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Section 1: 10-K (10-K)

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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, DC 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2016

 

OR

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the transition period from            to

 

Commission file number 001-32324 (CubeSmart)

Commission file number 000-54462 (CubeSmart, L.P.)

 

CUBESMART

CUBESMART, L.P.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)

 

Maryland (CubeSmart)

 

20-1024732 (CubeSmart)

Delaware (CubeSmart, L.P.)

 

34-1837021 (CubeSmart, L.P.)

(State or Other Jurisdiction of

 

(IRS Employer

Incorporation or Organization)

 

Identification No.)

 

 

 

5 Old Lancaster Road

 

19355

Malvern, Pennsylvania

 

(Zip Code)

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

 

 

 

 

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code (610) 535-5000

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Shares, $0.01 par value per share, of CubeSmart

 

New York Stock Exchange

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:  Units of General Partnership Interest of CubeSmart, L.P.

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.

 

CubeSmart

Yes ☒ No ☐

CubeSmart, L.P.

Yes ☒ No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.

 

CubeSmart

Yes ☐ No ☒

CubeSmart, L.P.

Yes ☐ No ☒

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.

 

CubeSmart

Yes ☒ No ☐

CubeSmart, L.P.

Yes ☒ No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).

 

CubeSmart

Yes ☒ No ☐

CubeSmart, L.P.

Yes ☒ No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.

 

CubeSmart

Yes ☒ No ☐

CubeSmart, L.P.

Yes ☒ No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or a smaller reporting company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act:

 

CubeSmart:

 

 

 

Large accelerated filer ☒

Accelerated filer ☐

Non-accelerated filer ☐

Smaller reporting company ☐

 

CubeSmart, L.P.:

 

 

 

Large accelerated filer ☐

Accelerated filer ☐

Non-accelerated filer ☒

Smaller reporting company ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).

 

CubeSmart

Yes ☐ No ☒

CubeSmart, L.P.

Yes ☐ No ☒

 

As of June 30, 2016, the last business day of CubeSmart’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, the aggregate market value of common shares held by non-affiliates of CubeSmart was $5,504,356,819. As of February 15, 2017, the number of common shares of CubeSmart outstanding was 180,171,863.

 

As of June 30, 2016, the last business day of CubeSmart, L.P.’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, the aggregate market value of the 2,220,874 units of limited partnership (the “OP Units”) held by non-affiliates of CubeSmart, L.P. was $68,580,589 based upon the last reported sale price of $30.88 per share on the New York Stock Exchange on June 30, 2016 of the common shares of CubeSmart, the sole general partner of CubeSmart, L.P. (For this computation, the market value of all OP Units beneficially owned by CubeSmart has been excluded.)

 

Documents incorporated by reference:  Portions of the Proxy Statement for the 2017 Annual Meeting of Shareholders of CubeSmart to be filed subsequently with the SEC are incorporated by reference into Part III of this report.

 

 

 


 

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EXPLANATORY NOTE

 

This report combines the annual reports on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2016 of CubeSmart (the “Parent Company” or “CubeSmart”) and CubeSmart, L.P. (the “Operating Partnership”). The Parent Company is a Maryland real estate investment trust, or REIT, that owns its assets and conducts its operations through the Operating Partnership, a Delaware limited partnership, and subsidiaries of the Operating Partnership. The Parent Company, the Operating Partnership and their consolidated subsidiaries are collectively referred to in this report as the “Company”. In addition, terms such as “we”, “us”, or “our” used in this report may refer to the Company, the Parent Company, and/or the Operating Partnership.

 

The Parent Company is the sole general partner of the Operating Partnership and, as of December 31, 2016, owned a 98.9% interest in the Operating Partnership. The remaining 1.1% interest consists of common units of limited partnership interest issued by the Operating Partnership to third parties in exchange for contributions of properties to the Operating Partnership. As the sole general partner of the Operating Partnership, the Parent Company has full and complete authority over the Operating Partnership’s day-to-day operations and management.

 

Management operates the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership as one enterprise. The management teams of the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership are identical, and their constituents are officers of both the Parent Company and of the Operating Partnership.

 

There are a few differences between the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership, which are reflected in the note disclosures in this report. The Company believes it is important to understand the differences between the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership in the context of how these entities operate as a consolidated enterprise. The Parent Company is a REIT, whose only material asset is its ownership of the partnership interests of the Operating Partnership.  As a result, the Parent Company does not conduct business itself, other than acting as the sole general partner of the Operating Partnership, issuing public equity from time to time and guaranteeing the debt obligations of the Operating Partnership. The Operating Partnership holds substantially all the assets of the Company and, directly or indirectly, holds the ownership interests in the Company’s real estate ventures. The Operating Partnership conducts the operations of the Company’s business and is structured as a partnership with no publicly traded equity. Except for net proceeds from equity issuances by the Parent Company, which are contributed to the Operating Partnership in exchange for partnership units, the Operating Partnership generates the capital required by the Company’s business through the Operating Partnership’s operations, by the Operating Partnership’s direct or indirect incurrence of indebtedness or through the issuance of partnership units of the Operating Partnership or equity interests in subsidiaries of the Operating Partnership.

 

The substantive difference between the Parent Company’s and the Operating Partnership’s filings is the fact that the Parent Company is a REIT with public equity, while the Operating Partnership is a partnership with no publicly traded equity. In the financial statements, this difference is primarily reflected in the equity (or capital for Operating Partnership) section of the consolidated balance sheets and in the consolidated statements of equity (or capital). Apart from the different equity treatment, the consolidated financial statements of the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership are nearly identical.

 

The Company believes that combining the annual reports on Form 10-K of the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership into a single report will:

 

·

facilitate a better understanding by the investors of the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership by enabling them to view the business as a whole in the same manner as management views and operates the business;

·

remove duplicative disclosures and provide a more straightforward presentation in light of the fact that a substantial portion of the disclosure applies to both the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership; and

·

create time and cost efficiencies through the preparation of one combined report instead of two separate reports.

 

In order to highlight the differences between the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership, the separate sections in this report for the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership specifically refer to the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership. In the sections that combine disclosures of the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership, this report refers to such disclosures as those of the Company. Although the Operating Partnership is generally the entity that directly or indirectly enters into contracts and real estate ventures and holds assets and debt, reference to the Company is appropriate because the business is one enterprise and the Parent Company operates the business through the Operating Partnership.

 

As general partner with control of the Operating Partnership, the Parent Company consolidates the Operating Partnership for financial reporting purposes, and the Parent Company does not have significant assets other than its investment in the Operating Partnership. Therefore, the assets and liabilities of the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership are the same on their respective financial

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statements. The separate discussions of the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership in this report should be read in conjunction with each other to understand the results of the Company’s operations on a consolidated basis and how management operates the Company.

 

This report also includes separate Item 9A - Controls and Procedures sections, signature pages and Exhibit 31 and 32 certifications for each of  the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership in order to establish that the Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Financial Officer of the Parent Company and the Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Financial Officer of the Operating Partnership have made the requisite certifications and that the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership are compliant with Rule 13a-15 or Rule 15d-15 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”) and 18 U.S.C. §1350.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

PART I 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1. 

 

Business

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1A. 

 

Risk Factors

 

12 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1B. 

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

24 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 2. 

 

Properties

 

24 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 3. 

