AutoNation named Cheryl Miller, the company’s CFO, to take the reins as Chief Executive Officer — the auto retailer’s second person to hold the job in the four months since long-standing CEO Mike Jackson gave up the job.
Miller is replacing Carl Libbert, who took over for Jackson. Libbert joined the company from USAA, where he was chief operating officer for the financial services company. He is now leaving for the oft-cited chance to “pursue other opportunities.”
Libbert and the company each wished each other well as part of the split. Apparently, Libbert wasn’t a good fit for the job.
“We always that it would be a challenge for someone to get the auto retail business around their head and I think the conclusion was mutual that this was not the right fit,” AutoNation Executive Chairman Mike Jackson told Reuters in a telephone interview.
Jackson added he was excited to announce Miller’s promotion, citing her almost 20 years of experience with automotive retail. She had been CFO since 2014 and joined the company in 2009.
“I’m also am thrilled that for the first time in history we have a woman who is a CEO of a publicly traded auto retailer,” he said. Miller’s background with the company made here a good fit for the job, Jackson noted.
Under her leadership, AutoNation achieved a number of significant milestones, including the reorganization of the company’s operational and financial footprint, which consolidated the region structure and implemented a cost savings plan.
The restructuring has allowed AutoNation to create a more streamlined and efficient core business to better meet the needs of its customers. In addition, under her guidance, AutoNation is the only automotive retailer to earn investment-grade status.
Long-time AutoNation executive, Jim Bender took over as Chief Operating Officer effective immediately. He had been Executive Vice President of Sales.Christopher Cade, senior vice president and chief accounting officer, has been appointed interim Chief Financial Officer as the company searches for Miller’s replacement.
The news came as the retailer announced its second-quarter earnings, which jumped compared to the year-ago period. AutoNation’s second-quarter earnings rose to $100.8 million, or $1.12 a share, from $97.6 million, or $1.07 a share, in the year-earlier quarter. Revenue was essentially flat at $5.34 billion.
Same-store new vehicle gross profit per vehicle sold in the quarter was $1,764, up 10% compared to the year-ago period. Same-store used vehicle gross profit was relatively flat at $1,459 per vehicle. Same-store customer financial services gross profit rose 7% to an all-time high of $1,926 per vehicle.