“Success is stumbling from failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Four years ago, Keith, myself and Todd Jordan, our Managing Director of our Gaming, Lodging & Leisure team, embarked on a journey in which many people predicted we had little chance of succeeding at. With the support of our colleagues at Hedgeye, we entered the process to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes, a bankrupt NHL franchise. Our proposal to purchase the team was seemingly received well (as you might imagine Keith played the lead role in that meeting!) and enabled us to become the key contender to own the team.
Our analysis of the situation in Phoenix was vintage Hedgeye. We started with a macro perspective that it was likely the ideal time to buy a distressed asset in the Phoenix region as housing was literally in free fall. Our view was that housing would ultimately revert to the mean, and thus home prices would see a strong recovery, which would then drive discretionary spending on things like sporting tickets. In the Chart of the Day, we show the improvement in home prices in Phoenix since that period.
We then took a hard look at the financials of the team (hat tip to our colleague Anna Massion for some good work here), we found a business that was bloated on the cost side with some easy pro-forma cost reductions. On the revenue side, we developed a plan for steady revenue growth with the unique idea of playing five games in another market (think the Buffalo Bills playing in Toronto). Even though we came to agreement with the NHL on the parameters of a purchase via a letter of intent, the deal ultimately fell through as we were unable to agree to terms on an arena lease.
At that point, we chalked it up as a loss, but a win on the learning side, and watched over the last couple of years as various other groups attempted, yet failed, to purchase the franchise. With the advent of the new collective bargaining agreement in 2013, which from our view created a very compelling economic situation for smaller market NHL teams, we decided to revisit the opportunity, almost three and half years after first looking at the team.
Over the course of the last few months, we and our partner Anthony LeBlanc were able to put together a very intriguing financing package with a major hedge fund as the lender. With Anthony’s guidance, an arena lease was negotiated that exemplifies a true public / private partnership. And finally we found a lead equity investor in my friend George Gosbee from Calgary, who is now the Governor of the franchise, and closed the transaction earlier this week.
For Hedgeye and our partners, the deal was a true lesson in perseverance and teamwork. Quitting at any point would have been easy, but ultimately we persevered and put the puck in the net. While we are quite excited about the prospects for NHL hockey in Phoenix, I will ease the minds of any NHL hockey fans out there . . . despite owning a small piece of the team, you can be rest assured Keith and I won’t be getting on the ice any time soon!
Switching back to the global macro grind, we have a slew of data out this morning. It was a big macro day in China, in particular with Chinese CPI coming in at +2.7%, PPI declining for the 17th straight month down -2.3% y-o-y, and retail sales up a solid +13.2% y-o-y. That last data point continues to be supportive of our view that Chinese GDP is in a phase transition from an export led economy with a focus on infrastructure build out, to a consumption driven economy, with a lower aggregate growth rate.
This Sunday we will be getting preliminary GDP numbers from Japan and this will undoubtedly be the focus of many global macro investors. The main event in global macro this year has clearly been the rapid decline and volatility of the Yen. In turn, this has supported strength in the U.S. dollar, which has implications across asset classes with varying degrees of correlations.
We have a lot of things at Hedgeye, but a crystal ball is not one of them, so we aren’t going to attempt to tell you where the number will come in. That said, we continue to have conviction that regardless of any short term data, the Japanese will have to continue to stimulate, and aggressively so, in order to get anywhere in the zip code of their long run inflation target of 2% and nominal growth of 3%. To get to these targets, the Japanese policy makers will require a whole lot of “Control P” (printing), which makes the long run bear case on the yen very compelling.
Back in the U.S., the ferocious bear raid in U.S. equities (to quote my colleague Christian Drake) took its toll with a cumulative decline of 71 basis points over the last four days (#SarcasmAlert). We’ve been harping on this all year, but as the U.S. economy continues to transition from stabilizing to accelerating with labor and confidence hitting levels not seen since 2007, U.S. equities will continue to find a bid on any sell off.
The longer term supporting bid in U.S. equities is, of course, the theme that our financials team has been focused with their recent launch on asset managers, which is the current, and we expect continued, outflows from fixed income assets as interest rates grind higher. This will only accelerate if U.S. economic data continues to come in strong.