 

Legal Proceedings

 

36 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 4. 

 

Mining Safety Disclosures

 

36 

 

 

 

 

 

PART II 

 

 

 

37 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 5. 

 

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Shareholder Matters, and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

37 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 6. 

 

Selected Financial Data

 

39 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 7. 

 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

44 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 7A. 

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

59 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 8. 

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

59 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9. 

 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

59 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9A. 

 

Controls and Procedures

 

60 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9B. 

 

Other Information

 

61 

 

 

 

 

 

PART III 

 

 

 

61 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 10. 

 

Trustees, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

61 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 11. 

 

Executive Compensation

 

61 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 12. 

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Shareholder Matters

 

61 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 13. 

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Trustee Independence

 

61 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 14. 

 

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

 

62 

 

 

 

 

 

PART IV 

 

 

 

62 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 15. 

 

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

 

62 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 16. 

 

Form 10-K Summary

 

67 

 

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PART I

 

Forward-Looking Statements

 

This Annual Report on Form 10-K, or this Report, together with other statements and information publicly disseminated by the Parent Company and the Operating Partnership, contain certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Exchange Act. Forward-looking statements include statements concerning the Company’s plans, objectives, goals, strategies, future events, future revenues or performance, capital expenditures, financing needs, plans or intentions relating to acquisitions and other information that is not historical information.  In some cases, forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as “believes”, “expects”, “estimates”, “may”, “will”, “should”, “anticipates”, or “intends” or the negative of such terms or other comparable terminology, or by discussions of strategy.  Such statements are based on assumptions and expectations that may not be realized and are inherently subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, many of which cannot be predicted with accuracy and some of which might not even be anticipated.  Although we believe the expectations reflected in these forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, future events and actual results, performance, transactions or achievements, financial and otherwise, may differ materially from the results, performance, transactions or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.  As a result, you should not rely on or construe any forward-looking statements in this Report, or which management may make orally or in writing from time to time, as predictions of future events or as guarantees of future performance.  We caution you not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this Report or as of the dates otherwise indicated in the statements.  All of our forward-looking statements, including those in this Report, are qualified in their entirety by this statement.

 

There are a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements contained in or contemplated by this Report.  Any forward-looking statements should be considered in light of the risks and uncertainties referred to in Item 1A. “Risk Factors” in this Report and in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).  These risks include, but are not limited to, the following:

 

·

national and local economic, business, real estate and other market conditions;

 

·

the competitive environment in which we operate, including our ability to maintain or raise occupancy and rental rates;

 

·

the execution of our business plan;

 

·

the availability of external sources of capital;

 

·

financing risks, including the risk of over-leverage and the corresponding risk of default on our mortgage and other debt and potential inability to refinance existing indebtedness;

 

·

increases in interest rates and operating costs;

 

·

counterparty non-performance related to the use of derivative financial instruments;

 

·

our ability to maintain our Parent Company’s qualification as a REIT for federal income tax purposes;

 

·

acquisition and development risks;

 

·

increases in taxes, fees, and assessments from state and local jurisdictions;

 

·

risks of investing through joint ventures;

 

·

changes in real estate and zoning laws or regulations;

 

·

risks related to natural disasters;

 

·

potential environmental and other liabilities;

 

·

other factors affecting the real estate industry generally or the self-storage industry in particular; and

 

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·

other risks identified in this Report and, from time to time, in other reports that we file with the SEC or in other documents that we publicly disseminate.

 

Given these uncertainties and the other risks identified elsewhere in this Report, we caution readers not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.  We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise except as may be required by securities laws.  Because of the factors referred to above, the future events discussed in or incorporated by reference in this Report may not occur and actual results, performance or achievement could differ materially from that anticipated or implied in the forward-looking statements.

 

ITEM 1.  BUSINESS

 

Overview

 

We are a self-administered and self-managed real estate company focused primarily on the ownership, operation, management, acquisition, and development of self-storage properties in the United States.

 

As of December 31, 2016, we owned 475 self-storage properties located in 23 states and in the District of Columbia containing an aggregate of approximately 32.9 million rentable square feet.  As of December 31, 2016, approximately 89.7% of the rentable square footage at our owned stores was leased to approximately 269,000 customers, and no single customer represented a significant concentration of our revenues.  As of December 31, 2016, we owned stores in the District of Columbia and the following 23 states:  Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.  In addition, as of December 31, 2016, we managed 316 stores for third parties (including 116 stores containing an aggregate of approximately 6.8 million rentable square feet as part of three separate unconsolidated real estate ventures) bringing the total number of stores we owned and/or managed to 791.   As of December 31, 2016, we managed stores for third parties in the following 26 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia.

 

Our self-storage properties are designed to offer affordable and easily-accessible storage space for our residential and commercial customers.  Our customers rent storage cubes for their exclusive use, typically on a month-to-month basis. Additionally, some of our stores offer outside storage areas for vehicles and boats.  Our stores are designed to accommodate both residential and commercial customers, with features such as wide aisles and load-bearing capabilities for large truck access.  All of our stores have a storage associate available to assist our customers during business hours, and 285, or approximately 60.0%, of our owned stores have a manager who resides in an apartment at the store.  Our customers can access their storage cubes during business hours, and some of our stores provide customers with 24-hour access through computer-controlled access systems.  Our goal is to provide customers with the highest standard of physical attributes and service in the industry. To that end, 401, or approximately 84.4%, of our owned stores include climate-controlled cubes.

 

The Parent Company was formed in July 2004 as a Maryland REIT.  The Parent Company owns its assets and conducts its business through the Operating Partnership, and its subsidiaries.  The Parent Company controls the Operating Partnership as its sole general partner and, as of December 31, 2016, owned an approximately 98.9% interest in the Operating Partnership.  The Operating Partnership was formed in July 2004 as a Delaware limited partnership and has been engaged in virtually all aspects of the self-storage business, including the development, acquisition, management, ownership and operation of self-storage properties.

 

Acquisition and Disposition Activity

 

As of December 31, 2016 and 2015, we owned 475 and 445 stores, respectively, that contained an aggregate of 32.9 million and 30.4 million rentable square feet with occupancy rates of 89.7% and 90.2%, respectively. A complete listing of, and additional information about, our stores is included in Item 2 of this Report.  The following is a summary of our 2016, 2015 and 2014 acquisition and disposition activity:

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Number of

    

Purchase / Sale Price

Asset/Portfolio

 

Market

 

Transaction Date

 

Stores

 

(in thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Acquisitions:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Metro DC Asset

 

Baltimore / DC

 

January 2016

 

1

 

$

21,000

Texas Assets

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

January 2016

 

2

 

 

24,800

New York Asset

 

New York / Northern NJ

 

January 2016

 

1

 

 

48,500

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

January 2016

 

1

 

 

11,600

Connecticut Asset

 

Connecticut

 

February 2016

 

1

 

 

19,000

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

March 2016

 

1

 

 

11,600

Florida Assets

 

Florida Markets - Other

 

March 2016

 

3

 

 

47,925

Colorado Asset

 

Denver

 

April 2016

 

1

 

 

11,350

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

April 2016

 

1

 

 

11,600

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

May 2016

 

1

 

 

10,100

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

May 2016

 

1

 

 

10,800

Illinois Asset

 

Chicago

 

May 2016

 

1

 

 

12,350

Illinois Asset

 

