Is Self-Storage REIT a Buy Again?

chart01Following the announcement of Sovran Self Storage’s US$1.3 billion acquisition, self-storage REITs hit the news again later last week. Extra Space Storage announced an increase of 32% in its dividends. With another big news, my question is, is self-storage a buy opportunity again?

As a matter of fact, due to its double digit growth rates, self-storage has always attracted investors. AFFO multiples have climbed up high and, consequently, the dividend yields have gone down. This made a number of potential investors to lose interest. The average dividend yield of self-storage REITs is 2.9%, making it the lowest as compared to other REIT sectors.

In general, real estate markets have kept supply under control even though it is predicted that there are higher chances of overbuilding. Spencer Kirk, the CEO of Extra Space Storage, said that new supply seemed to be appearing in pockets as no one is aware of them countrywide. Public Storage CEO noted the increase in supply in certain markets like the boroughs in New York and Denver.

Fast growing funds from operations have sustained the 32% increase Extra Space recorded, which pushed the yields from 2.6% to 3.4%. Even though this is still considered to be below average for equity REITs, the share price increased by 32% in the last 12 months.

Another self-storage REIT that recorded an increase in its dividends last week was National Storage Affiliates. Its dividend shot up by 10%, taking its yields to 4.1%. Even though the REIT began trading last year, its AFFO multiple has been at the top. This current year, its share price has already increased by 24%. Definitely, a perfect timing for the company to become public.

Generally, when the rate of optimism is higher, expectations fail to be real thus resulting to be painful. Even though Kirk commented that self-storage has been the best performing asset class year in and year out, investors never like oversupply, or an indication that there will be one. For instance, last year’s prolonged selloff of lodging REITs is a perfect example.

In conclusion, the increase in dividends is appetizing, but it does not lure me into making any purchase.

Source: Sovran Self Storage Inc.(NYSE:SSS), National Storage Affiliates(NYSE:NSA), Extra Space Storage Inc.(NYSE:EXR), Fast Graphs

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.

Are There Opportunities to Be Found in this Mall REIT’s Stumble?

 

chart01

Download our exclusive REIT Report

Last week, the Wall Street Journal published the news that CBL & Associates is under investigation by federal authorities for accounting fraud. In an attempt to make its financial statements that much more attractive to banks, they allegedly inflated rental numbers and occupancy rates. Although the mall REIT has denied the allegations, its strenuous effort to combat the investors’ pessimistic perception of its prospects in the long run makes them all too plausible, meaning that they may or may not be true but will nonetheless hurt it in the short run. Something that CBL & Associates really doesn’t need right now.

In short, CBL & Associates is a mall REIT, which like any other mall has suffered from fears that online shopping will render them obsolete. Even worse, CBL & Associates is a mall REIT that specializes in malls without local competition, which come with a host of other problems as well. For example, such malls tend to have more market power but pay for that by having access to less purchasing power, as shown by how they are managing average sales per square foot of less than $400.

Furthermore, such malls (low productive) are more vulnerable to economic fluctuations, which are a relevant issue at the moment because of some lack of investor confidence in the U.S. economy as a whole. Summed up, this means that CBL & Associates has the misfortune of being one of the less promising investments in a category not that promising, which is a position that no one would want to be in.

The investigation caused CBL & Associates’ share price to fall, which is particularly concerning because its share price has already been falling throughout the last year in spite of its management’s efforts to revive it. Given that a string of successes such as a gradual move towards more high growth properties as well as the disposition of undesirable properties have not managed to change this trend, it seems likely that the mall REIT will continue to suffer now that this has happened, meaning that REIT investors should stay away from the time being.

Source: CBL & Associates Properties In(NYSE:CBL)

Disclaimer: This is not a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. The highest-yield stocks are not necessarily the best portfolio investment choice. The purpose of this report — which is essentially a snapshot of information available on May 27, 2016 — is to reduce your stock analysis by enabling you to compare stock and sector performance. Please do your own due diligence before making any investment decision.

As of April 29, 2016, the equity REITs are constituent companies of the FTSE NAREIT All REITs Index. Companies whose equity market capitalization is lower than $100 million have been disregarded.

This report 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. 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.

Self Storage REIT Gets Carried Away

 

chart01.pngInvestors never realized or attached little importance to the negativity surrounding Sovran Self Storage’s $1.3 billion acquisition of LifeStorage last week. LifeStorage is a privately owned self-storage company that is ranked among the top 15 largest in the sector. Sovran also announced an equity raise of $600 million to fund the transaction.

