published Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Miller adds heft to dividend in profitable year

by Brittany Cofer

Increasing both its sales and profits for the 2010 fourth quarter and year, Ooltewah-based Miller Industries announced Tuesday a 20 percent boost to its annual cash dividend.

The board of the vehicle towing and recovery equipment manufacturer voted to raise the annual dividend from 10 cents to 12 cents after reporting better than expected earnings after the market closed Tuesday.

Miller sales in the fourth quarter of 2010 were up 18.9 percent, at $79.7 million compared to $67 million in the year-ago period. For the year, sales increased by 29.2 percent to $306.9 million compared to $237.6 in 2009.

Strong u.s. showing

Jeffrey I. Badgley, president and chief executive, said the results showed continued improvement in market demand, achieving substantial year-over-year revenue growth “driven by increased government-related sales, an increase in the level of chassis sales from the third quarter and our improving domestic business.”

Net income in the quarter was $3.6 million, or 30 cents per diluted share, nearly double the $2 million, or 17 cents per diluted share, earned a year ago. For the year, the company reported net income of $11.7 million, or 96 cents per share, compared to $6 million, or 51 cents per share, in 2009.

The company said it will pay its higher dividend on March 24 to shareholders of record as of close of business on March 17.

William G. Miller, chairman and co-chief executive officer, said the dividend increase reflects the company’s “enhanced financial position and excellent cash flow,” giving it the ability to continue investing in growth while maximizing shareholders’ value.

A fourth-quarter contract to manufacture 250 recover units under a government-connected order boosted sales and also served as a testament to the company’s innovations and flexibility in meeting deadlines, Badgley said.

Debt-free operator

Domestic demand is steadily improving, he said, and the company has begun 2011 with “healthy cash reserves and no debt.”

“The 250 recovery units will help drive results for the first half of 2011, and our previous government add-on order, combined with what we expect to be improving demand levels, will support the company for the second half of the year,” he said.

Miller’s stock closed at $16.09 per share Tuesday, up 22 cents from the previous day’s close.

about Brittany Cofer...

Brittany Cofer is a business reporter who has been with the Chattanooga Times Free Press since January 2010. She previously worked as a general assignment Metro reporter. In the Business department, she covers banking, retail, tourism, consumer issues and green issues. Brittany is from Conyers, Ga., and spent two years at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., before transferring to the University of Georgia. She graduated from the university’s Grady College of Journalism in December ...

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