Chicago

 

May 2016

 

1

 

 

16,000

Massachusetts Asset

 

Massachusetts

 

June 2016

 

1

 

 

14,300

Nevada Assets

 

Las Vegas

 

July 2016

 

2

 

 

23,200

Arizona Asset

 

Phoenix

 

August 2016

 

1

 

 

14,525

Minnesota Asset

 

Minneapolis

 

August 2016

 

1

 

 

15,150

Colorado Asset

 

Denver

 

August 2016

 

1

 

 

15,600

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

September 2016

 

1

 

 

6,100

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

September 2016

 

1

 

 

5,300

Nevada Asset

 

Las Vegas

 

October 2016

 

1

 

 

13,250

North Carolina Asset

 

Charlotte

 

November 2016

 

1

 

 

10,600

Arizona Asset

 

Phoenix

 

November 2016

 

1

 

 

14,000

Nevada Asset

 

Las Vegas

 

December 2016

 

1

 

 

14,900

 

 

 

 

 

 

28

 

$

403,550

2015 Acquisitions:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

February 2015

 

1

 

$

7,295

HSRE Assets

 

Chicago

 

March 2015

 

4

 

 

27,500

Arizona Asset

 

Arizona / Las Vegas

 

March 2015

 

1

 

 

7,900

Tennessee Asset

 

Tennessee

 

March 2015

 

1

 

 

6,575

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

April 2015

 

1

 

 

15,795

Florida Asset

 

Florida Markets - Other

 

May 2015

 

1

 

 

7,300

Arizona Asset

 

Arizona / Las Vegas

 

June 2015

 

1

 

 

10,100

Florida Asset

 

Florida Markets - Other

 

June 2015

 

1

 

 

10,500

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

July 2015

 

1

 

 

14,200

Maryland Asset

 

Baltimore / DC

 

July 2015

 

1

 

 

17,000

Maryland Asset

 

Baltimore / DC

 

July 2015

 

1

 

 

19,200

New York/New Jersey Assets

 

New York / Northern NJ

 

August 2015

 

2

 

 

24,823

New Jersey Asset

 

New York / Northern NJ

 

December 2015

 

1

 

 

14,350

PSI Assets

 

Various (see note 4)

 

December 2015

 

12

 

 

109,824

 

 

 

 

 

 

29

 

$

292,362

2015 Dispositions:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Texas Assets

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

October 2015

 

7

 

$

28,000

Florida Asset

 

Florida Markets - Other

 

October 2015

 

1

 

 

9,800

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

 

$

37,800

2014 Acquisitions:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connecticut Asset

 

Connecticut

 

January 2014

 

1

 

$

4,950

Florida Asset

 

Miami / Ft. Lauderdale

 

January 2014

 

1

 

 

14,000

Florida Assets

 

Florida Markets - Other

 

January 2014

 

2

 

 

14,450

California Asset

 

Other West

 

January 2014

 

1

 

 

8,300

Maryland Asset

 

Baltimore / DC

 

February 2014

 

1

 

 

15,800

Maryland Asset

 

Baltimore / DC

 

February 2014

 

1

 

 

15,500

Arizona Asset

 

Arizona / Las Vegas

 

March 2014

 

1

 

 

14,750

Pennsylvania Asset

 

Philadelphia / Southern NJ

 

March 2014

 

1

 

 

7,350

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

March 2014

 

1

 

 

8,225

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

April 2014

 

1

 

 

6,450

New York Assets

 

New York / Northern NJ

 

April 2014

 

2

 

 

55,000

Florida Asset

 

Florida Markets - Other

 

April 2014

 

1

 

 

11,406

Massachusetts Asset

 

Other Northeast

 

April 2014

 

1

 

 

11,100

Indiana Asset

 

Other Midwest

 

May 2014

 

1

 

 

8,400

Florida Assets

 

Florida Markets - Other

 

June 2014

 

3

 

 

35,000

Florida Assets

 

Florida Markets - Other

 

July 2014

 

2

 

 

15,800

Massachusetts Asset

 

Boston

 

September 2014

 

1

 

 

23,100

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

October 2014

 

1

 

 

7,700

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

October 2014

 

1

 

 

8,500

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

October 2014

 

1

 

 

7,750

HSRE Assets

 

Various (see note 4)

 

November 2014

 

22

 

 

195,500

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

December 2014

 

1

 

 

18,650

Florida Assets

 

Florida Markets - Other

 

December 2014

 

3

 

 

18,200

New York Asset 

 

New York / Northern NJ

 

December 2014

 

1

 

 

38,000

Texas Asset

 

Texas Markets - Major

 

December 2014

 

1

 

 

4,345

 

 

 

 

 

 

53

 

$

568,226

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The comparability of our results of operations is affected by the timing of acquisition and disposition activities during the periods reported.  As of December 31, 2016, 2015, and 2014, we owned 475, 445, and 421 self-storage properties and related assets, respectively.  The following table summarizes the change in number of owned stores from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2016:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

2016

    

2015

    

2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance - January 1

 

445

 

421

 

366

 

Stores acquired

 

10

 

7

 

10

 

Stores developed

 

1

 

 —

 

2

 

Balance - March 31

 

456

 

428

 

378

 

Stores acquired

 

7

 

4

 

9

 

Stores developed

 

1

 

1

 

 —

 

Balance - June 30

 

464

 

433

 

387

 

Stores acquired

 

7

 

5

 

3

 

Balance - September 30

 

471

 

438

 

390

 

Stores acquired

 

4

 

13

 

31

 

Stores developed

 

 —

 

2

 

 —

 

Stores sold

 

 —

 

(8)

 

 —

 

Balance - December 31

 

475

 

445

 

421

 

 

Financing and Investing Activities

 

The following summarizes certain financing and investing activities during the year ended December 31, 2016:

 

·

Store Acquisitions.  During 2016, we acquired 28 self-storage properties located throughout the United States for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $403.6 million. In connection with these acquisitions, we allocated a portion of the purchase price paid for each store to the intangible value of in-place leases which aggregated to $18.8 million.

 

·

Development Activity.    During 2016, we completed construction and opened for operation two stores developed through two separate joint ventures. Both of the self-storage properties are located in New York. We invested a total of $64.0 million in the development of these two stores. Subsequent to the opening of the stores, the noncontrolling members put their 49% ownership interest in each venture to us. As of December 31, 2016, we had five joint venture development properties and two wholly-owned development properties under construction. We anticipate investing a total of $303.5 million related to these seven projects, and construction for all projects is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2018.

 

·

Development Commitments.  During 2016, we acquired three self-storage properties in New York (1) and Texas (2) for an aggregate purchase price of $69.4 million after the completion of construction and the issuance of the certificate of occupancy. During 2016, we also entered into contracts to purchase one store in Florida and one store in Illinois after the completion of construction and the issuance of the certificate of occupancy. As of December 31, 2016, we had four stores under contract, including two stores that went under contract in 2015, for a total acquisition price of $61.1 million.  These four acquisitions are subject to due diligence and other customary closing conditions and no assurance can be provided that these acquisitions will be completed on the terms described, or at all.

 

·

At-The-Market Equity Program.  During 2016, under our at-the-market equity program, we sold a total of 4.4 million common shares at an average sales price of $31.25 per share, resulting in net proceeds under the program of $136.1 million, after deducting offering costs. As of December 31, 2016, 5.8 million common shares remained available for sale under the program. The proceeds from the sales conducted during the year ended December 31, 2016 were used to fund acquisitions of self-storage properties and for general corporate purposes.

