R3: Cutting Losses


July 21, 2010


Shuttering the Liz Claiborne branded outlet business ends one of the more substantial drags on the Partnered Brands segment and keeps management focused on returning to profitability in the 2H of F10.





After the close yesterday, LIZ announced that it will be closing its Liz Claiborne branded outlet stores (a ~$90-$95mm business at about $1mm/store) over the course of 2010 and into early 2011.  The shuttering of these locations (which obviously have very little reason to exist given JCP’s “ownership” of the brand now) ends one of the more substantial drags on the Partnered Brands segment.  This move makes a ton of sense, it’s an unprofitable channel with outdated, oversized stores and extremely poor productivity (<$112/sq. ft.) that has been a substantial money loser. While the company originally had hopes for turning the business around, these decisive steps to clear the decks of residual drags on the business keep management focused on returning to profitability in the 2H of F10.


In an effort to quantify the impact of the news, we looked at the sub-segments within Partnered Brands that have been losing money. Liz outlets account for ~10% of Partnered Brands revenue.  Liz International accounts for modest losses in 1H FY10 and the DKNY Jean business is about twice the size of the Liz outlets with similarly poor profitability.   Excluding these other factors, we attribute ~$5-$10mm in losses to the outlet business in the first half of 2010, or about $10-$15mm annually which equates to a drag of ($0.05-$0.12) in EPS in FY10.


Looking at the business going forward, a portion of the investments in the Liz outlet business will be reallocated toward higher ROI QVC/JCP initiatives with the balance of losses largely eliminated. After renovating ~12-15 outlets last year at ~$150k/door, the company had held off an any additional spend once the JPC/QVC deals were on the horizon. The investment in outlets last year will be part of the $7mm non-cash write off realized in Q2.


The bottom-line here is that LIZ is taking the steps necessary to return to profitability and on the eve of the JCP/QVC transition in August and the first launch of product from the ‘new Mexx’ business under Thomas Grote’s leadership. With a big month ahead for the company and business at an inflection point, we expect to be increasingly focused on this story in the near-term.


-Casey Flavin


R3: Cutting Losses - 1





- In an effort to boost sales as well as generate some “buzz” Target is teasing customers with its “Back in Black Friday” promotion this week.  The online-only event takes place this Friday, with the full selection of sale items to be revealed at that time.  For now the company’s splash page suggests prices will be almost like the “real” Black Friday.


- A recent study by Nielsen suggests the Boomers (78 million consumers) spend 38.5% of CPG dollars.  Interestingly, only about 5% of the industry’s marketing dollars are targeted at the demographic spanning ages 35-64. 


- Despite troubles off the course, Tiger Woods retains his status as America’s favorite sports star for the fifth year in a row according to Harris Interactive.  Kobe Bryant was also tied for the first place spot with Woods, moving up from number 4 last year.  Michael Jordan is the only retired athlete on the top 10 list, occupying the number seven spot.  A full 50% of the top ten favorite sports stars are Nike endorsed.




Consumers Plan to Spend More Online in Q3 - The eBillme Online Spending Index, which is based on a survey of 1,200 consumers, notes that consumers plan to spend an average of $271.77 online in 3Q, up 20% from what surveyed consumers said they planned to spend in 2009’s 3Q. The report notes that 30% of consumers plan to spend $250 or more online in Q3, including  13% who plan to spend $500 or more online, 5%, $1,000 or more and 2%, $2,000 or more. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Consistent with results seen out of retailers with solid .com businesses, double digit growth has been common for the past several months.  As such, we’re seeing retailers like KSS, DKS, and TGT all investing meaningfully in .com infrastructure to support such rapid and substantial growth. 


R3: Cutting Losses - 2


R3: Cutting Losses - 3 


Fear of Brazilian Slowdown May Affect Brands Exposure to the Country - As fashion brands such as Giorgio Armani, Diane von Furstenberg, Burberry, Chanel and Christian Louboutin flock to tap into the booming market with freestanding stores, joining the likes of Gucci and Louis Vuitton that are there already, there are growing concerns Brazil’s growth could slow down over the next 18 months, even as more brands enter the country. The following are risks of the Brazilian market: Lula da Silva stepping down and a new leader take over, massive income inequality, poor infrastructure, a fashion market that is centered almost entirely in São Paulo, and continuing high duties on fashion imports. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Yes, Brazil has risks just like every other country, but our macro team has Brazil on its shortlist of economies it likes in the 2H of F10 and into 2011 as one of the few setup to accelerate domestic consumption to offset a decline in global trade and industrial production – last we checked, that’s bullish for retail.



