Yes, you can cry over spilled milk. You should know that, on the whole, REITs did quite well during the first quarter of 2015; what you probably don’t know is that a smaller subset — the self-storage REITs — did even better still, generating a return of 8.8 percent, as opposed to the total returns of several indicators, including:
• S & P 500 — 0.95 percent
• MSCI US REIT — 4.8 percent
• FTSE NAREIT All REITs Index — 4.0 percent
Self-storage has developed into a niche market within the realm of commercial real estate. Its market concentration is low, with only thirteen percent of the facilities controlled by the top ten players and the remainder managed by numerous small businesses.
The FTSE NAREIT All REITs Index includes four self-storage REITs: Sovran Self Storage, Inc. (NYSE:SSS), Public Storage (NYSE:PSA), Extra Space Storage Inc. (NYSE:EXR), and CubeSmart (NYSE:CUBE).
The four companies share many consecutive years of strong operational performance. As a result of a combination of steady same-store growth and store expansion, their overall revenues have grown by two digits, and net operational income has grown slightly higher than revenues, a sign of how strong their operational efficiency is.
On the cash flow front, funds from operations (FFO) and cash dividends have increased over time and, according to the guidance of management, it is unlikely they will stop in 2015. Last but not least, expansion has been carried out wisely and a healthy debt profile maintained — the company has held its debt-to-enterprise level within reasonable bounds.
On the macro level, as long as U.S. demographics and the current state of the economy help increase the number of personal possessions which thus need to be stored outside the owner’s residence, self-storage will be in demand. Some believe baby boomers will strengthen this trend by moving into smaller houses. As a result, future growth prospects look positive.
Since convenience is an important reason for choosing a facility (those near home or office are preferred), other drivers of demand have been associated with local market conditions like population growth and average household size and income. Competition and excess supply can also affect occupancy levels and rental rates.
Mixture of self-storage and U-Haul with an office feel
The self-storage concept has quickly evolved into a combination of self-storage and U-Haul with an office “feel.” Operators have begun focusing on generating income by offering additional services like truck rentals, moving and packing supplies, and tenant insurance. To further meet customer expectations, they have adopted innovative products and services, including online and automated kiosk rentals, climate-controlled and wine storage, 24-hour accessibility, customer service call center access and after-hours storage. Self-storage has changed radically.
Written by Heli Brecailo
Disclaimer This newsletter is not engaged in rendering tax, accounting, or other professional advice through this publication. No statement in this issue is to be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security or other investment. Please do your own due diligence before making any investment decision. Some information presented in this publication has been obtained from third-party sources considered to be reliable. Sources are not required to make representations as to the accuracy of the information, however, and consequently the publisher cannot guarantee accuracy. Disclosure The author has no positions in any shares mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.