 

·

Preferred Share Redemption.  On November 2, 2016, we completed the redemption of all of our 3,100,000 outstanding shares of 7.75% Series A Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Shares at a cash redemption price of $25.00 per share plus accumulated and unpaid dividends. The redemption price of $77.5 million was paid by the Company from available cash balances.

 

·

Debt Offering.  On August 15, 2016, we completed the issuance and sale of $300.0 million in aggregate principal amount of unsecured senior notes due September 1, 2026 which bear interest at a rate of 3.125% per annum. Net proceeds from the

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offering were used to repay outstanding indebtedness under our Revolver (defined below) and for general corporate purposes, including acquisitions, investments in joint ventures, and repayment or repurchase of other indebtedness.

 

·

Mortgage Loans.  During 2016, we repaid five mortgage loans aggregating $34.9 million and assumed two mortgage loans with a combined outstanding principal balance of $38.5 million as of December 31, 2016.

 

Business Strategy

 

Our business strategy consists of several elements:

 

·

Maximize cash flow from our stores — Our operating strategy focuses on maximizing sustainable rents at our stores while achieving and sustaining occupancy targets.  We utilize our operating systems and experienced personnel to manage the balance between rental rates, discounts, and physical occupancy with an objective of maximizing our rental revenue.

 

·

Acquire stores within targeted markets — During 2017, we intend to pursue selective acquisitions in markets that we believe have high barriers to entry, strong demographic fundamentals, and demand for storage in excess of storage capacity.  We believe the self-storage industry will continue to afford us opportunities for growth through acquisitions due to the highly fragmented composition of the industry.  In the past, we have formed joint ventures with unaffiliated third parties, and in the future we may form additional joint ventures to facilitate the funding of future developments or acquisitions.

 

·

Dispose of stores — During 2017, we intend to continue to evaluate opportunities to reduce exposure in slower growth, lower barrier-to-entry markets.  We intend to use proceeds from these transactions to fund acquisitions within targeted markets.

 

·

Grow our third-party management business — We intend to pursue additional third-party management opportunities.  We intend to leverage our current platform to take advantage of consolidation in the industry.  We plan to utilize our relationships with third-party owners to help source future acquisitions.

 

Investment and Market Selection Process

 

We maintain a disciplined and focused process in the acquisition and development of self-storage properties.  Our investment committee, comprised of five senior officers and led by Christopher P. Marr, our Chief Executive Officer, oversees our investment process.  Our investment process involves six stages — identification, initial due diligence, economic assessment, investment committee approval (and when required, the approval of our Board of Trustees (the “Board”)), final due diligence, and documentation.  Through our investment committee, we intend to focus on the following criteria:

 

·

Targeted markets — Our targeted markets include areas where we currently maintain management that can be extended to additional stores, or where we believe that we can acquire a significant number of stores efficiently and within a short period of time.  We evaluate both the broader market and the immediate area, typically three miles around the store, for its ability to support above-average demographic growth.  We seek to increase our presence primarily in areas that we expect will experience growth, including the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic areas of the United States and areas within Georgia, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and California, and to enter additional markets should suitable opportunities arise.

 

·

Quality of store — We focus on self-storage properties that have good visibility and are located near retail centers, which typically provide high traffic corridors and are generally located near residential communities and commercial customers.

 

·

Growth potential — We target acquisitions that offer growth potential through increased operating efficiencies and, in some cases, through additional leasing efforts, renovations, or expansions.  In addition to acquiring single stores, we seek to invest in portfolio acquisitions, including those offering significant potential for increased operating efficiency and the ability to spread our fixed costs across a large base of stores.

 

Segment

 

We have one reportable segment:  we own, operate, develop, manage, and acquire self-storage properties.

 

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Concentration

 

Our self-storage properties are located in major metropolitan areas as well as suburban areas and have numerous customers per store.  No single customer represented a significant concentration of our 2016 revenues.  Our stores in Florida, New York, Texas, and California provided approximately 17%, 16%, 10% and 8%, respectively, of our total 2016 revenues and approximately 18%, 16%, 10% and 8%, respectively, of our total 2015 revenues.

 

Seasonality

 

We typically experience seasonal fluctuations in occupancy levels at our stores, with the levels generally slightly higher during the summer months due to increased moving activity.

 

Financing Strategy

 

We maintain a capital structure that we believe is reasonable and prudent and that will enable us to have ample cash flow to cover debt service and make distributions to our shareholders.  As of December 31, 2016, our debt to total capitalization ratio (determined by dividing the carrying value of our total indebtedness by the sum of (a) the market value of the Parent Company’s outstanding common shares, preferred shares and units of the Operating Partnership held by third parties and (b) the carrying value of our total indebtedness) was approximately 24.7% compared to approximately 18.5% as of December 31, 2015.  Our ratio of debt to the undepreciated cost of our total assets as of December 31, 2016 was approximately 38.5% compared to approximately 33.8% as of December 31, 2015.  We expect to finance additional investments in self-storage properties through the most attractive sources of capital available at the time of the transaction, in a manner consistent with maintaining a strong financial position and future financial flexibility, subject to limitations on incurrence of indebtedness in our unsecured credit facilities and the indenture that governs our unsecured notes.  These capital sources may include existing cash, borrowings under the Revolver, additional secured or unsecured financings, sales of common or preferred shares of the Parent Company in public offerings or private placements, additional issuances of debt securities, issuances of common or preferred units in our Operating Partnership in exchange for contributed properties, and formations of joint ventures.  We also may sell stores that we no longer view as core assets and use the sales proceeds to fund other acquisitions.

 

Competition

 

Self-storage properties compete based on a number of factors, including location, rental rates, security, suitability of the store’s design to prospective customers’ needs, and the manner in which the store is operated and marketed.  In particular, the number of competing self-storage properties in a market could have a material effect on our occupancy levels, rental rates and on the overall operating performance of our stores.  We believe that the primary competition for potential customers of any of our self-storage properties comes from other self-storage properties within a three-mile radius of that store.  We believe our stores are well-positioned within their respective markets, and we emphasize customer service, convenience, security, professionalism, and cleanliness.

 

Our key competitors include local and regional operators as well as the other public self-storage REITS, including Public Storage, Extra Space Storage Inc., and Life Storage, Inc.  These companies, some of which operate significantly more stores than we do and have greater resources than we have, and other entities may be able to accept more risk than we determine is prudent for us, including risks with respect to the geographic proximity of investments and the payment of higher acquisition prices.  This competition may reduce the number of suitable acquisition opportunities available to us, increase the price required to acquire stores, and reduce the demand for self-storage space at our stores.  Nevertheless, we believe that our experience in operating, managing, acquiring, developing, and obtaining financing for self-storage properties should enable us to compete effectively.

 

Government Regulation

 

We are subject to various laws, ordinances and regulations, including regulations relating to lien sale rights and procedures and various federal, state, and local regulations that apply generally to the ownership of real property and the operation of self-storage properties.