Our immediate-term Risk Ranges are now as follows:
UST 10yr Yield 2.57-2.73%
Have a great weekend with your friends and families!
Keep your head up and stick on the ice,
Daryl G. Jones
- LINE, LNCO remains a “Best Idea” short for us. Poor 2Q13 results strengthen our conviction in that call.
- No material update on the ongoing SEC inquiry or the pending BRY merger;
- Production, adjusted EBITDA, DCF all miss guidance, and it would have been worse if not for some low quality earnings;
- Total capital capex surprised to the upside, and the gap between total capex and maintenance capex grows wider, despite no production growth;
- 2H13 guidance for production, adjusted EBITDA, DCF all cut;
- 2H13 guidance assumes strong NGL prices and realizations – that optimism seems misplaced.
Mum is the word on SEC inquiry and BRY merger…..No real direction on the SEC inquiry or the BRY merger in the conference call or in the new 10-Q or S-4/A. There is no longer a guided closing period for the merger in the S-4/A, and there are several new risk factors to the merger. We find it strange that LINN said yesterday morning (8/8) that its S-4/A would be filed with the SEC yesterday “afternoon” (8/8), though it wasn’t filed until early this morning (8/9). Why the delay? We don't know, but we find it odd... We highlight some key changes and additions to the risk factors and disclosures in the 10-Q and new S-4 in the appendix of this note.
On the 2Q13 results……Hard to find positives here. Production of 780 MMcfe/d was at the low end of guidance, 780 - 820 MMcfe/d, and down 2% QoQ. Adjusted EBITDA of $378MM missed guidance by 4% and DCF missed guidance by 10%. Distribution coverage was 0.89x vs. guidance of 1.00x. And the results were low quality, as other revenues, natural gas marketing margin, and an anomalous drop in taxes other than income increased DCF by $15 – 20MM. Further, premiums paid on settled derivatives in the period were $43MM. Excluding those costs boosted DCF by 28%. Backing out premiums paid and other special items, we arrive at our own non-GAAP numbers: EPU of $0.05, FCF/unit of -$0.44, CF/unit of $1.01, and Open EBITDA of $310MM.
On downward revisions to 2H12 guidance……LINN cut 2H12 production guidance (from the April 25th guidance) by 2%, oil production guidance by 4%, adjusted EBITDA by 6%, and DCF by 15%. Distribution coverage drops to 0.90x from the prior guidance of 1.06x. We note the $22.5MM increase to 2H13 non-GAAP (cash) G&A guidance. On page 50 of the 10-Q we read, “Our legal expenses incurred in defending the lawsuits and responding to the SEC inquiry have been significant and we expect them to continue to be significant in the future.” I guess LINN’s lawyers don’t take unit-based comp?
Total capital expenditures surprise to upside……Total capital expenditures in 2Q13 were $338MM (development capital + purchases of other PP&E + joint venture funding, per the cash flow statement), up from $277MM in 1Q13. We consider this QoQ increase of $66MM a large surprise to the upside, especially considering the 1% drop in production QoQ. Further, CEO Mark Ellis answered this question incorrectly on the conference call:
Analyst: “And just last one for me, and I’m sorry if I may have missed this, but how much total CapEx was spent this quarter?”
CEO Mark Ellis: “I don’t have that number off the top of my head, hang on one sec.” [15 second delay] “$260 million.”
The 10-Q (which we did not have when Mr. Ellis made this statement) plainly states on page 22 that for 2Q13, “capital expenditures, excluding acquisitions, of approximately $334 million” ($4MM delta between that and the CF statement is an accrual issue). Mr. Ellis’ answer on the call was materially incorrect.
Total capex vs. maintenance capex vs. production growth……In 2Q13, total capex including JV funding exceeded maintenance capex by $226MM, with pro forma production down 1% QoQ. Over the TTM, total capex including JV funding has exceeded maintenance capex by $875MM ($219MM/quarter!) with no organic production growth to speak of. In fact, by our estimates, pro forma organic production in 2Q13 was down 5% from the 3Q12 average. We believe that LINN’s maintenance capex is massively understated; if it was at an appropriate level, all of DCF would be wiped out.
