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The special dividend that is being pay this week (the ex-div. date has long passed) was explained as follows:

"The payment of a special cash dividend primarily reflects the successful liquidation of auction rate securities, which resulted in proceeds of $150 million during the third quarter and brought our cash position at quarter-end to $631 million. The use of this cash in no way impedes our ongoing investments in strategic growth. Indeed, we are highly confident that our current initiatives will lead to further improvements in profitability and cash flow. At the same time, today's announcement demonstrates our commitment to enhance shareholder value through execution of our business plan, cash dividends and share repurchases."

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=81256&p=irol...

That is great news that AEO liquited the auction rate securities, though I am wondering if AEO had more than %150 in ARS intially. I seem to recall the stock price took a bit of a hit when AEO announced ARS liquidity issues a few years ago (I think ANF may have had similar issues).
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