TJX Canadian Push - The TJX Cos. Inc. said Tuesday that it will open its first Marshalls store in Canada in the spring as part of a six-unit rollout in the country next year. Like TJX’s Winners, HomeSense and StyleSense nameplates, the Marshalls stores will be managed by the company’s TJX Canada group. TJX Canada provides the company its highest financial returns and has been estimated support of 90 to 100 Marshalls units. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:   Add Marshall’s the list of other U.S  based big box retailers heading north.  All in Canada is more profitable than the U.S for most retail chains, but unfortunately the population does not support enough stores to really move the needle much. 


TRLG Re-Enters Footwear - True Religion announced Tuesday it will launch a True Religion Brand footwear range for women with Titan Industries Inc., which also holds footwear licenses for Badgley Mischka, Betsey Johnson, Bebe and L.A.M.B. The collection will launch in spring ’11 with approximately 30 styles, featuring leathers in neutral and metallic hues and bright exotic skins, in flats, wedges and stilettos. The True Religion women’s shoes will be priced from $125 to more than $250 at retail and will be distributed in major department stores and specialty stores both nationwide and internationally. The denim brand previously launched a footwear line in fall ’07 with licensee GMI Footwear.  <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Interesting price point for the shoes relative to the $200 +/- price point for the company’s core denim products.  It almost makes the shoes seem like a bargain. 


UK Outdoor Retailer Blacks Leisure Wilts in Summer Heat - British outdoorwear retailer Blacks Leisure posted a sharp fall in first-half sales, blaming the hot summer weather and faltering consumer confidence in the weeks following the May 6 general election. The 313-store company experienced a 7.5% decline in comps over the 17 weeks to the end of June. Chief Executive Neil Gillis stated: "If it's very dry and you're worried about your job I'm not sure you're going to go out and buy a 200 pounds ($306) waterproof jacket." On a positive note gross margins improved 110 bps from more targeted promotional activity. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Interesting example of when too much heat can trump the benefits of increased seasonal sales.  To be fair, the UK sporting goods market has been challenged for quite some time, hot or cold. 


Nike Names Craig Cheek VP and GM of Greater China - Intent on doubling its business in China by 2015, Nike Inc. on Monday named Craig Cheek vice president and general manager of Greater China. He succeeds Willem Haitnik, who will become vice president and general manager of Converse’s European, Middle Eastern and African businesses.  <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Moving a VP and GM of North American ops to head its efforts in China is reflective of just how important this opportunity is to Nike.


Uniqlo Renews Textile Partnership with Toray - Japanese fast-fashion retailer Uniqlo is renewing its strategic partnership with textile manufacturing giant Toray for another five years to co-develop new fabrics and products. The original partnership began in March 2006 and expires next year but now the two companies will continue to work together through 2015. Toray and Uniqlo are aiming for total transactions between the two companies over the five-year period to total 400 bn yen, or $4.6 bn. For the period between 2011 and 2015, the two companies will also focus more on developing the global scope of their business, both on the production and the sales end. Toray opened a new factory in Bangladesh, called TM Textiles & Garments Limited, on July 8, and this operation will join other Toray facilities in supplying Uniqlo with its products and materials.  <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  This type of strategic partnership is precisely what allows Uniqlo to offer such compelling price points while at the same time delivering innovation at the same time.  Recall that the company’s Heatech product (essentially a very well priced technical base layer) sold out during the winter, which is likely the reason for this renewed deal. 


Swiss Watch Exports Jump 35% - In June, foreign sales of Swiss watches increased 35% year-on-year to $1.28 bn, driven largely by bimetallic watches and gold timepieces, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said. “All price segments registered an increase in June, with rates of growth rising in proportion to the value of watches,” the federation stated. Sales in Hong Kong, the largest market for Swiss timepieces, rose 58.6%, while China’s business grew 69%. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Following strong results in May, watch sales continue to benefit from a favorable currency arb in the far east. 


