Less than a year after taking reins of AutoNation as President & CEO replacing Mike Jackson, Cheryl Miller is stepping down with Jackson filling in — temporarily.
Miller is experiencing an undisclosed health issue, according to the company’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. There is no timeframe for her return nor how long Jackson is expected to fill the role that held for nearly two decades.
Jackson stepped down as CEO in September 2018, leaving the job to Carl Libbert. However, he lasted less than four months before leaving to “pursue other opportunities.” Jackson got back in the saddle again until Miller, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, was named to the post last July.
Miller, who had been CFO since 2014, after joining the company in 2009, has a record of facilitating change within the company; however, the AutoNation is struggling the same as other dealer organizations across the country during the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, AutoNation said its sales of new and used vehicles were cut in half during the last two weeks of March. This forced the company to place about 7,000 employees on unpaid leave.
In addition, Miller implemented additional cost-cutting measures, including temporary executive pay cuts, cutting back on advertising and putting off more than $50 million in capital expenditures through the second quarter of 2020.
Jackson, for many, is the face of AutoNation due to length of his tenure and his outspoken nature during it. He was often a go-to executive for reporters looking for an expert perspective on almost any industry topic, before being named Executive Chairman last year.
He took over as AutoNation CEO in 1999, hired by founder H. Wayne Huizenga from Mercedes-Benz USA where was president.
AutoNation was a struggling enterprise when Jackson arrived at the company’s Fort Lauderdale, Florida offices. Jackson kept the company as the No. 1 auto retailer in the country and tripled its stock price while doing it.
For the full year ended Dec. 31, 2019, AutoNation reported net income from continuing operations of $451 million, or $4.98 per share, compared to net income from continuing operations of $396 million, or $4.34 per share, for the same period in the prior year. AutoNation’s revenue for the full year 2019 totaled $21.3 billion, compared to $21.4 billion for the same period in the prior year.