Adam Lanza's Bushmaster (courtesy nydailynews.com)

How could a billion dollar company owned by the endlessly, enormously profitable Cerberus Capital Management possibly be on the brink of bankruptcy? It’s not like Steven J. Feinberg’s mob ever invested in a business of which they knew nothing and mismanaged it into the toilet. Oh wait! Chrysler and Chrysler Financial. Thanks to the American taxpayer, Cerberus walked away from both companies without taking a hit. If the firearms-oriented farrago known as The Freedom Group goes belly-up, Uncle Sam won’t lift a finger. It’s the company that made the assault rifle that killed babies in Newtown! Yup, according to nypost.com, things are looking grim for TFG . . .

Remington, which produced the Bushmaster rifle used in the Newtown shooting, is struggling with more than $1 billion of debt as sales slump. Consumers who initially rushed to purchase a gun in late 2012 out of fear about stricter laws have pulled back on purchases.

“People who intended to buy a gun in three years bought one then,” said Dougherty & Co. Senior Research Analyst Andrea James.

Remington is also facing an expensive recall that could cost more than $25 million, said a source. This month the company said it would replace millions of triggers after reports that guns would fire without being triggered.

More troubling, nine parents of children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School sued the gun maker last week over the rifle wielded by Adam Lanza.

Yes and no. While the sales slump and debt burden weigh heavily on The Freedom Group’s misshapen shoulders, the suit against Bushmaster is nothing more (or less) than a PR stunt. Federal law shields gunmakers against prosecution for criminal use of their products. The Newtown civil suit doesn’t have a hope in hell of making it to a jury.

That said, and said above, the Newtown connection has – and will continue to – make The Freedom Group toxic to any mainstream investor.

The situation “spells disaster” for Remington, said a source familiar with the company’s financials.

Remington has seen its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fall from $240 million last year to $125 million this year, the source said. Revenue has fallen from $1.25 billion last year to $1 billion in 2014.

In October, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Remington’s debt to B2, or high credit risk.

“Remington’s weakened financial condition heightens ongoing rating concerns, including high regulatory and product liability risks and the discretionary nature of its products,” Moody’s wrote.

Cerberus said Remington has cash and that the business overall remained strong.

Strong perhaps. But as my father constantly reminded me, the secret to business is to take in more than you spend. Somehow I don’t think The Freedom Group is adhering to Peter Farago’s dictum. The Post and I reckon TFG is on track to learn one of dad’s other dicta: everything sells at a price. As we almost learned two years ago, apparently . . .

In late 2012, Cerberus tried unsuccessfully to sell Remington, formerly known as the Freedom Group, for $1.3 billion, a source said. A group of well-off Midwestern families expressed interest at a lower price of between $800 million and $900 million.

Remington passed and ended up borrowing more money to pay investors a dividend, raising its debt load to more than $ 1 billion.

Potential buyers will just wait for the company to sink further into trouble and try to pick up the pieces on the cheap, a source predicted. That’s especially true now that the demand for long guns, like the ones Remington makes, has faded.

That fading demand for long guns? Just wait ’til Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations gain credibility and immediacy. Not that TFG can wait that long. With the California Teachers Union [still] breathing down Cerberus’ neck(s) to dump the non-synergistic agglomeration of firearms-related companies, with TFG bleeding cash, there will come a time, soon, when Feinberg’s pals will have to cut bait and fish.

I just hope someone sympathetic and experienced will buy Marlin on the cheap and restore it to its former glory. That is all.   [h/t DD]

57 Responses to Freedom Group on the Brink?

  1. “…ended up borrowing more money to pay investors a dividend…”

    With brilliant moves like that, I just can’t understand how they got into such a financial mess…

    • What dimtards loaned $ to this crew of bumbling WallStreet smarties? Perhaps was a promise to route the cash to the dem elections of 2014?

      In all much noise about nothing. The parts will be sold off to qualified new owners at market price, facilities in totalitarian states will be closed, and current employees will have the opportunity to move to a free state. With luck the WallStreet “smartmoney” will take a bath then all capital losses will be charged off against future tax bills.