Hermès International Sales Increase 27% in Q2 - Q2 was well above the expectation outlined for sales growth target of 10% to 12% for the year. In the three months ended June 30, the French luxury firm posted a solid performance in its own stores — up 27.7% — with all key divisions showing strong increases. Sales of leather goods were up 31.5%, while ready-to-wear and fashion accessories posted a 25.7% rise. Sales of silk and textiles, including the company’s iconic silk scarves, rose 24.3%. Wholesale revenues were up 19.8%, with most of the increase due to watches, which saw sales rise 35.9% as consumers regained their appetite for luxury timepieces. Perfume sales were up 16.9% , helped by the launch of Voyage d’Hermès, though the increase was down from the 38.1% jump registered in the first quarter. In regional terms, non-Japan Asia registered the strongest performance in the quarter, up 57.1%, with the Americas up 35.5% and Europe – excluding France – up 26.3%. In Japan, sales were up 10%. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take: Further evidence that Asian-based demand for leather goods is almost single-handedly driving the recovery in luxury leather goods.


Indian Luxury Consumer Prefers to Shop Abroad - Many Indians prefer to travel more than 4,000 miles to London to get suits from their favorite brand, Ermenegildo Zegna, than to drive half an hour to New Delhi’s luxury mall. The feel-good factor and the whole experience of shopping abroad is better than in India because of  the ambience, wider selections and lower prices to be found overseas. Luxury spending in India, the world’s second-most populous nation, was less than a tenth of that in China last year, according to Bernstein Research. Wealthy shoppers’ penchant for the shopping centers of Paris, London and Milan pose a challenge for companies luxury companies entering the domestic Indian market such as LVMH and Gucci. One luxury retailer stated he didn't see luxury taking off for at least another decade.  <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  The bigger issue in Indian retailing still lies within the country’s willingness to allow foreign direct investment in retail.  If the laws are relaxed, it’s likely we’ll see a bigger wave of “mainstream” brands looking to enter the market and tap the worlds second largest population. 


Email Still Driving Shopping over Social Media Marketing - Social media marketing is undeniably important for retailers, but most consumers prefer to receive communications by email. And the more traditional online tactic seems to be driving more in-store shopping. <>

Hedgeye Retail’s Take:  Hard to believe consumers are still willing to deal with spam as a primary motivator to hit the mall.  With that said, social media efforts for most major retailers have barely scratched the surface.   


R3: Cutting Losses - 4





Yesterday was a strong day for most restaurant stocks.  However, there was some telling weakness on my screen.


The quick service category rose an average of 1.5% yesterday, with GMCR, THI, CMG, and PNRA gaining on strong volume.   Overall, volume declined an average of 25% versus the 30-day average.  The casual dining category gained an average of 2.7%, with CAKE, CPKI, DIN, and EAT all seeing their stock rise on strong volume. 


Notable as the only stock to decline on strong volume was BWLD.  In my recent post, “RESTAURANT SIGMAS – WHERE TO NEXT? DEEP HOLE OR NIRVANA”, I outlined some of the issues facing BWLD.  April comps were not encouraging and new unit volumes are declining due to the company’s real estate issue having grown too fast over the last few years.


In addition, I decided to stop at BWLD last night to take advantage of the 50 cent wings.  After eating said wings, I think 50 cents is too expensive!  Judging by the low volume of customers in the restaurant, I think many people out there agree with me.


TALES OF THE TAPE - stocks 720


Howard Penney

Managing Director


WYNN announced a $1.3 billion note offering not due until 2020. Taking out the 2014 notes leaves no significant fixed maturities until 2017. Not exactly a bullish bet on the US economy.



WYNN is offering to sell $1.32 billion of First Mortgage Notes due 2020.  The proceeds will be used to purchase the 2014 Notes and in the process, will leave no significant fixed maturities until 2017.  WYNN’s credit facility does mature in July of 2013 but there is only $250 million drawn which shouldn't go any higher.  So is WYNN just overly conservative or is Steve actually scared?


In conjunction with the offering announcement, WYNN provided Wynn Las Vegas Q2 preliminary results.  EBITDA of $65 million actually beat our $62 million with table hold at 20%, exactly in-line with our projection.  Better margins drove the upside.