 

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and applicable state accessibility act laws (collectively, the “ADA”), all places of public accommodation are required to meet federal requirements related to physical access and use by disabled persons.  A number of other federal, state, and local laws may also impose access and other similar requirements at our stores.  A failure to comply with the ADA or similar state or local requirements could result in the governmental imposition of fines or the award of damages to private litigants affected by the noncompliance.  Although we believe that our stores comply in all material respects with these requirements (or would be eligible for applicable exemptions from material requirements because of adaptive assistance provided), a determination that one or more

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of our stores is not in compliance with the ADA or similar state or local requirements would result in the incurrence of additional costs associated with bringing the stores into compliance.

 

Under various federal, state, and local laws, ordinances and regulations, an owner or operator of real property may become liable for the costs of removal or remediation of hazardous substances released on or in its property.  These laws often impose liability without regard to whether the owner or operator knew of, or was responsible for, the release of such hazardous substances.  The presence of hazardous substances, or the failure to properly remediate such substances, when released, may adversely affect the property owner’s ability to sell the real estate or to borrow using the real estate as collateral, and may cause the property owner to incur substantial remediation costs.  In addition to claims for cleanup costs, the presence of hazardous substances on a property could result in a claim by a private party for personal injury or a claim by an adjacent property owner or user for property damage.  We may also become liable for the costs of removal or remediation of hazardous substances stored at the properties by a customer even though storage of hazardous substances would be without our knowledge or approval and in violation of the customer’s storage lease agreement with us.

 

Our practice is to conduct or obtain environmental assessments in connection with the acquisition or development of properties.  Whenever the environmental assessment for one of our stores indicates that a store is impacted by soil or groundwater contamination from prior owners/operators or other sources, we work with our environmental consultants and, where appropriate, state governmental agencies, to ensure that the store is either cleaned up, that no cleanup is necessary because the low level of contamination poses no significant risk to public health or the environment, or that the responsibility for cleanup rests with a third party.  In certain cases, we have purchased environmental liability insurance coverage to indemnify us against claims for contamination or other adverse environmental conditions that may affect a property.

 

We are not aware of any environmental cleanup liability that we believe will have a material adverse effect on us.  We cannot provide assurance, however, that these environmental assessments and investigations have revealed or will reveal all potential environmental liabilities, that no prior owner created any material environmental condition not known to us or the independent consultant or that future events or changes in environmental laws will not result in the imposition of environmental liability on us.

 

We have not received notice from any governmental authority of any material noncompliance, claim, or liability in connection with any of our stores, nor have we been notified of a claim for personal injury or property damage by a private party in connection with any of our stores relating to environmental conditions.

 

We are not aware of any environmental condition with respect to any of our stores that could reasonably be expected to have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations, and we do not expect that the cost of compliance with environmental regulations will have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations.  We cannot provide assurance, however, that this will continue to be the case.

 

Insurance

 

We carry comprehensive liability, fire, extended coverage, and rental loss insurance covering all of the properties in our portfolio.  We carry environmental insurance coverage on certain stores in our portfolio.  We believe the policy specifications and insured limits are appropriate and adequate given the relative risk of loss, the cost of the coverage, and industry practice.  We do not carry insurance for losses such as loss from riots, war or acts of God, and, in some cases, flood and environmental hazards, because such coverage is either not available or not available at commercially reasonable rates.  Some of our policies, such as those covering losses due to terrorist activities, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes, are insured subject to limitations involving large deductibles or co-payments and policy limits that may not be sufficient to cover losses.  We also carry liability insurance to insure against personal injuries that might be sustained at our stores as well as director and officer liability insurance.

 

Offices

 

Our principal executive offices are located at 5 Old Lancaster Road, Malvern, PA 19355.  Our telephone number is (610) 535-5000.

 

Employees

 

As of December 31, 2016, we employed 2,136 employees, of whom 292 were corporate executive and administrative personnel and 1,844 were property-level personnel.  We believe that our relations with our employees are good.  Our employees are not unionized.

 

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Available Information

 

We file registration statements, proxy statements, our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports, with the SEC.  You may obtain copies of these documents by visiting the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549, by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330, or by accessing the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.  Our internet website address is www.cubesmart.com.  You also can obtain on our website, free of charge, copies of our annual report on Form 10-K, our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, our current reports on Form 8-K, and any amendments to those reports, after we electronically file such reports or amendments with, or furnish them to, the SEC.  Our internet website and the information contained therein or connected thereto are not intended to be incorporated by reference into this Report.

 

Also available on our website, free of charge, are copies of our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, our Corporate Governance Guidelines, and the charters for each of the committees of our Board — the Audit Committee, the Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee, and the Compensation Committee.  Copies of each of these documents are also available in print free of charge, upon request by any shareholder.  You can obtain copies of these documents by contacting Investor Relations by mail at 5 Old Lancaster Road, Malvern, PA 19355.

 

ITEM 1A.  RISK FACTORS

 

Overview

 

An investment in our securities involves various risks.  Investors should carefully consider the risks set forth below together with other information contained in this Report. These risks are not the only ones that we may face. Additional risks not presently known to us, or that we currently consider immaterial, may also impair our business, financial condition, operating results, and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

 

Risks Related to our Business and Operations

 

Adverse macroeconomic and business conditions may significantly and negatively affect our rental rates, occupancy levels and therefore our results of operations.

 

We are susceptible to the effects of adverse macro-economic events that can result in higher unemployment, shrinking demand for products, large-scale business failures and tight credit markets.  Our results of operations are sensitive to changes in overall economic conditions that impact consumer spending, including discretionary spending, as well as to increased bad debts due to recessionary pressures.  Adverse economic conditions affecting disposable consumer income, such as employment levels, business conditions, interest rates, tax rates, and fuel and energy costs, could reduce consumer spending or cause consumers to shift their spending to other products and services.  A general reduction in the level of discretionary spending or shifts in consumer discretionary spending could adversely affect our growth and profitability.

 

It is difficult to determine the breadth and duration of the economic and financial market disruptions and the many ways in which they may affect our customers and our business in general.  Nonetheless, continuation or further worsening of these difficult financial and macroeconomic conditions could have a significant adverse effect on our sales, profitability, and results of operations.

 

Many states and local jurisdictions are facing severe budgetary problems which may have an adverse impact on our business and financial results.

 

Many states and jurisdictions are facing severe budgetary problems.  Action that may be taken in response to these problems, such as increases in property taxes on commercial properties, changes to sales taxes or other governmental efforts, including mandating medical insurance for employees, could adversely impact our business and results of operations.

 

Our financial performance is dependent upon economic and other conditions of the markets in which our stores are located.

 

We are susceptible to adverse developments in the markets in which we operate, such as business layoffs or downsizing, industry slowdowns, relocations of businesses, changing demographics, and other factors.  Our stores in Florida, New York, Texas, and California accounted for approximately 17%, 16%, 10% and 8%, respectively, of our total 2016 revenues.  As a result of this geographic concentration of our stores, we are particularly susceptible to adverse market conditions in these areas.  Any adverse economic or real estate developments in these markets, or in any of the other markets in which we operate, or any decrease in demand for self-storage space

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resulting from the local business climate, could adversely affect our rental revenues, which could impair our ability to satisfy our debt service obligations and pay distributions to our shareholders.

 

We face risks associated with property acquisitions.