Understated maintenance capex is not a TX Hogshooter problem……LINN’s comments on the 2Q13 call suggest that the explanation for the delta between total capex and maintenance capex, +$200MM/quarter, coupled with production flat-to-down, is largely because of its disappointing TX Hogshooter program in 2012 and 1Q13. LINN drilled 28 gross Hogshooter wells on the TX side of the border; management noted that 14 of those wells underperformed expectations. LINN stated on the 1Q13 conference call that its working interest in those wells was 60% on average, so 8.4 net wells underperformed. At $8.5MM/well, that is $71MM of capital that underperformed. Spreading that out of 5 quarters, gets us to $14MM/quarter, or ~6% of the difference between total capex and maintenance capex. This is not a TX Hogshooter issue, and the issue is not going away.
NGL price optimism is misplaced……LINN’s realized NGL price in 2Q13 was $26.69/bbl, which was 70% of the Mont Belvieu benchmark NGL price in the quarter, $38.00/bbl. LINN’s guidance for 2H13 NGL price is $33.00/bbl, suggesting a material improvement in realized NGL prices. As we show in the two charts below, that optimism seems misplaced. Ethane – particularly Jonah Field ethane that is priced at Conway – is at rejection levels, as it has been for more than a year. And the NGL barrel price at Mont Belvieu today is at $39.00/bbl, only $1/bbl higher than the 2Q13 average. In our view, current NGL prices suggest a realized NGL price for LINN in 2H13 around $27 - $28/bbl. As LINN will produce ~5.0 MMbbls of NGLs in 2H13, LINN could be guiding DCF $25MM - $30MM ($0.11 - $0.13/unit) too high. Recall that LINN does not have NGL hedges.
Peculiar drop in taxes other than income……Taxes other than income taxes (production taxes) in 2Q13 were $32.3MM, 6.6% of revenues, and $0.46/Mcfe; that was 26% below guidance of $44MM. It is an also an outlier relative to prior periods (in 2012 production taxes were 8.2% of revenues and $0.54/Mcfe, and in 1Q13 production taxes were 8.6% of revenues and $0.55/Mcfe) and forward guidance (3Q13 guidance is for production taxes to jump back up to $48MM, or $0.64/boe). This could be the one-time item: “Ad valorem taxes, which are based on the value of reserves and production equipment and vary by location, decreased by approximately $2 million compared to the three months ended June 30, 2012, primarily due to an adjustment related to the properties acquired in the Green River Basin region partially offset by taxes associated with property acquisitions in 2012 and higher rates on the Company’s base properties” (2Q13 10-Q, page 28).
Peculiar increase in other revenues and natural gas marketing margin……Other revenues and natural gas marketing margin came in at $14.5MM in 2Q13, up $7MM QoQ and $7MM (94%) ahead of guidance. Another low quality source of DCF in the quarter.
LINN ramps up in the Jonah, likes the OK Hogshooter, has high hopes for HZ Wolfcamp……LINN plans to ramp up drilling activity in the Jonah Field in 2H13, and that will drive the back half production growth. The fact that they are ramping back up in this gas/NGL play now says a lot about the asset base on the whole. Seems like a desperate attempt at production growth – and not returns – to us…….LINN was quite bullish on the OK Hogshooter on the call, but we wonder if that’s optimism is justified. The Company has drilled only 9 gross (~4 net) wells, will not give us a 30d rate, but did say that the wells have an 80 – 85% initial decline (which is quite high, in our view). We thinks its a bit early to sing the praises of this play……LINN also noted that it has Permian acreage prospective for the HZ Wolfcamp; it will participate in four non-op wells “with a pretty small working interest” and drill one operated well in 2H13. No well results expected before 1Q14. We don't consider it material to the stock at this time.
APPENDIX: New disclosures worth reading…..
On BRY merger risk, 10-Q page 50: “Due to the pending SEC inquiry, the timing of LinnCo’s pending merger with Berry is uncertain. If the merger is not completed, or there are delays in completing the merger, our unit price and our business could be adversely affected and we would be subject to a number of risks…”
On premiums paid, 10-Q page 42: “The premiums paid for put options that settled during the three months ended June 30, 2013, and June 30, 2012, and during the six months ended June 30, 2013, and June 30, 2012, were approximately $43 million, $36 million, $86 million and $62 million, respectively. Deducting the premiums paid for put options would reduce the Company’s adjusted EBITDA and DCF; however, the Company pays cash for put options at the time of execution and no additional amounts are payable in the future under the contracts. Therefore, the Company’s calculation of adjusted EBITDA and DCF is more representative of the cash available for distribution during the period. The Company considers the cost of premiums paid for put options as an investment related to its underlying oil and natural gas properties only for the purpose of calculating the non-GAAP financial measures of adjusted EBITDA and DCF.”