Mr. Wynn has made it clear that he is very much in disagreement with Obamanomics.  Pushing out the maturities may indicate that Steve fears stagflation and a potential credit crisis.  Hedgeye isn’t too far from that thesis.  If Steve is right, then this financial move is the right one.  Of course, if Steve is right, it won’t be good for US stocks, particularly gaming stocks with significant US exposure and leverage – MGM comes to mind.

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As we look at today’s set up for the S&P 500, the range is 44 points or 2.3% (1,059) downside and 1.8% (1,103) upside.  Equity futures are trading above fair value, as technology stocks in Europe are among the leading performers, buoyed by strong results from Apple (AAPL).


The Recovery/Reflation trade drove the market higher yesterday as Materials (XLB), Energy (XLE) and Industrials (XLI) were the three best performing sectors yesterday.  The RECOVERY trade benefited from a  three-week high in China shares on speculation surrounding a relaxation of tightening measures aimed at the residential property market. In addition, Spain, Ireland and Greece held relatively successful bond auctions yesterday.


China closed up another 0.26% this morning.  Also helping to confirm the move in the RECOVERY trade yesterday, copper rose 1.6% - the most in three weeks.     


Following yesterday’s move in the S&P 500, the Materials (XLB) and Energy (XLE) are now positive on TRADE, bringing the total to five of nine - the other three Utilities (XLU), Consumer Staples (XLP), and Technology (XLK).  Utilities (XLU) remains the only sector positive on TREND.


The only sector to decline yesterday was Healthcare (XLV).  The weakness largely attributed to JNJ which declined 1.7%.  JNJ missed on the top-line for Q2 and lowered its 2010 EPS guidance by a larger-than-expected $0.15 to reflect the impact of the OTC recall and manufacturing suspension and FX headwinds.


Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke will give his semiannual report on monetary policy to the Senate

Banking Committee today and will testify at the House Financial Services Committee tomorrow. 


Treasuries were unchanged to a tad firmer yesterday despite the recovery in stocks. The dollar index traded up 0.1% and the VIX declined 7.9%. 


The Investors Intelligence poll sees bullish sentiment increases to 35.6% from 32.6% in the latest Investor's Intelligence poll. 






Yesterday of the 26 companies that reported 2Q earnings 81% beat the earnings estimates, while 35% of the companies missed revenue expectations.  Those same percentages hold for what we have seen so far in the 2Q earnings season. 
















In preparation for the HOT Q2 earnings release tomorrow, we’ve put together the pertinent forward looking commentary from the company’s Q1 earnings release/call and subsequent conferences



“Despite all the good news and the better-than-expected REVPAR, we still see reasons to consider less sanguine scenarios. To borrow a phrase from Warren Buffett, we should be fearful when others are greedy. We want to avoid the mistake of taking actions born out newfound optimism. After all, the global economy remains volatile. China risks overheating. Greece and the eurozone are grappling with major fiscal and philosophical issues, not to mention the mountain of U.S. government debt. Finally, volcanoes in Iceland, Red Shirts in Thailand and unrest in Mexico remind us that our industry is susceptible to sudden changes from many unforeseen corners.”


