded private equity firms must mark their holdings to the market each quarter, even though their typical strategy is to hold assets for years. That makes economic net income, which in part reflects these unrealized changes in value, merely a snapshot of assets that may have a long runway before being sold.
KKR, led by billionaire cousins Kravis and Roberts, managed $129.6 billion in private equity holdings, credit assets, real estate and hedge funds as of Dec. 31. The firm raised $4.5 billion during the three months and distributed $7.1 billion to clients.
KKR agreed this week to combine its Prisma hedge fund-of-funds unit with Pacific Alternative Asset Management Co., creating an investment firm with about $34 billion in assets. Neither KKR nor Paamco is selling ownership interests in the businesses, and the combination is expected to be completed in the second quarter.