    • I’m sure I’ll be corrected vociferously if I am wrong, but here goes…
      I recall reading something about George Soros buying up/into Freedom/Cerebus Group. If that is the case, why does anyone even pretend to buy Remington products? Any of them.
      Of course, I may well be wrong, in which case I’ll take my licks and be banned forever from posting on-line. (Not a chance, but it sounds good to me! 😀 )

      • “(Dan) Quayle currently serves as the chairman of global investments at Cerberus Capital Management.” —Wikipedia.
        George Soros and Dan Quayle don’t play on the same political team.
        When they’re on the same team, they’re trying to make money. …and using political favors when they mess up.
        When one suggests that Soros and Quayle are in on the same conspiracy to disarm America, one is deep in conspiracy theories.

  2. Again, “Corporate Euthanasia” was a term thrown around frequently in the months after Sandy Hook as the discussion of Cerberus’s holdings in Freedom Group developed. Basically many people realized that rather than sell Freedom Group that perhaps they could force social change by running it into the ground. I refuse to believe that there are people so dense, so completely incompetent, that they literally run one of the greatest firearms brands into the ground on accident. Im not much for conspiracy theories but I refuse to believe that Marlin, AAC, Remington, etc could be so easily run into the ground on accident or by a random stretch of mismanagement. In the case of AAC it was fairly obvious, and lets be honest how does one of the longest standing firearms models, the Remington 700, suddenly start sucking so badly. The 700 action is possibly one of the simplest designs in existence and yet suddenly all the recalls and failures? Cerberus tried to find a buyer and was unsuccessful and then suddenly Freedom Group quite literally implodes? Perhaps I am just cynical.

    • Personally, I refuse to believe that there are people so dense, so completely incompetent, that they literally run one of the greatest restaurant brands into the ground on accident. But they did, with Darden, a Fortune 500 company that has 30 times more earnings than Remington and owns such brands as Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Capitol Grille, Longhorn Stakehouse and more.

      Never underestimate the ability of poor management to destroy or weaken good companies. It happens all the time.

      • @Ralph Exactly! And once again look at the big three automakers. Ford is the only one that didn’t take from the government and properly restructured through the correct bankruptcy channels. They ultimately came out victorious and were the first to post profits after the collapse. GM & Chrysler (especially Chrysler group where Daimler smartly broke free) took our taxpayer money to save themselves. If Chrysler had not done that (and yes, their debts were forgiven unlike what the current administration tries to imply), they would have either liquidated or been bought and restructured by a different holding company. We the people kept Chrysler alive (compliments of the IRS). I personally don’t think this is a conspiracy. It is the same group of people, with the same history of poor management and restructuring of companies.

        I’m not shocked at all, only sad. Even though current Remington/Bushmaster/Marlin products are at junk levels, it doesn’t negate long histories (especially with Remington and Marlin) of excellent firearms! My late grandfather’s Marlin from the early 1900’s was an example of superior build. Unfortunately, models from the last 10-20 years don’t touch the build quality of that era. Their lever action was an innovative design, and if all of this goes under (still bitter they bought Para this year), it will all become “history.”

        • Ford did not restructure through “correct bankruptcy channels”. They had already secured private loans by mortgaging everything, including the iconic blue oval before the bottom fell out. They then set about turning the company around through good management instead of through worming their way out of financial obligations with taxpayer funding then bankruptcy as their cross town rivals did. Remington is an iconic brand that could be saved through proper management and refocusing on core product, unfortunately that will never happen with a bunch of whores like Cerberus at the helm.

      • I’ve been saying this since the day the Angry Puppy took over – it will kill everything. It always does. Voila!

        Here’s a little secret – a cap management firm exists to make everybody in the executive ranks wealthy. If the clients make some money along the way, that’s ok too. Cap management firms, like rest of Wall Street are hedged 6 ways from Sunday, with obscenely complicated derivative tools and credit-default swaps. There’s still more CDSs out there than could be paid by the entirety of the world economy.

        Just like with Chrysler, Cerberus execs will get paid on this. There’s always an angle, and there’s always a way to loot a company. Just like Icahn has always done.

        The easy tell when a company is in trouble (or obfuscating at least) – they start quoting profits using EBITDA…

        • And this, friends, is the heart of the issue. Cerberus exists to make money for the initial investors. Its borrowing of money to pay investors dividends is not stupid business, if your business is to make money for Cerberus; it is asinine if your business is to run a strong and profitable company. The suckers are the investors who buy in later and have to pay off the borrowed money. This investment firm has no desire to run companies; it is vampire capitalism, pure and simple.