YouTUBE from Q1

  • “While we feel good about projecting the current trend into Q2, giving you a definitive view of the back half is quite another matter. The engine of the recovery so far has been late-breaking corporate business, which is hard to see four to six months out. Even for group business, the booking window is unusually short right now. REVPAR comparisons get tougher in the back half, and exchange rates go from being a tailwind to neutral and potentially even a modest headwind.”
  • “Thanks to lower costs at equivalent REVPAR levels, our EBITDA would be at least $100 million higher than before 2009.”
  • “The favorable trends that we experienced in Q1 continued into April and bode well for the balance of the year.”
  • “Leisure and transient demand remained firm, more than offsetting group business that was canceled or not booked in 2009. Importantly, the strongest results came from our urban markets such as New York, London and Paris and in the four and five star categories, all of Starwood's sweet spots. Corporate transient revenue in London and Paris was up 43% in the quarter.”
  • “Group production was improving quickly off a low base. Remember that last year, we had little new bookings and a high cancellation activity. Our gross production, i.e. new bookings, is up 30% for 2010, and importantly, cancellations, block adjustments and wash at arrival are down from record levels last year, and in fact, are now trending below normal levels. This translate into net production, which is projected net revenue for the year and in the year, being up triple digits.”
  •  “Asia was already off to a strong start, up 11% in January. This momentum accelerated as REVPAR grew 16% in the quarter and is up 20% in April.”
  • “The return of corporate travel is of course the primary driver. In Asia as elsewhere, there was significant unanticipated late-breaking corporate business, both transient and group. Occupancies in the quarter were up 10 points, rate was down 3%. The rate trend through the quarter improved, down 10% in January, flattish in March and now up 2% in April.”
  • “Company-operated REVPAR was down 3% in January, flat in February. We then saw a sharp uptick in March, up 9%, which has continued into April. As you have heard from others, the major driver is late-breaking corporate business, both transient and group. The recovery is broad-based across sectors and across geographies.”
  • “In April, we are seeing the first positive ADR change in North America since this downturn” began.”
  • “It is fair to say that Europe did not outperform as much as the U.S. did. In March, European REVPAR was up 5%.”
  • “In Q2, Mexico will lap the huge H1N1 decline in 2009 so growth rates will turn positive. So far in April, Mexico is up 7%. Our five hotels in Chile have been impacted by the earthquake. Business is down significantly and the recovery will be slow.”
  • “In our Vacation Ownership business, conditions continue to stabilize. Price reductions helped both close rates and price realization in several markets.”
  • “Expected margin improvement in Q2 reflects the fact that REVPAR growth is driven primarily by occupancy, which does not flow through at the same level as ADR increases. Also 300 basis points of forex-driven top line growth does not drive margin gains.”
  • “We should point out some other items that impact year-over-year comparisons in Q2: Net asset sales through 2009, Bliss, the W San Francisco, the Fifth Avenue shops and now The Court, Tuscany. These assets contributed approximately $5 million in EBITDA in Q2 last year. Also, in the fees and other income line last year, we recognized other income of $7 million from a non-refundable deposit, which is non-recurring.”
  • Guidance
    • “Our newly revised mid-range scenario shows worldwide company-operated REVPAR to be between plus 5% and 8% in 2010 and REVPAR at our worldwide-owned hotels to be plus 4% to 7%.”
    • “For owned hotels worldwide, we're going from a range of minus 2% to plus 2%, to 4% to 7%. Exchange rates will add another 100 basis points to REVPAR as reported in dollars.”
    • “Full year company EBITDA of $810 million, up from $750 million.”

Post Earnings Conference Commentary

  • “Our most recent expectations on a global basis is a 5 to 8% RevPAR growth.” [reiterated in June] 
  • “As we get into June and July, last year we started to see a recovery, first with leisure travel and then later in the year with business travel, so in fact last year there was a meaningful reduction in the rate of decline in Q3 and Q4.” 
  • “I think what you should watch for is what’s happening to business confidence, consumer confidence and how corporate profit expectations are being adjusted. If you see those being adjusted downwards, then of course there will be an impact on our business.”
  • “So for the rates of growth we’ve seen to sustain themselves, the absolute level of growth would have to improve substantially. So it wouldn’t be surprising for us to see the rate of growth as you compare it to last year to begin to moderate from the level that it’s at right now. That’s still okay because absolute levels of growth still remain high. So our guidance for Q3 and Q4 in effect implied. In Q2 we said we’d have double-digit growth, but if you looked at our guidance in Q3 and Q4, we implied some moderation as you compare to better numbers from last year.”
  • “In terms of the euro itself, I think it’s too early to tell what the overall impact will be. It all depends on what the economic impact is…Our owned hotels have tended to be a very U.S. driven. We should be helped there. But more broadly, I mean we have 200 hotels in Europe, more broadly our hotels are fundamentally business driven and so it will depend on how the European economy does.”           
    • “When it comes to the euro, for the last several years, we’ve hedged about half of our exposure. And I think if you read the queue, the average rate that we hedged that for this year is something like 1.40.”
  • “We’ve been fairly clear I think in some of earnings calls that in fact getting back to investment grade is one of things we intend to do. When will that happen, I don’t know…”
  • Group Booking: “So, 2009, I will put it kindly, a disaster. 2010 has been a good solid rebound, and if what we’re seeing today from a bookings perspective continues, 2011 should be a stronger year.”

