Private equity firm Blackstone Group reports surge in 1Q profit, will pay record dividend

The Blackstone Group L.P. reported a surge in first-quarter profit on increased asset activity, prompting it to announce it would pay shareholders its highest quarterly dividend ever.

The private equity firm earned $629.5 million, or $1.05 per share, up from $265.6 million, or 40 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue jumped 66 percent to $2.5 billion from $1.5 billion.

The company's first-quarter economic net income, which is a key industry measure, was $1.6 billion, or $1.37 per share, up from $814 million, or 70 cents per share, a year earlier. That topped Wall Street expectations, with analysts at FactSet expecting $1.04 per share on revenue of $2.08 billion.

"Realization activity continued to accelerate while, at the same time, we've been raising and investing funds at an unprecedented rate, the basis for future value," said Chairman and CEO Stephen A. Schwarzman.

Total assets under management were up 14 percent from the prior year to $310 billion. The New York-based company declared a quarterly dividend of 89 cents per share, its highest ever.

Shares jumped $1.48, or 3.6 percent, to $42.50 in premarket trading.