    • I refuse to believe that there are people so dense, so completely incompetent, that they literally run one of the greatest firearms brands into the ground on accident.

      You must not have worked in a large bumbling business have you?
      Never under estimate the stupidity of executives especially executives who are lawyers.

  3. cut bait AND fish? I thought the expression was “fish or cut bait,” meaning either keep your hook in the water or “cut bait”, i.e. give up and cut the line.

  4. They took two solid companies and ruined the most iconic rifles in America. Sucks to be them, it really does blow that the guys and gals on the floor will be unable to provide for thier families while the three piece execs walk away rich.

  5. Part trouble with Freedom Group has do with fact release some firearms through Remington that where lemons than had deal fact they had fix them at own cost. Other issue they had a lot lawyers on pay roll over all law suites they been put through over all well know issues they caused. There lot reasons why Freedom Group has issue it has today easy pick them all out. Thing about selling firearms to public they never really forget or forgive gun companys put out lemons special when there so bad get them killed have use them defend there lives with.

  6. The Henry Rifle people seem to be doing pretty well, and they’ve got a solid reputation. Maybe in time they’ll add Marlin to their portfolio of resurrected American icons.

    More likely, Marlin will end up like Winchester. Some foreign factory (Rossi, perhaps?) will buy the name and produce small runs of Marlin leverguns as an overpriced nostalgic boutique item.

  7. My fat sister wants to sue corelle dinnerware for supplying the plates that hold all the triple helpings of food that can be pile on it…. meanwhile little johnny dishwasher wants a recall based on cutting his finger on the sharp pieces of broken dinnerware… the attorneys say file bankruptcy and rebrand under the Tupperware name… and blah, blah,blah…

  8. I hate to see Remington’s latest moves, the R-51 & 700 trigger fiasco, kill a company that
    had over a century of good reputation.

    Maybe they can pull out a Harley situation after getting out of the shadow of AMF, and use
    their good name, after decades of flawlessness, get their good rep back.

    It’s a tough row to hoe in this day and age, however…

  9. It is just as well. This may actually be a positive for the firearms industry. The pack may need to be thinned a bit leaving more money for the other makers. If the company goes belly-up then there will be an opportunity for the viable subsidiaries to be purchased by people who know something about making guns.

    Remington: Who cares. They make a very easy to manufacture model 700 with lots of similar rifles out there. The rifle is overpriced for what it is and occupies a crowded market. I’m not sure they really have the brand loyalty they once had. I certainly wouldn’t buy them out.

    Bushmaster: do we need another maker of decent quality ARs? A very crowded market and a company which doesn’t stand out reputation wise.

    Barnes: someone will definitely buy this. They seem to be a leader in the field and are gaining market share

    Dakota Arms: No idea how this would turn out, but it would be a shame to lose them. They are vulnerable as such a niche product.

    Marlin: They are ripe to be purchased by someone that knows about making guns. Right now they are basically ruined by Freedom. The lever market I think is becoming less important, but they could definitely situate themselves as the leading lever gun company in a not so crowded market.

      • I’m also highly interested in the future of the G2 308 line from DPMS. While many of the Remington AR brands don’t set themselves apart from competition, the G2 does and is worth saving. Maybe give it back to the St Cloud crew instead of that awful Alabama plant?

        • Same thoughts here, have a GII hunter and can’t buy spare parts. Wish I would have bought something else. Was told years ago that the person or persons buying Marlin were anti gun and were going to run it in the ground.

    • Big question in my mind is, does anyone really want Remington’s shotgun and boltgun businesses? Who would be the likely buyer? The patents have got to be long-expired at this point, and there’s Chinese clones of at least the 870.

      • They would do best to comodatize the wazo out of the 870 and 700 lines, much like the ar-15 has been comodatized. The only difference is they have a monopoly on the base design so they can start selling just recievers and let the already decent upgrade markets pick up more slack.

        • Having an AR-15, an 870, and 700 is like having 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ socket sets. All you need.

    • Is there much value left in Marlin, other than the nostalgic nameplate? Their manufacturing is a shambles, their reputation is shot, and most of the original workforce – and their decades of experience building quality rifles – is long gone.

  10. Look up Nardelli. He was deeply involved with TFG but left (or was pushed out).
    He was the genius who almost ran Home Depot into the ground. He left with over $200 million as a kiss goodbye.
    Must make the long time $12 per hour Home Depot employees nostalgic for his return.
    Wherever he is now I guarantee the company stock will slide down as he walks away with millions.
    The bas$&@ds deserve what they get.