Miscellaneous comments

  • “In the U.S., over the last 40 years for which data is available, room demand has grown compounded at 2.6%.”
  • “So we really think of ourselves as a growth business that happens to have cycles along the way, and in fact if you look at the non-U.S. part of the business, we think the case for secular growth there is even more obvious because in most parts of the world the infrastructure that was built in the U.S. and in Europe over the last 50 or 100 years is only now being built.”


In preparation for the PENN Q2 earnings release tomorrow, we’ve put together the pertinent forward looking commentary from the company’s Q1 earnings release/call and subsequent conferences



Q1 Conference Call

  • “The one area the country that we're seeing the most softness is in Southern Mississippi and Southern Louisiana. And it was a year ago in the first quarter in '09, it was one of the stronger markets we had. So we think it's got a bit of a lag effect and we have not seen any material signs of recovery from what's being reported by the state so far. And in addition, the level of promotional activity especially in Southern Mississippi remains -- is probably the one market in the United States or markets in the United States that continues to show the most softness.” 
  • “There's clearly a little bit of little better margins reflected in the rest of the year but also reflecting that as we get a little more cost conscious on our marketing programs some of those -- we're going to have some negative impact on our revenue as we pull out from possible customers... So I think what you're seeing is slightly improved margins for the rest of the year, but I wouldn't say that we meaningfully moved our EBITDA guidance at the end of the day.” 
  • “We're seeing…customers coming but their spend per visit has been down and that's been a trend now for about three or four quarters. So we've gone back in our businesses and looked at on a customer-by-customer basis the profitability we have against these customers given our past marketing practices and in certain segments of our business, certain groups of customers were spending less. We're redefining the terms of what they're going to get in terms of their rewards and incentives, and pulling back to make them more profitable for us to continue the relationship going forward, and it's really just as simple as that. Going in program by program down to the customer level and determining what margins we want to operate these programs against, and then making tough decisions on customers, where they got an offer before they're going to get either a lower offer or no offer going forward. And that's what you saw in the first quarter and that's what we're working on as we continue into the second quarter and the balance of the year.”
  • “Second quarter we're projecting about $1.8 million in cap interest and then $7.1 million for the year.”
  • Q: “And then corporate overhead, it's ran, what $16 million or so in the quarter? Is that a decent run rate?”
    • A:  We're projecting a little higher than that. We're on a normalized run rate looking at probably about $58 million for the year.” 
  • “We're going to certainly have some increased marketing spends in advertising and creating awareness of these two properties that table games is now being offered. For West Virginia, we're expecting sometime in July to get up and running. So probably in June, July and maybe partially in August and then it will start to burn off after that. At Penn National, probably it's going to be later in the third quarter, we're anticipating. So it would probably a third quarter kind of effort to create the awareness that table games is there as well. And then once the awareness is created and we start driving the trial, then you'll see the pullback of those advertising efforts.”
  • “Second quarter, we're projecting project CapEx of roughly $85.7 million and maintenance CapEx of $23.6 million. For the year, these numbers are highly dependent on -- or expect the inclusion of paying $100 million in license fees for Columbus and Toledo. We're looking at project CapEx for the year of roughly $439.8 million, maintenance CapEx is now looking closer to $94 million for a total of $533.8 million.”


Post Earnings Conference Commentary

  • “In terms of visitation we’re flat across most of our properties and it’s been flat for a long time, actually in the gaming industry in general and at our properties specifically. Where we’ve seen the decline obviously is in the spend per visit, that was down pretty significantly in ‘09….I think that sort of portfolio-wide, it’s steady as she goes and I think April and May have been sort of the same as what we’ve seen in the first quarter as well.” 
  • “I think on the Gulf Coast, we’ve seen a little bit of weakness there primarily because of the lagged effect of the hurricanes in 2005, there was obviously a big boom period there in that part of  the country and that’s starting to obviously recede now and so that’s sort of what we’re seeing there. On the other hand, there are some markets that are doing pretty well, primarily due to capital that we put into those properties, I’m thinking primarily of Lawrenceburg and Penn National.”