On maintenance capex, 10-Q page 43 (our emphasis): “Maintenance capital expenditures, a component of total capital expenditures, is a non-GAAP calculation established at the beginning of each calendar year that represents the estimated capital investment required to approximately maintain production levels from the prior year and replace proved developed producing reserves that are forecasted to be produced as a result of maintaining production levels from the prior year. Management makes estimates of maintenance capital expenditures as part of the annual budget process, ranks the most efficient projects by production replacement and proved developed producing reserves replacement and allocates the total planned expenditures across the four quarters of each calendar year. While the Company believes its estimates and assumptions to be reasonable under the circumstances, they are subject to, among other things, risks and uncertainties including production rates, reserve quantities and capital costs estimates. At the end of each calendar year, the Company evaluates the performance of its annual capital program, re-ranks its most efficient projects and incorporates the results of this analysis in its subsequent calendar year estimated maintenance capital expenditures. The calculation includes the cost to convert nonproducing reserves to producing status and does not include the initial cost to acquire the underlying asset as that amount has already been spent in a prior period and therefore does not impact the ability to make distributions in future periods.”
On maintenance capex, 10-Q page 50: “ If we underestimate the appropriate level of estimated maintenance capital expenditures or the estimated maintenance capital expenditures do not produce the expected results, we may have less cash available for distribution in future periods when adjustments from the previous year are included in future estimates. Over time, if we do not set aside sufficient cash reserves or have available sufficient sources of financing and make sufficient expenditures to maintain our asset base, we may be unable to pay distributions at the anticipated level and could be required to reduce our distributions.”
On NGLs, 10-Q page 49: “We have been and continue to be limited in our ability to effectively hedge our NGL production. As a result, we are subject to the current depressed price environment for NGLs, and in particular, ethane prices. If current price levels for NGLs continue into the future, our revenues and results of operations will be affected, which could result in distributable cash flow that is insufficient to maintain our current distribution to unitholders.”
On put options, 10-Q page 46: “In certain historical periods, the Company paid an incremental premium to increase the fixed price floors on existing put options because the Company typically hedges multiple years in advance and in some cases commodity prices had increased significantly beyond the initial hedge prices. As a result, the Company determined that the existing put option strike prices did not provide reasonable downside protection in the context of the current market.”
On merger tax implications, S-4/A page 179 (our emphasis): “As a result of the anticipated increase in tax liability due to the remedial allocation, LINN has agreed to pay LinnCo $6 million per year for three years (2013, 2014 and 2015). The $18 million to be paid during this period is expected to compensate LinnCo for a portion of the increase in its total tax liability with respect to the assets acquired in the Contribution, and is not intended to fully compensate LinnCo for the increased total tax liability. The total tax liability generated from the remedial allocation will be recognized over the remaining life of the underlying assets, which could extend beyond 50 years. The total deferred income tax liability impact from the transactions is estimated to be approximately $452 million (included in the total approximate $477 million deferred income tax liability shown on the pro forma condensed combined balance sheet). This tax liability will be partially deferred when considering the tax shield that LinnCo receives with respect to the LINN units it currently owns. If LinnCo were to sell or otherwise liquidate the LINN units acquired, the deferred tax liability of $477 million would be payable. The tax shield and other factors were considered by the conflicts committees of both LINN and LinnCo in negotiating the compensation to be paid by LINN to LinnCo for LinnCo’s tax liability.
“Under the Contribution Agreement, LINN and LinnCo have agreed (i) to work in good faith at the end of each of calendar year 2014 and 2015 to evaluate whether the amount distributed to LinnCo as discussed above has reasonably compensated LinnCo for the actual increase in tax liability to LinnCo, if any, resulting from the allocation of amortization, depletion, depreciation and other cost recovery deductions using the “remedial allocation method” pursuant to Treasury Regulations Section 1.704-3(d), with respect to the assets acquired in the Contribution and (ii) to make any adjustment to such distribution as mutually agreed. The total tax benefit that LINN expects to realize from this transaction, undiscounted, is approximately $1.4 billion (purchase price times 38%) of additional depreciation, depletion and amortization that will be recognized on a unit-of-production basis over the remaining life of the property. Based on its pro forma ownership percentage, approximately one third of the approximate $1.4 billion total undiscounted tax benefit will be allocated to LinnCo.”
