Beacause "earnings" is the wrong number to focus on, DCF is. Their coverage (DCF over distributions) is healthy, particularly given how they measure DCF, but there's nothing wrong with that. MLP's are not designed to enrich legacy unit holders, excess cash flow is used for growth. Growth is what business managers do. It's in their DNA. You buy an MLP like VNR for predictable cash flows. Distributions will grow incrementally, barring a 2008-09 crisis. Don't expect anything else.