Miller Industries


After the Scottish media’s highly successful enquiries into Craig Whyte last year thwarted a disaster for a Scottish institution, Bill Miller’s elevation to ‘preferred bidder’ in the two-horse race to become Rangers’ next owner merits a closer look. On the theory that companies reflect the personalities of their founders, I thought that a check on Miller Industries Inc. might be instructive. A quick analysis of their regulatory filings makes for dull reading. That lack of interesting material alone should be a cause for celebration within the blue sections of Glasgow. In the mundane and orderly details of an unexciting business like towing equipment, there could not be a more stark contrast between Miller and Whyte.

Only last night was I told that Miller only owns 3.35% of Miller Industries, Inc.’s outstanding stock- a stake worth US$5.8m. That is not a lot of money and it fueled my curiosity. However, after just a little digging, I found that in just in this calendar year so far, he has sold about US$1.4m is shares and since June 2011 he has liquidated US$6.8m of his holdings in the company that bears his name. There are many reasons why an executive insider might want to reduce his shareholding in a business he runs- many of them personal and nothing to do with fears for the future or anything negative. Miller’s stake in MLR has been diluting ever since he sold 40% of the company in an IPO in 1994- a move that cleared company debts and netted Miller about £5m.

When Craig Whyte swept on to the Scottish football stage, we were bombarded with ripping yarns about his “off the radar” wealth and billionaire status from the cream of Scotland’s sports journalists. Contrary to hack-mythology, Whyte’s background had not been expunged from google. In fact, just a few hours investigating Craig Whyte’s background were enough to get Celtic supporting observers into a frenzy of anticipation of what was to come. The Scottish sports media appear to not have learned much from this experience. A campaign to blindly back Bill Miller is gathering pace despite few knowing anything about the man or why anyone not imbued with a taste for Scottish football would seek to acquire one so late in life.

On Miller being designated ‘preferred bidder’ by Rangers’ adminstrators, it was clear that the task of establishing the facts would once again rest on a handful of “internet bampots”. So I took a first-pass at researching Miller Industries, Inc. (MLR: NYSE). In summary, those hoping for a repeat of last summer’s hilarity will be a bit disappointed. So far, it seems unlikely that we will find a string of empty shell companies and boiler-room operations. Miller Industries, Inc. appears to be a well run, normal business. In the last few years, on the back of the largesse of the US government, it has grown revenues and profits substantially. It endured the economic collapse of 2007/08 without reporting a loss (no mean feat for any metal bashing firm during that period). Crucially, Miller Industries slashed costs and overheads to meet adverse trading conditions early enough to avoid getting swept away in the financial crisis. Today, the company is debt-free.

This company survives in a tough market that is about to get a lot tougher.  According to the company’s 2011 annual report, they do not anticipate a continuation of the US government spending on all manner of towing equipment. Uncle Sam accounted for 27% of their business last year. The prospect of losing such a massive end customer explains why the company’s share price is so low (finance jargon warning: $15.75 per share, a trailing-year P/E of 7.5 which is about half the price of the US market as a whole just now). However, overhead appears to be under control and while profits will almost certainly take a dive in the coming couple of years, this looks like a business that is used to expanding and contracting to suit demand. It should weather any downturn.

If Miller does complete a purchase of the assets of Rangers FC (In Administration)- and this has more than a few obstacles to cross before it is a done deal- Scottish football could do worse than have rational and conservative manager at the helm of what will certainly grow to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, clubs in the land. Scottish football needs a clean break from the varying degrees of irresponsibility that began with David Holmes’ “Souness revolution” in 1986. If Bill Miller is the man to bring détente to the financial arms race that has killed Scotland’s ability to develop its own talent, great. However, there is one blindingly obvious question not getting any air in the media: why on earth would he want to?