The drop recorded last week, attributed to the release of Fed minutes, was sharp. More than 90 percent of the equity REIT stocks fell. Sovran stock dropped by 7 %. This is the major drop ever to happen among the self-storage peers.

The subsequent Fitch announcement that they will place Sovran on a negative watch confirms our suspicion. Besides increasing leverage, Sovran will make an expensive acquisition. They will pay an initial cap rate of 4.8 percent, in line with the established self-storage rates, for a company founded five years ago.

However, the management argues that the portfolio of LifeStorage is better and will improve their quality. As a matter of fact, LifeStorage has the benefit of owning higher rent per occupied square foot and a greater surrounding population with a higher average household income.

Given that the company has been recently upgraded by S&P, they were quick to worsen its leverage metrics and increase debt. The transaction will be financed by a bridge loan of $1.35 billion initially, and later replaced by 50%/50% debt and equity. The debt financing percentage will be higher than the usual debt funding. However, the total debt to total enterprise will increase from 17% to 24%, still very manageable.

Sovran got carried away looking for a sizable operator to buy. LifeStorage investors must have celebrated the transaction given the fact that the company is only five years old. Size is an important aspect for a self storage company to compete in an industry where it has become essential to dilute the administrative and marketing costs. Of the 550 properties it has, Sovran will further add 84 more.

A drop in the stock does not mean stocks will be cheaper and, based on the valuation multiples, definitely not a buy.

Source: Sovran Self Storage Inc.(NYSE:SSS), LifeStorage, Fitch Ratings, S&P Global Ratings

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.

Something that we haven’t seen for quite a while

sample

Download our Dividend Yield Report. 

It’s been a very good week for equity REITs, something that we haven’t seen for quite a while. Virtually all stocks went positive. In fact, a mere 8 out of the 174 we track had a negative performance. On average, stocks saw a 4.2% increase, higher than the S&P500. We had several stocks that closed the week with a two-digit growth.

Last week, in anticipation of the release of the Q4 results, investors discovered some stocks that had been undervalued and went on a buying spree. Last week’s top three performers, Monogram Residential Trust (apartments), Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, and Sabra Health Care REIT, will soon be releasing results this week. Other top performers included lodging and timber REITs, as well as CorEnergy Infrastructure Trust, which had been one of the most volatile among equity REITs.

At the same time Monogram stock spiked by 6% on Friday, Madison International Realty, a global real estate investment company and current stockholder in the company, disclosed their potential interest in the acquisition of assets. I’m not sure how or even if they are related, but this stock has seen a lot of activity over the past week. Monogram stocks increased by 13%, topping the list as our best performing stock of the week. On the surface, their stock seems to be overpriced since AFFO multiple has reached 21x. As for Pebblebrook and Sabra, their stocks seem to be a bit underpriced.

The sectors that exceled last week were lodging, healthcare, and self-storage. The first two have certainly been battered this year, so it is understandable that there would be some type of reaction above the market average. The median return for both was between 6-7%, but they will still enjoy one of the highest dividend yields among REITs.

On the other hand, self-storage seems to be unstoppable, bordering on irrational exuberance. Public Storage released strong results last Tuesday and their stocks soared by 8%. Its AFFO multiple is very close to the 30s. Sovran Self Storage and CubeSmart also released the Q4 results and their guidance for AFFO growth has been strong. These two stocks have AFFO multiples in the 20s. The truth is that self-storage hasn’t been a sector to find yields. Stocks have fared well, but yields have been below the REIT industry average.

CubeSmart’s growth was spectacular in the fourth quarter. Their FFO share increased by 18% year over year and same-store net operating income growth reached 11%. The company will not be able to keep up this growth in 2016, but the guidance for next year’s growth rates is still very good. FFO per share growth should grow by 10% and same store NOI by 8%.

As for Public Storage, the largest in this sector, their Core FFO per share increased by 11% in the fourth quarter year over year. The company also touched upon market supply, which appears to be growing at 2-2.5%, and even more in highly populated states, including Texas and Florida, where we expect a decrease in rental rates at some point. However, the company wasn’t able to say when the sector as a whole would be affected by oversupply.

Check the reports for Dividend Yield by Sector and Weekly Returns.

Source: CubeSmart(NYSE:CUBE), Monogram Residential Trust, In(NYSE:MORE), Public Storage(NYSE:PSA), Sovran Self Storage Inc.(NYSE:SSS), Pebblebrook Hotel Trust(NYSE:PEB), Sabra Health Care REIT, Inc.(NasdaqGS:SBRA), SEC, Fast Graphs

Disclaimer: This is not a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. The highest-yield stocks are not necessarily the best portfolio investment choice. The purpose of this report — which is essentially a snapshot of information available on February 19, 2016 — is to reduce your stock analysis by enabling you to compare stock and sector performance. Please do your own due diligence before making any investment decision.

