BlackRock 4Q profit rises 24 pct, ups dividend

BlackRock 4th-quarter profit climbs 24 percent, raises dividend by 12 percent

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- BlackRock's fourth-quarter net income climbed 24 percent as the value of the assets it managed for its clients grew and performance fees increased. Its performance topped analysts' estimates.

The investment manager also raised its quarterly dividend by 12 percent and said it may buy back more stock. Shares rose in premarket trading Thursday.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, BlackRock Inc. earned $690 million, or $3.93 per share. That's up from $555 million, or $3.05 per share, the year before. Excluding a funding obligation and other one-time items, per-share earnings were $3.96, beating the $3.72 prediction of analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue increased 14 percent to $2.54 billion from $2.23 billion, topping Wall Street's $2.48 billion estimate.

BlackRock's clients include big institutional investors such as pension funds, hedge funds and investment managers, and wealthy individuals. Assets under management, the value of the assets BlackRock invests for its customers, climbed 8 percent to $3.79 trillion. Performance fees rose 63 percent to $239 million.

For all of 2012, the New York company reported net income of $2.46 billion, or $13.79 per share. In the previous year it earned $2.34 billion, or $12.37 per share. Revenue increased 3 percent to $9.34 billion from $9.08 billion.

BlackRock Inc. also announced Thursday that its board boosted its quarterly dividend by 12 percent to $1.68 per share. The dividend will be paid on March 25 to shareholders of record on March 7. The company also said it added 7.5 million shares to its plan for buying back its stock, bringing the program to 10.2 million shares. Buying back stock can help increase earnings per share.

Shares rose $7.25, or 3.3 percent, to $229.50 in premarket trading Thursday. The stock closed Wednesday at $222.24, up 19 percent over the past 12 months.

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