 

We intend to continue to acquire individual and portfolios of self-storage properties. The purchase agreements that we enter into in connection with acquisitions typically contain closing conditions that need to be satisfied before the acquisitions can be consummated. The satisfaction of many of these conditions is outside of our control, and we therefore cannot assure you that any of our pending or future acquisitions will be consummated. These conditions include, among other things, satisfactory examination of the title to the properties, the ability to obtain title insurance and customary closing conditions.  Moreover, in the event we are unable to complete pending or future acquisitions, we may have incurred significant legal, accounting, and other transaction costs in connection with such acquisitions without realizing the expected benefits.

 

Those acquisitions that we do consummate would increase our size and may potentially alter our capital structure.  Although we believe that future acquisitions that we complete will enhance our financial performance, the success of acquisitions is subject to the risks that:

 

·

acquisitions may fail to perform as expected;

 

·

the actual costs of repositioning or redeveloping acquired properties may be higher than our estimates;

 

·

we may be unable to obtain acquisition financing on favorable terms;

 

·

acquisitions may be located in new markets where we may have limited knowledge and understanding of the local economy, an absence of business relationships in the area or an unfamiliarity with local governmental and permitting procedures; and

 

·

there is only limited recourse, or no recourse, to the former owners of newly acquired properties for unknown or undisclosed liabilities such as the clean-up of undisclosed environmental contamination; claims by customers, vendors, or other persons arising on account of actions or omissions of the former owners of the properties; and claims by local governments, adjoining property owners, property owner associations, and easement holders for fees, assessments, or taxes on other property-related changes.  As a result, if a liability were asserted against us based upon ownership of an acquired property, we might be required to pay significant sums to settle it, which could adversely affect our financial results and cash flow.

 

In addition, we do not always obtain third-party appraisals of acquired properties (and instead rely on value determinations by our senior management) and the consideration we pay in exchange for those properties may exceed the value determined by third-party appraisals.

 

We will incur costs and will face integration challenges when we acquire additional stores.

 

As we acquire or develop additional self-storage properties, we will be subject to risks associated with integrating and managing new stores, including customer retention and mortgage default risks. In the case of a large portfolio purchase, we could experience strains in our existing information management capacity. In addition, acquisitions or developments may cause disruptions in our operations and divert management’s attention away from day-to-day operations.  Furthermore, our income may decline because we will be required to expense acquisition-related costs and amortize in future periods costs for acquired goodwill and other intangible assets.  Our failure to successfully integrate any future acquisitions into our portfolio could have an adverse effect on our operating costs and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

 

The acquisition of new stores that lack operating history with us will make it more difficult to predict revenue potential.

 

We intend to continue to acquire additional stores.  These acquisitions could fail to perform in accordance with expectations.  If we fail to accurately estimate occupancy levels, rental rates, operating costs, or costs of improvements to bring an acquired store up to the standards established for our intended market position, the performance of the store may be below expectations.  Acquired stores may have characteristics or deficiencies affecting their valuation or revenue potential that we have not yet discovered.  We cannot assure that the performance of stores acquired by us will increase or be maintained under our management.

 

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Our development activities may be more costly or difficult to complete than we anticipate.

 

We intend to continue to develop self-storage properties where market conditions warrant such investment.  Once made, these investments may not produce results in accordance with our expectations.  Risks associated with development and construction activities include:

 

·

the unavailability of favorable financing sources in the debt and equity markets;

 

·

construction cost overruns, including on account of rising interest rates, diminished availability of materials and labor, and increases in the costs of materials and labor;

 

·

construction delays and failure to achieve target occupancy levels and rental rates, resulting in a lower than projected return on our investment; and

 

·

complications (including building moratoriums and anti-growth legislation) in obtaining necessary zoning, occupancy, and other governmental permits.

 

We depend on external sources of capital that are outside of our control; the unavailability of capital from external sources could adversely affect our ability to acquire or develop stores, satisfy our debt obligations, and/or make distributions to shareholders.

 

We depend on external sources of capital to fund acquisitions and development, to satisfy our debt obligations and to make distributions to our shareholders required to maintain our status as a REIT, and these sources of capital may not be available on favorable terms, if at all.  Our access to external sources of capital depends on a number of factors, including the market’s perception of our growth potential and our current and potential future earnings and our ability to continue to qualify as a REIT for federal income tax purposes.  If we are unable to obtain external sources of capital, we may not be able to acquire or develop properties when strategic opportunities exist, satisfy our debt obligations or make distributions to shareholders that would permit us to qualify as a REIT or avoid paying tax on our REIT taxable income.

 

Rising operating expenses could reduce our cash flow and funds available for future distributions.

 

Our stores and any other stores we acquire or develop in the future are and will be subject to operating risks common to real estate in general, any or all of which may negatively affect us.  Our stores are subject to increases in operating expenses such as real estate and other taxes, personnel costs including the cost of providing specific medical coverage to our employees, utilities, insurance, administrative expenses, and costs for repairs and maintenance.  If operating expenses increase without a corresponding increase in revenues, our profitability could diminish and limit our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

 

We cannot assure our ability to pay dividends in the future.

 

Historically, we have paid quarterly distributions to our shareholders, and we intend to continue to pay quarterly dividends and to make distributions to our shareholders in amounts such that all or substantially all of our taxable income in each year, subject to certain adjustments, is distributed.  This, along with other factors, should enable us to continue to qualify for the tax benefits accorded to a REIT under the Internal Revenue Code.  We have not established a minimum dividends payment level, and all future distributions will be made at the discretion of our Board.  Our ability to pay dividends will depend upon, among other factors:

 

·

the operational and financial performance of our stores;

 

·

capital expenditures with respect to existing and newly acquired stores;

 

·

general and administrative costs associated with our operation as a publicly-held REIT;

 

·

maintenance of our REIT status;

 

·

the amount of, and the interest rates on, our debt;

 

·

the absence of significant expenditures relating to environmental and other regulatory matters; and

 

·

other risk factors described in this Report.

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Certain of these matters are beyond our control and any significant difference between our expectations and actual results could have a material adverse effect on our cash flow and our ability to make distributions to shareholders.

 

If we are unable to promptly re-let our cubes or if the rates upon such re-letting are significantly lower than expected, then our business and results of operations would be adversely affected.

 

We derive revenues principally from rents received from customers who rent cubes at our self-storage properties under month-to-month leases.  Any delay in re-letting cubes as vacancies arise would reduce our revenues and harm our operating results.  In addition, lower than expected rental rates upon re-letting could adversely affect our revenues and impede our growth.

 

Store ownership through joint ventures may limit our ability to act exclusively in our interest.

 

We have in the past co-invested with, and we may continue to co-invest with, third parties through joint ventures.  In any such joint venture, we may not be in a position to exercise sole decision-making authority regarding the stores owned through joint ventures. Investments in joint ventures may, under certain circumstances, involve risks not present when a third party is not involved, including the possibility that joint venture partners might become bankrupt or fail to fund their share of required capital contributions.  Joint venture partners may have business interests or goals that are inconsistent with our business interests or goals and may be in a position to take actions contrary to our policies or objectives.  Such investments also have the potential risk of impasse on strategic decisions, such as a sale, in cases where neither we nor the joint venture partner would have full control over the joint venture. In other circumstances, joint venture partners may have the ability without our agreement to make certain major decisions, including decisions about sales, capital expenditures, and/or financing.  Any disputes that may arise between us and our joint venture partners could result in litigation or arbitration that could increase our expenses and distract our officers and/or Trustees from focusing their time and effort on our business.  In addition, we might in certain circumstances be liable for the actions of our joint venture partners, and the activities of a joint venture could adversely affect our ability to qualify as a REIT, even though we do not control the joint venture.