As of January 31, 2016, the equity REITs are constituent companies of the FTSE NAREIT All REITs Index. Companies whose equity market capitalization is lower than $100 million have been disregarded.

This report 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. 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.

Is the self-storage sector moving toward consolidation? (Part 2/2)

Click here if you have not read part 1.

So, which companies have the potential to alter the self-storage landscape? Let’s look at the options.

National Storage Affiliates

chart03

National Storage Affiliates is a REIT that was achieved by combining a variety of smaller companies to achieve better access to funding and lower corporate costs. As a result, the small companies received the benefits of larger companies, while retaining management of their original properties. It started with six affiliates (known as PROs) has become the sixth largest self-storage operator in the country. Their 2014 national ranking (with the exception of SecurCare) include: Northwest (16th), Optivest Properties (21st), Storage Solutions (29th), Move It (34th), Guardian Storage Centers (36th), and SecurCare (6th in 2013).

Today, National Storage anticipates adding more affiliates, which should act as an industry catalyzer.

Privately Owned Companies

chart05chart04

Two private companies, Simply Self Storage (founded in 2003 with headquarters in Orlando, FL) and StorageMart (founded by Gordon Durnam after selling his previous company, Storage Trust, to Public Storage in 1999) have the potential to alter industry dynamics. Currently, Simply Self Storage operate more than 160 facilities with over 12 million square feet of rentable space, while StorageMart operates 165 stores in Canada and the United States and has 11 million rentable square feet.

 

W.P. Carey

chart06

Self-storage only accounts for 5% of W.P. Carey’s annualized base rent (ABR), yet they are still one of the top 10 self-storage operators in the US. With 3.5 million square feet of rentable space, they generate an ABR of $32 million. They have only one tenant, U-Haul Moving Partners and Mercury Partners, which makes them the second largest W.P. Carey tenant.

chart07

Currently, W.P. Carey has an 88% interest in this venture and also operates industrial, office, retail, and warehouse space, which contribute greatly to their total revenue. Self-storage is a component of the company’s strategy to be diversified across different types of property.

U-Haul International

The shareholders of Amerco (U-Haul International’s parent company) decided not to pursue the conversion of its real estate assets into a REIT platform at their annual meeting in August 2015. As a result, it doesn’t appear that they will be repositioning the company in the short term.

 

Source: Public Storage (NYSE:PSA), Extra Space Storage, Inc. (NYSE:EXR), CubeSmart Common Shares (NYSE:CUBE), Sovran Self Storage Inc. (NYSE:SSS), National Storage Affiliates Trust (NYSE:NSA), Amerco (NASDAQ:UHAL), W.P. Carey, Inc. (NYSE:WPC).

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.

Is the self-storage sector moving toward consolidation? (Part 1/2)

chart01

In the United States, there are more than 50,000 self-storage facilities and 30,000 operators that account for $24 billion in annual revenue. While around 11% of the industry’s total rentable square footage are self-storage REITs, the other 89% are privately owned and run by operators. Although these statistics indicate that there is significant potential for consolidation in this profitable industry, it remains to be seen whether or not this will actually take place.

In all honesty, it will take considerable effort to make any changes in the industry. Outside of the ten leading operators, there is no single operator with the power to make big changes in the industry’s landscape. Any that do attempt growth will have to do so a little bit at a time through development or the acquisition of smaller players.

chart02Currently, Public Storage, a $43 billion market cap company, is in the industry’s top spot as the largest company. In the United States and Europe, they operate 142 million net rentable square feet of real estate. No other company is anywhere near this. Public Storage has aggressively gobbled up private operators, but, in recent years, due to increasing acquisition competition, they have ramped up a development process. Even if the remaining REITs combine together, they would have no chance of overcoming Public Storage.

In second, Extra Space Storage has an $11 billion market cap with 87 million square feet of rentable space. In September 2015, Extra Space Storage closed on the acquisition of SmartStop Self Storage, which had been the 7th largest operator in the industry, for $1.4 billion USD.

Additional players in the self-storage sector include REITs CubeSmart, Sovran, and W.P. Carey (minority self-storage), as well as recently publicly traded REIT National Storage Affiliates, Amerco (the publicly traded company that operates U-Haul International), and two additional private operators, Simply Self Storage and StorageMart.

