Public Storage Earnings Call Nuggets: Same-Store Expenses and Public Storage Rates

Public Storage (NYSE:PSA) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Same-Store Expenses

Gaurav Mehta – Cantor Fitzgerald: A question on your expenses. If you look at your same-store expenses, your expenses have been going down for last couple of years I guess. So when you look at your expenses today, do you think the 1Q reflects the long-term run rate for you guys, or you think there is more expense savings ahead?

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Ronald L. Havner, Jr. – Chairman, CEO and President: This is Ron. I think we tell people long-term you should assume a 3% to 4% expense increase, longer term. I think what we’ve benefited from the last couple of years and in particular Q1 again is lower advertising, media costs, lower yellow page cost. As I touched on earlier, we expect Q2 expenses in that area to also be lower. The other big swing items were repairs and maintenance, and if you call in Q1 of 2012 we had a big surge in R&M and so we kind of got easier comps this quarter versus last year, that was partially offset by snow removal cost in Q1 and you should expect to see an uptick in snow removal cost in Q2 offset by somewhat lower core R&M expenses.

Gaurav Mehta – Cantor Fitzgerald: One follow-up question. In your prepared remarks you touched upon the markets that outperformed. Could you also talk about the markets that did not meet your expectations?

Ronald L. Havner, Jr. – Chairman, CEO and President: Yeah, the two that come to mind are the D.C., Northern Virginia markets, which I think the growth is 2% to 3% and Philadelphia is about 1.5%.

Public Storage Rates

Todd Thomas – KeyBanc Capital Markets: Ron, over the last year as I believe Public Storage attempted to raise rates to new customers during each of the last couple of cycles, but the pricing power wasn’t really there as the industry as a whole was filling up a bit, but seems like the industry now and the other storage REITs are more stabilized from an occupancy perspective. So I was just wondering based on what you are seeing if you think that the industry sort of on a broad level would be able to sustain increases in asking rental seasonal and since where maybe half way through May, maybe you can just shed some light on what you’re seeing so far?

John Reyes – SVP and CFO: Hey Todd, this is John actually, not Ron. Right now our street rates are about flat year-over-year, which is consistent with kind of your comment about what we’ve been talking about over the past conference calls. With our occupancy as high as they are, we are certainly going to try to push our street rates as we move into further into May and into June. So, we’ll test those waters again to the extent that they stick and our occupancy stick. We’ll certainly be happy with that, but to the extent that we start losing occupancy, we will probably backtrack off of that. So, we haven’t started doing it, but plan on doing it fairly soon and we’ll see how it goes.

Todd Thomas – KeyBanc Capital Markets: Okay and then just second question, I was just curious within Stuttgart, Europe, what the strategy is like there with demand declining a bit. You know, occupancy was lower year-over-year, but realized rates were higher and I’m just curious if you could talk about the strategy to stabilize operations in Europe a bit?

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Ronald L. Havner, Jr. – Chairman, CEO and President: The big laggard for us in Europe continues to be Holland, which is one of our larger markets we’ve got in the same-store group, 30 properties out of 163, so about 20% of the same-store properties, and that – the same-store group is down to 70% occupancy. We’ve done some experimenting there with some pretty aggressive rate reductions and in fact we’ve got a test going on right now with what I would call draconian rate reductions to see if we can stimulate demand for our product. So, that’s big one that’s influencing really the drag there on the same-store property.

A Closer Look: Public Storage Earnings Cheat Sheet>>