Running any Scottish football club conservatively will not be fun or glamourous. If you invest £11m, you will be very lucky to just get your money back. Most Rangers fans (Celtic fans too for that matter) care nothing for the virtues of financial restraint. Raised on Laudrup and Gascoigne, the crowds at Ibrox are unlikely to give much time to a management team that cannot beat “the other lot” year in, year out. If success is to be measured in terms of a solid balance sheet, owning Rangers will be a thankless task.

Motivations for wanting to join the Scottish circus will either be a life-long love of a particular team or it will be financial. Presumably Miller sees a money-making opportunity that few others see. In the absence of an asset bubble or finding a fool willing to part with a lot of money for your shares, profiting from such an investment will take the form of creating annual earnings that exceed your cost of capital. This will not be the stuff that fan dreams are made from. It will mean patient youth development and lots of failed efforts to blood young players. It will mean selling stars in their prime rather than re-signing them on lucrative contracts. Even then, it is hard to imagine that the profits taken home by any club owner will justify the financial risk and effort involved. There are much easier ways to make money than in the Glaswegian goldfish bowl.

Why are the media not grilling Miller on why he would want to be involved at all? How did he hear of the Rangers opportunity? What is his exit plan? (I mean no slight on the financial prospects for newco-Rangers in particular. Celtic are also an investment for the emotionally attached rather than a safe bet).

Miller is obviously not a poor man. Yet, he does not appear to have the f-you money required to casually drop £11m on a strange game in a small far off land.  One would imagine that someone would require 10-20 times this amount in net worth before you could consider risking £11m in cash in such a speculative venture. I have seen no evidence that Miller’s personal wealth comes close to £100m (but I have not finished looking). Rich? Yes. Gamble on a foreign sports club rich? I am not so sure.

In the absence of convincing answers to these questions, suspicions about the real motivations behind Miller’s move will continue unabated. Some think that this is an attempt to pressure Whyte to accept a nominal offer for his shares in a CVA before they become worthless. Other theories point to Miller being a front for someone else. As with Whyte a year ago, when the basic story just does not make sense people should keep asking questions.

About rangerstaxcase
I have information on Rangers' tax case, and I will use this blog to provide the details of what Rangers FC have done, why it was illegal, and what the implications are for one of the largest football clubs in Britain.

7,275 Responses to Miller Industries

  1. Mark Dickson says:

    CVA proposals delayed until later on this week according do this posted yesterday
    http://forum.rangersmedia.co.uk/index.php?showtopic=220891

  2. kennymcluskey says:

    Rantinrobin (9:55 this morn)

    Sorry I have stolen this from you, but in the interest of clarity, NOTE TO SFA/SPL

    EXACTLY WHAT HAVE RANGERS GOT TO DO, TO GET KICKED OUT!

    AND WHAT ARE YOU GETTING FROM THEM.

    REMEMBER NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO OR FAIL TO DO, UEFA ARE ALL SEEING.

    BEWARE

    .

  3. Arabest says:

    All of the above Ground zero! This current situation is an opportunity to prune the game for its medium/long term benefit. Summer football is a no brainer for me. I have 3 children and rarely take them…cos they hate sitting outside for 2 hours on a winters day! How much do postponements and abandonments cost? Hundreds of thousands to each club. What about running undersoil heating? Thousands per day. What about floodlighting? all this would be drastically cut. The pitches would be better leading to better quality players and games. We would no longer be in direct competition with the EPL. There could be gambling possibilities. We would be at peak form when we play in Euro qualifiers, rather than getting caught cold as we seem to more and more often with each passing season.

    Rant over!

  4. cuj says:

    Corsica
    If the French League can thrive in that scenario, why can’t the Scottish League?
    ______________________________________________________________

    French League has a contract with Canal Plus worth about 670 million Euros each year,
    so perhaps they feel they can afford to play in front of half empty stadiums.

  5. longtimelurker says:

    F.M. says:
    22/05/2012 at 12:46 pm

    A diamond of a post amongst the sea of Doncaster pish.