So, which companies have the potential to alter the self-storage landscape? Let’s look at the options tomorrow.

Source: Public Storage (NYSE:PSA), Extra Space Storage, Inc. (NYSE:EXR), CubeSmart Common Shares (NYSE:CUBE), Sovran Self Storage Inc. (NYSE:SSS), National Storage Affiliates Trust (NYSE:NSA), Amerco (NASDAQ:UHAL), W.P. Carey, Inc. (NYSE:WPC).

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.

Does CubeSmart suffer from middle child syndrome with reason? (Series 4 of 5)

girl-516341_1280

As a middle child, it can often be difficult to get attention, especially as the third in a family of four children. The first typically gets more attention as there were not any siblings around vying for attention and the last gets coddling.

Does it get better if it changes its name to a tricky one?

That’s how I feel about CubeSmart (NYSE:CUBE). As of March 31, 2015, the Company’s market capitalization is US$3.9 billion. This is slightly higher than Sovran Self Storage, but not as high as Extra Space’s and Public Storage’s. However, that doesn’t mean CubeSmart’s not a quality company. It is a solid company that has strategically grown, which is ideal for a dividend growth investor.

Previously known as U-Store-It Trust, it changed its name to CubeSmart in 2011 to enjoy the branding benefits of joining the “big names” club, especially in a highly fragmented industry where customer service is a big differentiator. Furthermore, it takes pride for having re-positioned the portfolio, moving away from slow growth and less population, into high growth and more populated core markets such as New York, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. The result is a high quality, urban-oriented portfolio, which tends towards millennials who live in tight blocks and boomers who downsize to smaller homes.

As the portfolio changed, average occupancy increased from mid-seventy to ninety percent. Currently it is at an all-time high. Additionally, it has positioned itself in the highest income household neighborhoods versus its peers.

Since 2011, CubeSmart has checked all the following boxes:

  • 2-digit total revenue growth
  • 2-digit FFO growth rate
  • 2-digit dividend growth
  • Conservative dividend payout ratio
  • 6 percent average same store revenue growth
  • 8 percent average net operating income growth

2015 Projected Growth Rates 

  • 7 percent net operating income growth
  • 6 percent same store revenue growth
  • 4 percent FFO growth
  • 6 percent dividend

CubeSmart’s debt profile has improved over time and is currently on par with its peers. Nonetheless, the average interest rate of 4.0 percent is relatively high; Sovran’s is 3.7 and Extra Storage’s is 3.4 percent. Public Storage’s debt is less than one percent of its total market capitalization. The average maturity is six years. Most debt is fixed-rate and unsecured. The Company has mid-tier, investment-grade credit ratings from both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s.

Although CubeSmart has seen capitalization rates of quality acquisitions decrease to approximately five percent, it has kept a good pace of acquisitions. Over the last three years, it has added 3.9, 1.5, and 2.6 million square feet to existing properties (2014, 2013 and 2012 respectively). As of December 31, 2014, the 421 owned self-storage facilities encompassed an aggregate of approximately 28.6 million rentable square feet.

Signup button

Valuation wise, price-to-FFO is on par with the last four year’s year-end price-to-FFO mean, as well as the sector’s mean. The dividend yield is acceptable at 2.8 percent.

The Company will release Q1 2015 financials after the market close on Thursday, April 30, 2015.

Takeaway

Although I like the growth story, there doesn’t seem to be much appreciation upside and the dividend yield is just okay. The middle child will have to do more to excel.

Summary

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015P*
Dividends declared per common share, $ 0.29 0.35 0.46 0.55 0.64
Q4 Dividend, $ 0.08 0.11 0.13 0.16
Dividend payout ratio, in percent 45 47 51 51
Dividend yield, in percent 2.7 2.4 2.9 2.5
FFO per share, $ 0.56 0.71 0.87 1.03 1.17
FFO per share (Q4 only), $ 0.09 0.21 0.21 0.26
AFFO per share, $ 0.65 0.74 0.91 1.08
Debt to total capitalization, in percent 37.3 33.3 32.8 23.8
Revenues – Total, $ 000s 227,245 266,322 318,395 376,963
Revenues – Same Store, in percent 3.6 3.8 7.4 7.2 5.5
NOI – Same Store, in percent 5.7 6.0 9.3 9.6 6.5
Year End Occupancy – Same Store, in percent 79.1 85.1 88.8 90.0
Share Price on 31 December, $ 10.64 14.57 15.94 22.07 23.12
P/FFO on 31 December 19.0 20.5 18.3 21.4 19.8
 *2015P=2015 Projection

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.​