Blackstone Group LP, the world’s largest manager of alternative assets, said first-quarter profit fell 77 percent as rocky markets curbed asset sales and new buyouts.

Economic net income, or ENI, a measure of earnings that reflects both realized and unrealized investment gains, dropped to $370.7 million, or 31 cents a share, from $1.62 billion, or $1.37, a year earlier, New York-based Blackstone said in a statement Thursday. Analysts had expected earnings of 40 cents a share, according to the average of 17 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

A year after it notched record results amid buoyant markets, Blackstone, similar to other big private equity firms, rode out a global stock plunge in January and February that hobbled deal making and hurt the value of companies it had taken public and still owned. A market rebound in March allayed some of the damage. The firms mark the value of the investments they hold -- a key determinant of ENI -- in line with the market.

“We are reducing our ENI estimates” for the quarter and for 2016 to reflect “volatility in the public portfolio and lower than previously forecast exit activity,” Jefferies Group analysts led by Dan Fannon said in a note to clients on Blackstone earlier this month.

Blackstone reported earnings before the start of regular trading in New York. The stock closed Wednesday at $29.44, up 3 percent, including reinvested dividends, in 2016.
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The firm said its private equity portfolio appreciated 1.7 percent in the first quarter, compared with 6.4 percent a year ago. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 1.3 percent this year through March, with dividends reinvested.

Its biggest stake, in hotel chain Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., rose by $507 million, or 5.2 percent, despite a 20 percent fall to start the quarter. Other large holdings, including retailer Michaels Cos., drug products maker Catalent Inc. and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., posted gains.

Blackstone pulled off a handful of exits, including selling cleaning services provider GCA Services Group Inc. for $950 million, divesting a minority stake in French real estate company Gecina SA and selling a block of stock in medical equipment maker Zimmer Biomet Holdings Inc.

Its real estate operation struck two massive deals: a $6.5 billion sale of Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc. to China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co., which is expected to close later this year, and an $8 billion buyout of BioMed Realty Trust Inc., completed in January.

Distributable earnings, which reflect cash gains on asset sales, were $388 million, down from $1.24 billion a year earlier. Blackstone said it will pay stockholders a dividend of 28 cents a share on May 9.

With $344 billion in assets, Blackstone is seen as a bellwether for the buyout industry given its size and reach across markets. KKR & Co. and Carlyle Group LP are scheduled to report results next week.