 

We face significant competition for customers and acquisition and development opportunities.

 

Actions by our competitors may decrease or prevent increases of the occupancy and rental rates of our stores.  We compete with numerous developers, owners, and operators of self-storage properties, including other REITs, some of which own or may in the future own stores similar to ours in the same submarkets in which our stores are located and some of which may have greater capital resources.  In addition, due to the relatively low cost of each individual self-storage property, other developers, owners, and operators have the capability to build additional stores that may compete with our stores.

 

If our competitors build new stores that compete with our stores or offer space at rental rates below the rental rates we currently charge our customers, we may lose potential customers, and we may be pressured to reduce our rental rates below those we currently charge in order to retain customers when our customers’ leases expire.  As a result, our financial condition, cash flow, cash available for distribution, market price of our shares, and ability to satisfy our debt service obligations could be materially adversely affected.  In addition, increased competition for customers may require us to make capital improvements to our stores that we would not have otherwise made.  Any unbudgeted capital improvements we undertake may reduce cash available for distributions to our shareholders.

 

We also face significant competition for acquisitions and development opportunities.  Some of our competitors have greater financial resources than we do and a greater ability to borrow funds to acquire stores.  These competitors may also be willing to accept more risk than we can prudently manage, including risks with respect to the geographic proximity of investments and the payment of higher acquisition prices.  This competition for investments may reduce the number of suitable investment opportunities available to us, may increase acquisition costs and may reduce demand for self-storage space in certain areas where our stores are located and, as a result, adversely affect our operating results.

 

We may become subject to litigation or threatened litigation which may divert management’s time and attention, require us to pay damages and expenses, or restrict the operation of our business.

 

We may become subject to disputes with commercial parties with whom we maintain relationships or other parties with whom we do business.  Any such dispute could result in litigation between us and the other parties.  Whether or not any dispute actually proceeds to litigation, we may be required to devote significant management time and attention to its successful resolution (through litigation, settlement, or otherwise), which would detract from our management’s ability to focus on our business.  Any such resolution could involve the payment of damages or expenses by us, which may be significant.  In addition, any such resolution could involve our agreement with terms that restrict the operation of our business.

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There are other commercial parties, at both a local and national level, that may assert that our use of our brand names and other intellectual property conflict with their rights to use brand names, internet domains, and other intellectual property that they consider to be similar to ours.  Any such commercial dispute and related resolution would involve all of the risks described above, including, in particular, our agreement to restrict the use of our brand name or other intellectual property.

 

We also could be sued for personal injuries and/or property damage occurring on our properties.  We maintain liability insurance with limits that we believe adequate to provide for the defense and/or payment of any damages arising from such lawsuits.  There can be no assurance that such coverage will cover all costs and expenses from such suits.

 

Potential losses may not be covered by insurance, which could result in the loss of our investment in a property and the future cash flows from the property.

 

We carry comprehensive liability, fire, extended coverage, and rental loss insurance covering all of the properties in our portfolio.  We believe the policy specifications and insured limits are appropriate and adequate given the relative risk of loss, the cost of the coverage and industry practice.  We do not carry insurance for losses such as loss from riots, war or acts of God, and, in some cases, flooding and environmental hazards, because such coverage is not available or is not available at commercially reasonable rates.  Some of our policies, such as those covering losses due to terrorism, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes, are insured subject to limitations involving large deductibles or co-payments and policy limits that may not be sufficient to cover losses.  If we experience a loss at a store that is uninsured or that exceeds policy limits, we could lose the capital invested in that store as well as the anticipated future cash flows from that store.  Inflation, changes in building codes and ordinances, environmental considerations, and other factors also might make it impractical or undesirable to use insurance proceeds to replace a store after it has been damaged or destroyed.  In addition, if the damaged stores are subject to recourse indebtedness, we would continue to be liable for the indebtedness, even if these stores were irreparably damaged.

 

Our insurance coverage may not comply with certain loan requirements.

 

Certain of our stores serve as collateral for our mortgage-backed debt, some of which we assumed in connection with our acquisition of stores and requires us to maintain insurance at levels and on terms that are not commercially reasonable in the current insurance environment.  We may be unable to obtain required insurance coverage if the cost and/or availability make it impractical or impossible to comply with debt covenants.  If we cannot comply with a lender’s requirements, the lender could declare a default, which could affect our ability to obtain future financing and have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and cash flows and our ability to obtain future financing.  In addition, we may be required to self-insure against certain losses or our insurance costs may increase.

 

Potential liability for environmental contamination could result in substantial costs.

 

We are subject to federal, state and local environmental regulations that apply generally to the ownership of real property and the operation of self-storage properties.  If we fail to comply with those laws, we could be subject to significant fines or other governmental sanctions.

 

Under various federal, state and local laws, ordinances, and regulations, an owner or operator of real estate may be required to investigate and clean up hazardous or toxic substances or petroleum product releases at a property and may be held liable to a governmental entity or to third parties for property damage and for investigation and clean-up costs incurred by such parties in connection with contamination.  Such liability may be imposed whether or not the owner or operator knew of, or was responsible for, the presence of these hazardous or toxic substances.  The cost of investigation, remediation or removal of such substances may be substantial, and the presence of such substances, or the failure to properly remediate such substances, may adversely affect our ability to sell or rent such property or to borrow using such property as collateral.  In addition, in connection with the ownership, operation, and management of properties, we are potentially liable for property damage or injuries to persons and property.

 

Our practice is to conduct or obtain environmental assessments in connection with the acquisition or development of additional stores.  We carry environmental insurance coverage on certain stores in our portfolio.  We obtain or examine environmental assessments from qualified and reputable environmental consulting firms (and intend to conduct such assessments prior to the acquisition or development of additional stores).  The environmental assessments received to date have not revealed, nor do we have actual knowledge of, any environmental liability that we believe will have a material adverse effect on us.  However, we cannot assure that our environmental assessments have identified or will identify all material environmental conditions, that any prior owner of any property did not create a material environmental condition not actually known to us, or that a material environmental condition does not otherwise exist with respect to any of our properties.

 

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Americans with Disabilities Act and applicable state accessibility act compliance may require unanticipated expenditures.

 

Under the ADA, all places of public accommodation are required to meet federal requirements related to physical access and use by disabled persons.  A number of other federal, state and local laws may also impose access and other similar requirements at our properties.  A failure to comply with the ADA or similar state or local requirements could result in the governmental imposition of fines or the award of damages to private litigants affected by the noncompliance.  Although we believe that our properties comply in all material respects with these requirements (or would be eligible for applicable exemptions from material requirements because of adaptive assistance provided), a determination that one or more of our properties is not in compliance with the ADA or similar state or local requirements would result in the incurrence of additional costs associated with bringing the properties into compliance.  If we are required to make substantial modifications to comply with the ADA or similar state or local requirements, we may be required to incur significant unanticipated expenditures, which could have an adverse effect on our operating costs and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

 

Privacy concerns could result in regulatory changes that may harm our business.

 

Personal privacy has become a significant issue in the jurisdictions in which we operate.  Many jurisdictions in which we operate have imposed restrictions and requirements on the use of personal information by those collecting such information.  Changes to law or regulations affecting privacy, if applicable to our business, could impose additional costs and liability on us and could limit our use and disclosure of such information.