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This note was originally published at 8am on July 26, 2013 for Hedgeye subscribers.
“Forces might make it easy for group-based processes to turn collaborations into cheating opportunities.”
There’s some serious irony that I’m finishing up my behavioral economics review of Dan Ariely’s The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty while our profession gets its reputation tarred and feathered by the fun cops.
I call it our profession, because it is. We are all responsible for self-policing this Street. For too long we have allowed our compensation structures to cloud our definition of grey. Leadership principles are black and white. It’s time to champion transparency and accountability.
No, it’s not easy to write about this. I think we all have former friends who have lied to us. Accepting that isn’t easy either. Social groups affect us in many ways that we are too human to understand.
Ariely reminds us that “when cheaters are part of our social group, we identify with that person and, as a consequence, feel that cheating is more socially acceptable. But when the person cheating is an outsider, it is harder to justify the misbehavior, and we become more ethical in our desire to distance ourselves from that immoral person and from that other out-group.”
“… results show how crucial other people are in defining acceptable boundaries for our own behavior, including cheating. As long as we see other members of our own social groups behaving in ways that are outside the acceptable range, it’s likely that we too will recalibrate our own internal moral compass and adopt their behavior…” (pages 206-207).
Leadership isn’t how much money you make; it’s your opportunity to make a difference.
Back to the Global Macro Grind…
The Russell 2000 clocked another all-time closing high yesterday of 1054 (+24.1% YTD) as mostly every growth stock that beats toned down expectations rips to new YTD highs. Slow growth investor T-Bonds were down (again). This remains a growth investor’s market.
Growth, growth, growth – if you can find it, buy it – that’s not just a progressive message that stands in stark contrast to the fear-mongering one that is getting pummeled (VIX -29% YTD), it’s a good way to live your life. In order to grow, you need to embrace change.
What’s interesting about being long growth is that not all “growth” investors have actually agreed with it, yet. That said, it’s important to remember that we’re all storytellers – and the market doesn’t care about our own individual versions of the story.
Here’s the non-fictional account of what we call growth “Style Factors” for 2013 YTD:
- Top 25% EPS Growth Stocks (SP500) = +23.8% YTD
- Low Dividend Yield (growth) Stocks = +26.4% YTD
- High Short Interest Stocks = +22.6% YTD
In other words, if you are long high-beta stocks that A) look “expensive” B) have high short interest and C) deliver better than “expected” growth results – boom! Non-cheater alpha is yours to keep.
Not only are non-obvious growth Style Factors beating the SP500’s YTD return of +18.5%, so is growth as a sector-style within the SP500:
- Consumer Discretionary Sector ETF (XLY) = +25.1% YTD
- Utilities Sector ETF (XLU) = +12.3% YTD
That’s a massive (and widening) performance spread that looks a lot like being long US Stocks vs US Treasury Bonds.
And there’s more alpha where that came from. Whether it was Visa (V), Facebook (FB), or long-time Hedgeye favorite Starbucks (SBUX) this week, Mr. Market is telling you that you don’t need to cheat to win in this business. You need to pay up for the growth that you can find.
While this doesn’t always make sense to people until they make the amount of mistakes I have, the other side of being long this growth rip is shorting “value” stocks that look “cheap” (if you use the wrong numbers).
So all in, what we have here is an opportunity to separate the pretenders from the pros. This is the new old school - roll up your sleeves and do your own work. No need for insider information. Just have the confidence and humility to let Mr. Market tell you all you need to know.
Math is our edge. It’s black and white. The opportunity to capitalize on leadership principles and a repeatable process has never been so bright.
Our immediate-term Risk Ranges are now:
10yr Yield 2.47-2.65%
Best of luck out there today and enjoy your weekend,
Keith R. McCullough
Chief Executive Officer
The big move in Japan this week definitely caught me off guard.