    Thanks

  6. Mark Dickson says:

    duggie73 says:
    22/05/2012 at 2:19 pm

    Duggie – it could be some secretive strategy that you outline however to more sceptical souls like myself perhaps my jitteryness comes from Peter Lawwells own words where he stressed the importance to Celtic of preserving the SPL voting structure and financial distribution – all of which requires Rangers or a similarly-minded newco in the SPL as opposed to some other Scottish football club.

    Of course i would rather Celtic and all the other clubs come out on the side of sporting integrity but iam not holding my breath – perhaps preservation of the status quo is what we will do what is in Celtic’s best interest actually means.

    Either way we will soon see – the vote is next week and no doubt the result will be leaked and those clubs that gave out sly kicks will become the target for the ire of angry bears.

  7. Nowoldandgrumpy says:

    @Pmacgiollabhain: People in Nyon getting “exasperated” at the situation in Scotland. Not impressed with this “NewCo” chat. Not impressed at all…

  8. Jimbo milligan says:

    Where is the money coming from to keep the show on the road?

    ===================

    According to fudd and duffer as of june 1st its greens consortium that are running the club
    financially .

    They have an “irrevocable” mandate to do this apparently .

  9. Not The Huddle Malcontent says:

    Nowoldandgrumpy says:
    22/05/2012 at 3:03 pm
    0 0 Rate This
    @Pmacgiollabhain: People in Nyon getting “exasperated” at the situation in Scotland. Not impressed with this “NewCo” chat. Not impressed at all…
    ================================

    oh Phil, you are a tease……….

    WHO in Nyon
    WHAT have they said
    WHAT are they planning to do about it

    this sort of pi5h (and he does it regularly) is the sort of nonsense we get from the MSM

    PHIL, you are not the story, you are not the star……if you know something, report it

    If you just want to be a well placed fan “in the know” well sign up to KDS and post it there as a fan.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it – journalist/Fan – pick one and stick to it on your blog.

  10. Private Land says:

    F.M. says:

    22/05/2012 at 1:13 pm

    From CQN: Paul67
    ________________________________________________

    I think Paul is wrong. The most important development this week is the failure of Scottish football to take any kind of leadership role in this mess. That is something the SPL/SFA have had in their control, whereas the RFC financial situation is something over which they have no influence.

    The total absence of any kind of moral compass is endangering the reputation of the game no matter what the outcome at Ibrox. Even if a parachute decision never has to be taken, the SPL are advertising in three foot high letters on a wall near you that the only opinion they pay attention to is that of their wallets. Fans are left with their illusions of sport shattered, and some may never return in any case.

    “Look at poor Charlie Green and the Duffers” is simply deflection from the real issue. The SPL need to – in common parlance – grow several pairs and stop flouncing like a Southern Belle in a heatwave.

  11. Lemmy says:

    Sorry if this has already been said.

    But where is the line for the SPL in the ££££ v fairness debate. For example, if DUFC are playing a new RFC in the game before the split next season. RFC need to win to make the top 6 and therefore get the 4th OF game of the season otherwise the Sky deal might be in jeopardy. Would DUFC let RFC win? Sounds unthinkable.

    But it’s not a huge jump from the arguments currently being made by DUFC to the Aradtrust. Which goes along the lines of: let a corrupt RFC in to the league so we don’t lose our £900k.

    That said, atleast DUFC are talking to their fans.

  12. Jimbo milligan says:

    Pmacgiollabhain: People in Nyon getting “exasperated” at the situation in Scotland. Not impressed with this “NewCo” chat. Not impressed at all…
    =============

    Well why dont they do something for a change ??

    I just dont believe for a second they are that bothered about this “situation” .

  13. tigertim says:

    I have an idea. As some people appear to be appalled at the idea of a New Company going straight into the SPL lets make it fair.

