If the attic or garage are packed, Public Storage can help. The real estate investment trust (REIT), is one of the largest self-storage companies in the US. It operates more than 2,000 storage facilities comprising some 130 million sq. ft. of storage space in the US and another 189 facilities in Europe (through its Shurgard Europe affiliate). The firm's self-storage properties, located in densely populated areas, generate more than 90% of the company's sales. Public Storage, which was founded in 1980, also rents trucks, and sells moving supplies such as locks, boxes, and packing supplies. It also owns about 40% of publicly traded PS Business Parks, an office building REIT.
California-based Public Storage operates self-storage facilities in 38 US states. California, Texas, and Florida are its largest markets. Its domestic self-storage facilities generated 93% of the company's revenue in 2012. Public Storage also owns a 49% stake in Shurgard Europe, which operates about 190 units in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK.
In addition to rental income on its storage facilities, the company sells tenant reinsurance (on policies issued through non-affiliated insurance companies) against losses and merchandise (locks, boxes, packing supplies), which together account for about 7% of total sales.
The company's self-storage business has proven to be rather resilient during the economic recession and now during the recovery. Sales climbed 4% in 2012 versus 2011, while net income was up 14% over the same period. The addition of about 75 self-storage facilities since 2010, and increased insurance and merchandise sales (up 8% in 2012 versus 2011), have helped fuel sales. Indeed, the $1.8 billion in 2012 sales was an all-time high for the company and marked the the third consecutive year of rising sales and cash flow. and second straight year of increasing profits.
Public Storage held off on making many new acquisitions during the recession and it curtailed its real estate development activities. However, in 2010 and 2011 the company began buying properties once again. In the past three years, Public Storage bought more than 75 new properties mostly in California but also in Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, New Jersey, Ohio, and Louisiana. Going forward, the company has plans to add approximately $1.3 million net rentable square feet of self-storage space. To that end, in June 2013 the company broke ground its largest self-storage facility in the Bronx, New York. The new 12-story facility will have more than 4,000 units.
In Europe Public Storage owns 49% of Shurgard Europe. In 2011 Shurgard Europe acquired the remaining 80% interest it already didn't own in two joint ventures. The deal gave Shurgard full ownership in 72 self-storage facilities in seven countries. While the company expected big opportunities for growth in the European self-storage industry, prospects for growth were stunted in 2011 as the continent struggled with an economic downturn.
Former chairman and co-founder Wayne Hughes and his family own about 16% of Public Storage.