Now the question becomes: Are we are past the maximum, short-term "Yen short/Nikkei long" pain? At 96.16, Yen (vs USD) is 3.1 standard deviations oversold in my model. No, that doesn’t happen very often.
Meanwhile, the Nikkei is holding TREND support of 13,445. So yes, I am tempted to buy back the DXJ on that. Waiting on the signal.
(Editor's note: This post is a brief excerpt from Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough's morning research. For more information on how you can sign up and start harnessing the Hedgeye team's award-winning, proprietary research, please click here.)
Takeaway: We continue to expect accelerating growth in US Births in 2Q13/3Q13, but softness in 4Q13/1Q14. Long-term Recovery Thesis remain intact
This note was originally published July 17, 2013 at 15:36 in Healthcare
NEAR-TERM FORECAST: GROWTH ACCELERATING 2Q13/3Q13
We recently updated our birth regression model for 2Q13 and 3Q13. Our model continues to call for accelerating growth in the near-term given the trajectory of the underlying factors that drive our model. Below we discuss the drivers of that forecast as well as recent developments related to our thesis
- Women’s employment (20-34 YOA) ACCELERATING: One of our better leading indicators. Growth has accelerated through most of 2012 and suggests accelerating growth through 3Q13
- PKI Human Health Organic Growth ACCELERATING: Product portfolio focuses primarily prenatal and neonatal testing, and has been a strong lead for US Births. Calling for continued growth through 2Q13.
- Household Formation NEUTRAL: Complements of our Financials Team, has been a good coincident read on birth trends. Although improving sequentially in 2Q13, the 2-yr average (the better read) calls for a slowdown in 2Q13
- Home Prices ACCELERATING: The implication here is rising prices are a signal for growing demand for housing. Has been a surprisingly strong read into US Births. Current trajectory suggests improvement into 2Q13
- DEST 2Q13 SS Sales ACCELERATING: Decent overlay with US Births. Preannounced accelerating SS sales growth for 2Q13 (the highest the company has seen since 2006), suggesting accelerating growth for 2Q13
- HCA/THC 2Q13 Admission Trends NEUTRAL/ACCELERATING: Both companies SS admissions trends are pointing to steady to moderately improving trends in 2Q13. Note US births represent 25% of hospital inpatient volumes
- Hedgeye OB/GYN Survey (July 2013) DECLINING: Our survey asked respondents about the y/y trend in June, which we created an index off of (base 50). The data suggests both births and pregnancies declined in June. We will be running the survey again in August.
- CSFB Survey NEUTRAL: Anecdotal callout from a competitor’s survey, suggests births were flat y/y in 2Q13.
INTERMEDIATE FORECAST: GROWTH SPUTTERING 4Q13/1Q14
We do not have as strong a read longer-terms since many of the macro factors we track are coincident indicators. Our two longer-term reads our Women’s Employment and PKI Human Health, which point to slowing, potentially negative trend in 4Q13/1Q13
- Women’s employment (20-34 YOA) DECELERATING: Suggests a moderating, but positive trend for births into 4Q13/1Q14
- PKI Human Health Organic Growth DECELERATING: Suggests moderating, if not negative, growth in 3Q13/4Q14. We do note the that 1Q13 results for PKI may be negatively skewed due to externalities (working days/weather)
LONGER-TERM FORECAST: RECOVERY THESIS INTACT
One of the major tenets of our forecast is what we refer to as the Deferred Birth Opportunity, which is the number of pregnancies/births that were delayed for economic reasons because of the Great Recession. Note that the size of primary birth demographic (women aged 20-34) was not only growing, but experienced accelerating growth from 2007-2012, alongside a cumulative decline of 9% in US Births during that period.
Ultimately we see some percentage of that Deferred Birth Opportunity coming back into the system; particularly among first-time mothers, which annually represent 40% of US Births. We estimate that between 1.0 and 1.5 million births have been deferred during the Great Recession. Given the currently deflated base of US births (2012 was lowest annual nubmer since 2000), the growth potential could be significant.
Charts below. Feel free to contact us for more detail, underlying data, or with questions.
Thomas W. Tobin
Hesham Shaaban, CFA
The total percentage of successful long and short trading signals since the inception of Real-Time Alerts in August of 2008.
LONG SIGNALS 80.52%
SHORT SIGNALS 78.67%