    Any Newco will go into a winner take all match with Dunfermline.
    Both clubs should have the chance to make as much money as possible, therefore the game will be played at Ibrox Park.
    It will have a carnival atmosphere and be billed as family friendly.
    The ideal date would be Saturday the 7th July.
    Marching bands will be arranged but drowned out from the Sky broadcast.
    Billy Dodds, Neil McCann, Walter Smith & Mark Hatelely will be on Skys impartial studio guests.
    Registered/Unregistered/Dual Registered players can be used by both clubs.
    Jim Jefferies must remain as manager of Dunfermline.
    To ensure fairness an anonymous independent committee will decide on the 4 match officials.
    This committee will be secured from a secret ballot at a secret place from past Grand Mast.., oops sorry, Scottish Referees.

    I think that should make it fairer and more acceptable to everyone, nothing to see here.

  14. Private Land says:

    Nowoldandgrumpy says:

    22/05/2012 at 3:03 pm

    @Pmacgiollabhain: People in Nyon getting “exasperated” at the situation in Scotland. Not impressed with this “NewCo” chat. Not impressed at all…
    ____________________________________________________________________

    Oh God …….

  15. Goosy says:

    Jimbo milligan says:

    22/05/2012 at 3:07 pm

    Where is the money coming from to keep the show on the road?

    ===================

    According to fudd and duffer as of june 1st its greens consortium that are running the club
    financially .

    They have an “irrevocable” mandate to do this apparently .
    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
    That makes no sense
    Green has made an irrevocable purchase proposal to buy RFC via a CVA or buy assets via a NewClub Creditors will decide by 6 June and HMRC can block Green

    D&P are responsible for funding until 6 June When HMRC block Greens proposal D&P will have to apply for liqudiation within a few days of 6 June or face running at a massive loss or make the business unviable by firing 90% of the employees immediately

  16. VITAL Signs says:

    CBQ says:22/05/2012 at 12:53 pm
     25 10 Rate This

    How did it ever come to this?
    Three words
    The Old Firm….

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Another three words.

    An Easy Target.

    Most, if not all leagues, consist of the haves and have nots. You will normally find those that have, looking to maintain their position. That doesn’t mean it is right or fair, just the way it is. If, in a parallel universe, we had say Hearts and Hibs, ruling the roost, would they be behaving that differently to the Old Firm? Probably not.

    Talking of the Old Firm, in the event of a newco/new club, it would no longer be an Old Firm. What term could the MSM use?

    The Reassembled Firm?
    The Old and New Firm?
    The Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) Firm?
    The Old and Infirm?

  17. CE says:

    Not The Huddle Malcontent on 22/05/2012 at 3:09 pm said:

    Got it in one NTHM, the man has complete delusions of grander than bear not relation to his knowledge or writing ability.

    Seems to be Celtic fans having moments of clarity all over the place today, must be the heat!

    Nanny McPhee is not the real story, to paraphrase H+D, he is an irrelevance. New Club is coming, how we deal with this is going to be more important than how we got there.

  18. Jimbo milligan says:

    goosy .

    Maybe im imagining things but im sure thats what D & P said at one of their press conferences.

  19. CE says:

    tigertim on 22/05/2012 at 3:25 pm

    You forgot that no Rangers player shall receive a red card under any circumstances, as this would be punishing the club and fans for the action of one individual.

  20. tigertim says:

    CE says:
    22/05/2012 at 3:30 pm

    Seems to be Celtic fans having moments of clarity all over the place today, must be the heat!

    Nanny McPhee is not the real story, to paraphrase H+D, he is an irrelevance. New Club is coming, how we deal with this is going to be more important than how we got there.
    =================================================================
    CE, this is the second time today you appear to be having a pop at Celtic fans.
    No problems with that I would ask that they would be excluded from your grand “WE” proposal, “how we deal with this is going to be more important than how we got there”, you either want us or you don’t, not both..

