Analyst Note| David Whiston, CFA, CPA, CFE |
We are not changing our fair value estimate after AutoNation announced on Sept. 21 that CEO and director Mike Jackson, 72, will retire from both positions on Nov. 1. Jackson returned to the CEO role in April 2020 after then-CEO Cheryl Miller went on medical leave. The plan since July 2020 had been for Jackson to remain as CEO until his contract expiration next April 12. Jackson first retired in March 2019 after about 20 years in the role, but his replacement, Carl Liebert from USAA, turned out to be a poor fit. Miller took over in July 2019, but took leave in April 2020 and decided not to return in July 2020. We’ve said in our report that we expected the next CEO to come from outside the company. We also noted a key ESG risk to AutoNation’s story when Jackson’s first retirement led to hiring Liebert after only a few months, and when it was clear in July 2020 that Jackson was not staying past April 2022 and a successor would be named in early 2022.