Carlyle's fourth-quarter earnings dive 18% on lower asset sales

Feb 5 (Reuters) - U.S. buyout firm Carlyle Group Inc said on Wednesday its fourth-quarter distributable earnings dropped 18% on-year, as lower proceeds from asset sales in its private equity division eclipsed growth in its real asset portfolio.

The Washington, D.C.-based company said its after-tax distributable earnings (DE) - the cash available for paying dividends to shareholders - for the quarter totaled $171.7 million, a drop from $210.5 million a year earlier.

This resulted in an after-tax DE per share of 47 cents, which exceeded average analysts’ forecast of 43 cents, according to data compiled by Refinitiv.

Last week, Blackstone Group Inc and Apollo Global Management Inc reported fourth-quarter earnings that surpassed estimates, but their DE rose on stronger asset sales. KKR & Co Inc also reported better-than-expected earnings despite slower asset sales.

Carlyle’s private equity funds increased by 8% for the 2019 financial year. By comparison, private equity funds of Blackstone appreciated by 9.3%, 15.6% for Apollo and 27% for KKR.

At the end of December, Carlyle said its unspent capital stood at $69 billion, while Blackstone had $151 billion, Apollo had $46 billion, and KKR’s unspent capital totaled $57 billion.

Carlyle’s fourth-quarter total assets under management stood at $224 billion, compared with $221.8 billion reported in the previous quarter. (Reporting by Chibuike Oguh in New York, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)