  21. F.M. says:

    RTC has a new blog up

  22. Hugh McEwan says:

    Jimbo milligan says:
    22/05/2012 at 3:07 pm
    0 0 i Rate This

    Where is the money coming from to keep the show on the road?

    ===================

    According to fudd and duffer as of june 1st its greens consortium that are running the club
    financially .

    They have an “irrevocable” mandate to do this apparently .

    ==========================================

    How are they going to do this exactly.

    They don’t own the club, so it would have to be way of loans or gifts. The club is in administration so it cannot take loans as far as I am aware, so the Green consortium is simply going to be paying sums on behalf of an entirely separate business, still owned by Craig Whyte, which it hopes will survive via a CVA and that Craig Whyte will then give over the shares, for £2. Or more realistically they hope to be allowed to buy the assets, place them in a new company and trade as a football club in Scotland.

    This for a business which is still being investigated for fielding a large number of illegible players over the last decade or two and which could be thrown out of football. A club which has already got no European football next season (at least), has to cut the outgoings by about £10m and has a 12 month transfer embargo, which they have already appealed and lost.

    Are they mentalists.

    I asked Peter Lawwell what he thought about this but he declined to comment.

  23. Tannadeechee says:

    Lemmy says:
    22/05/2012 at 3:11 pm
    2 0 Rate This
    Sorry if this has already been said.

    But where is the line for the SPL in the ££££ v fairness debate. For example, if DUFC are playing a new RFC in the game before the split next season. RFC need to win to make the top 6 and therefore get the 4th OF game of the season otherwise the Sky deal might be in jeopardy. Would DUFC let RFC win? Sounds unthinkable.

    But it’s not a huge jump from the arguments currently being made by DUFC to the Aradtrust. Which goes along the lines of: let a corrupt RFC in to the league so we don’t lose our £900k.

    That said, atleast DUFC are talking to their fans.

    ———————————————————————————————-
    The statement put out on Sunday does not say what is reported by the Evening Telegraph. It states that IF there was NO TV deal DUFC would loose £blah, but it states that ESPN have publicly said they will not pull out so SKY must say one way or another so that people can have a fair and educate vote.
    It also states

    “There is little doubt that over the last few weeks, the attitude amongst many supporters has hardened against the re-admission of a Rangers newco to the SPL. This has been due, in large part, to the damning report issued by the SFA and also to what many regard as the unapologetic attitude and threatening, bully boy antics of certain individuals associated with Rangers.”

    See the full statement at

    http://www.arabtrust.co.uk/current/?619-statement

    It is a little but different that what is being reported. My view is they should not be waltzed back into the SPL, hence I.m waiting to see what will happen before renewing/not renewing my season ticket

  24. Goosy says:

    Re Financial fair play proposal to be voted on at 30 May Mtg of SPL members

    Currently CFC and RFC have a veto and any change needs an 11-1 majority The proposal removes this veto by the Old Firm
    Presumably as soon as D&P apply for liquidation they would not have a vote on this issue?
    If so all the Clubs need to do is to postpone their vote until RFC cannot legally vote and the proposal removing the veto will be passed
    Or will the last throw of the dice by D&P acting on behalf of CW be to vote for removing the veto in exchange for dropping the NewClub sanctions?

  25. yakutsuki says:

    Tiger Tim at 2.19pm

    22/05/2012 at 2:19 pm

    4

    0

    Rate This

    yakutsuki says:
    22/05/2012 at 2:13 pm

    =================================================================

    Suppose the MSM did everything you say after Rangers were no more, would this be because they have learned the error of their ways or because Rangers no longer exist???
    ______________________________________________________________________________

    I think the answer is obvious. It’s all about motives after all. Wrong motives=NO integrity.

    If you read my post, was it not clear that In referred to humility? If someone is humble and
    contrite it is virtuous, and for me praiseworthy.

    I don’t really know why you asked me the question really. I was only defending Hugh as I
    thought his criticism unfair and the analogy flawed.

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