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KKR Financial's 1Q earnings rise 4 percent

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Specialty finance company KKR Financial Holdings LLC said Wednesday that its first-quarter net income rose 4 percent as its costs and expenses fell sharply.

The San Francisco-based KKR reported earnings after paying preferred share distributions of $91.6 million, or 46 cents per share, in the three months ended March 31.

That compares with earnings of $88 million, or 48 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. An increase in the number of outstanding shares shaved 4 cents off the per-share results for the recent quarter.

The results nevertheless came in well above the 35 cents per share that Wall Street analysts expected, according to research firm FactSet.

Total revenue rose 2 percent to $140.5 million from $137.9 million in the first quarter. That's above the $138.6 million in revenue that Wall Street expected.

Total costs and expenses fell 25 percent to $81 million in the first quarter from $107.8 million in 2012 period, mainly due to setting aside far less to cover bad loans. That was partly offset by higher costs related to its oil and gas investments, which grew through acquisitions over the past 12 months.

During the quarter, the company said it reduced high-yield debt 12 percent to $332.5 million. It also invested in four new commercial real estate projects during the quarter, bringing its total commercial real estate investments to seven.

KKR Financial's board of directors declared a cash distribution of 21 cents per common share, payable May 28 to shareholders of record as of May 14.

KKR Financial Holdings is a unit of investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P.

Shares of the company rose 1 cent to $10.70 in morning trading Wednesday.