Blackstone Falls to New Low as Investors Brace for Another Loss

Bloomberg – Blackstone Group LP, the world’s largest private-equity firm, fell to a record low in New York trading this week on concern that a rebound in leveraged buyouts will lag behind any economic recovery.

“Given the economic outlook and pressure on asset values, even on existing investments, it’s going to be a while before they have a chance to come back,” said Robert Lee, an analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. in New York. “It’s hard for investors to see through that valley.”

After announcing about $169 billion of buyouts in 2006 and 2007, New York-based Blackstone has since completed $9.2 billion of deals. An absence of financing for new acquisitions and an inability to sell current holdings have idled the firm and competitors such as KKR & Co. and Carlyle Group LP. Investors say deal won’t resume until after the economy starts to grow and banks can rebuild capital depleted by losses on mortgage-backed securities and previous LBO loans.

Blackstone, run by Chairman Stephen Schwarzman, probably will report a loss tomorrow of 31 cents a share, its third in the past four quarters, according to the average estimate of seven analysts in a Bloomberg survey. The company had a profit, excluding some costs, of 8 cents a share in the same quarter a year earlier.

Of the nine analysts who rate Blackstone shares, six have ratings equivalent to hold, including Lee. One analyst, Barclays Capital’s Roger Freeman, suggests selling the stock. Two recommend clients buy the shares.

Blackstone dropped below $4 a share for the first time on Feb. 23, closing at $3.89, almost 90 percent less than its $31 initial public offering price in June 2007. The stock declined 17 cents to $4.12 yesterday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

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