    • $200 million in “go away” money for running a company into the ground? Sounds a lot more like the bastards get what they don’t deserve.

  11. All these executives perpetuate their existence. If they allowed the employees to just run the business there would be no need for executives. They fabricate catastrophes in the admin section of the company to justify 30-40% of the company as non-producing employees. The consultants strike again!!!!

    • Look, with all due respect, that’s idiocy. Your average line worker or middle manager has no idea how to run a huge corporation. I agree that the problem is executive mismanagement, but your proposed solution isn’t a viable way of solving that problem.

      Remington needs a CEO from the firearms industry with a proven track record for innovation and quality. That’s not who they’ve been putting in the seat thus far, unfortunately.

      • With all due respect, that’s the view they teach MBAs. The vast majority of whom I’ve met, I wouldn’t let run a Subway.

        Business is business. Are there some esoteric and technical tax issues that require a seasoned professional? Of course. But you are ignoring the science of crowds, and juries (or perhaps you aren’t cognizant of it). The average line worker is smart enough to balance his household budget, and provide the service his employer requires to keep his checks coming.

        Are there some absolute cretins on the line? Of course. But, more often than not, put them all together with a voice and they’ll solve issues “management” can’t begin to address, since they don’t really know the job. We’re talking about the most basic of manufacturing products here, guns. It didn’t take Mullaly to observe that Ford didn’t need 12 different antennas and 20 different seat bases – any line dog would have told you that. It’s all about corporate culture – which is as broken at FG as it is at GM.

        • MBAs as a group are the dumbest group of supposedly educated humans on the planet. None of them have any souls, They traded them in on a degree that Satan would be proud to award.

  12. TFG got greedy, too bad so sad, these big conglomerates get greedy,buy up companies, strip them of assets then peddle them to the highest bidder! meanwhile destroying brand names on their way, Another form of Gun Control, buy up gun manufacturers, run them into the dirt, make their names a dirty word then go belly up! walla no more guns!
    May the bird of paradise Crap on their heads

  13. I don’t see how owning Bushmaster is harmful to business. So the Newtown shooter used a Bushmaster AR-15, so what? How does that harm the business itself?

    Regarding Cerberus’s handling of Chrysler, I actually might give them a pass there, as the 2008 crisis and rising oil prices at the time really drove them over the edge.

  14. Remington sounds much like the Harley-Davidson story. Maybe it will develop in a similar manner.

    What a stretch to suggest Sandy Hook had anything to do with the Company’s financial troubles. Those anti-firearm groups have zero integrity.

    • “Remington sounds much like the Harley-Davidson story.”

      Huh? Remington is a renowned American brand that had produced world-class product for the majority of it’s existence. Harley-Davidson is a vile sh1tstain on the engineering ability of the US, and a worldwide embarrassment. It vibrates like something you buy in a sexshop, can’t go around corners to save it’s life, and does a 1/4 mile measured with a calendar. They break more often than a 70s Jag, and sound like a Downs kid screaming “Potato-Potato” in an uneven rhythm. Just like the HD patent says…

      Those are it’s virtues.

      Harleys are absolute sub-scat junk, even when PorscheDesign fixes the engine as best it is allowed to. If you want an American ‘cruiser’, for the love of dog, get a Polaris/Indian.

      • I agree with everything, except comparing Harley-Davidsons sounding like a kid with Downs Syndrome. These folks are people. This isn’t a fair comparison.

        Harley-Davidson is a marketing company. They should outsource their manufacturing to focus on what they do best, selling a faux outlaw lifestyle to middle aged posers.

  15. Yeah, they’re bleeding money, but I bet the CEO is still pocketing major cash every month. I despise rich pricks like that. They’re company is going under, but will they take a pay cut to help save the business? Hell no. They start cramming cash in their shirts and pants and head for the exit. Because they really need every last billion they can get. What the hell do they need all that money for? When they die, their neglected, spoiled, and hateful children will only piss it away on drugs, sex and stupid business ideas, so what’s the point? Leave it to the widow? She’ll die sad and alone in a big empty house and their children will still get it and piss it away on drugs, sex, and stupid business ideas. Then their children’s children will follow suit, and so on. And that’s the billionaire circle of life.

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