 

We face system security risks as we depend upon automated processes and the Internet.

 

We are increasingly dependent upon automated information technology processes and Internet commerce, and many of our new customers come from the telephone or over the Internet.  Moreover, the nature of our business involves the receipt and retention of personal information about our customers.  We also rely extensively on third-party vendors to retain data, process transactions and provide other systems and services.  These systems, and our systems, are subject to damage or interruption from power outages, computer and telecommunications failures, computer viruses, malware, and other destructive or disruptive security breaches and catastrophic events, such as a natural disaster or a terrorist event or cyber-attack.  In addition, experienced computer programmers and hackers may be able to penetrate our security systems and misappropriate our confidential information, create system disruptions, or cause shutdowns. Such data security breaches as well as system disruptions and shutdowns could result in additional costs to repair or replace such networks or information systems and possible legal liability, including government enforcement actions and private litigation.  In addition, our customers could lose confidence in our ability to protect their personal information, which could cause them to discontinue leasing at our self-storage properties. 

 

If we are unable to attract and retain team members or contract with third parties having the specialized skills or technologies needed to support our systems, implement improvements to our customer-facing technology in a timely manner, allow accurate visibility to product availability when customers are ready to rent, quickly and efficiently fulfill our customers rental and payment methods they demand, or provide a convienent and consistent experience for our customers regardless of the ultimate sales channel, our ability to compete and our results of operations could be adversely affected.

 

Terrorist attacks and other acts of violence or war may adversely impact our performance and may affect the markets on which our securities are traded.

 

Terrorist attacks against our stores, the United States or our interests, may negatively impact our operations and the value of our securities.  Attacks or armed conflicts could negatively impact the demand for self-storage and increase the cost of insurance coverage for our stores, which could reduce our profitability and cash flow.  Furthermore, any terrorist attacks or armed conflicts could result in increased volatility in or damage to the United States and worldwide financial markets and economy.

 

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Risks Related to the Real Estate Industry

 

Our performance and the value of our self-storage properties are subject to risks associated with our properties and with the real estate industry.

 

Our rental revenues and operating costs and the value of our real estate assets, and consequently the value of our securities, are subject to the risk that if our stores do not generate revenues sufficient to meet our operating expenses, including debt service and capital expenditures, our cash flow and ability to pay distributions to our shareholders will be adversely affected.  Events or conditions beyond our control that may adversely affect our operations or the value of our properties include but are not limited to:

 

·

downturns in the national, regional, and local economic climate;

 

·

local or regional oversupply, increased competition, or reduction in demand for self-storage space;

 

·

vacancies or changes in market rents for self-storage space;

 

·

inability to collect rent from customers;

 

·

increased operating costs, including maintenance, insurance premiums, and real estate taxes;

 

·

changes in interest rates and availability of financing;

 

·

hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters, civil disturbances, terrorist acts, or acts of war that may result in uninsured or underinsured losses;

 

·

significant expenditures associated with acquisitions and development projects, such as debt service payments, real estate taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs which are generally not reduced when circumstances cause a reduction in revenues from a property;

 

·

costs of complying with changes in laws and governmental regulations, including those governing usage, zoning, the environment, and taxes; and

 

·

the relative illiquidity of real estate investments.

 

In addition, prolonged periods of economic slowdown or recession, rising interest rates, or declining demand for self-storage, or the public perception that any of these events may occur, could result in a general decline in rental revenues, which could impair our ability to satisfy our debt service obligations and to make distributions to our shareholders.

 

Rental revenues are significantly influenced by demand for self-storage space generally, and a decrease in such demand would likely have a greater adverse effect on our rental revenues than if we owned a more diversified real estate portfolio.

 

Because our real estate portfolio consists primarily of self-storage properties, we are subject to risks inherent in investments in a single industry.  A decrease in the demand for self-storage space would have a greater adverse effect on our rental revenues than if we owned a more diversified real estate portfolio.  Demand for self-storage space could be adversely affected by weakness in the national, regional, and local economies, changes in supply of, or demand for, similar or competing self-storage properties in an area, and the excess amount of self-storage space in a particular market. To the extent that any of these conditions occur, they are likely to affect market rents for self-storage space, which could cause a decrease in our rental revenue.  Any such decrease could impair our ability to satisfy debt service obligations and make distributions to our shareholders.

 

Because real estate is illiquid, we may not be able to sell propeties when appropriate.

 

Real estate property investments generally cannot be sold quickly.  Also, the tax laws applicable to REITs require that we hold our properties for investment, rather than for sale in the ordinary course of business, which may cause us to forgo or defer sales of properties that otherwise would be in our best interest.  Therefore, we may not be able to dispose of properties promptly, or on favorable terms, in response to economic or other market conditions, which may adversely affect our financial position.

 

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Risks Related to our Qualification and Operation as a REIT

 

Failure to qualify as a REIT would subject us to U.S. federal income tax which would reduce the cash available for distribution to our shareholders.

 

We operate our business to qualify to be taxed as a REIT for federal income tax purposes.  We have not requested and do not plan to request a ruling from the IRS that we qualify as a REIT, and the statements in this Report are not binding on the IRS or any court.  As a REIT, we generally will not be subject to federal income tax on the income that we distribute currently to our shareholders.  Many of the REIT requirements, however, are highly technical and complex.  The determination that we are a REIT requires an analysis of various factual matters and circumstances that may not be totally within our control.  For example, to qualify as a REIT, at least 95% of our gross income must come from specific passive sources, such as rent, that are itemized in the REIT tax laws.  In addition, to qualify as a REIT, we cannot own specified amounts of debt and equity securities of some issuers.  We also are required to distribute to our shareholders with respect to each year at least 90% of our REIT taxable income, excluding net capital gains.  The fact that we hold substantially all of our assets through the Operating Partnership and its subsidiaries and joint ventures further complicates the application of the REIT requirements for us.  Even a technical or inadvertent mistake could jeopardize our REIT status, and, given the highly complex nature of the rules governing REITs and the ongoing importance of factual determinations, we cannot provide any assurance that we will continue to qualify as a REIT.  Changes to rules governing REITS were made by the Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act of 2015, signed into law on December 18, 2015, and Congress and the IRS might make further changes to the tax laws and regulations, and the courts might issue new rulings that make it more difficult, or impossible, for us to remain qualified as a REIT.  If we fail to qualify as a REIT for federal income tax purposes and are able to avail ourselves of one or more of the statutory savings provisions in order to maintain our REIT status, we would nevertheless be required to pay penalty taxes of $50,000 or more for each such failure.

 

If we fail to qualify as a REIT for federal income tax purposes, and are unable to avail ourselves of certain savings provisions set forth in the Internal Revenue Code, we would be subject to federal income tax at regular corporate rates on all of our income.  As a taxable corporation, we would not be allowed to take a deduction for distributions to shareholders in computing our taxable income or pass through long-term capital gains to individual shareholders at favorable rates.  We also could be subject to the federal alternative minimum tax and possibly increased state and local taxes.  We would not be able to elect to be taxed as a REIT for four years following the year we first failed to qualify unless the IRS were to grant us relief under certain statutory provisions.  If we failed to qualify as a REIT, we would have to pay significant income taxes, which would reduce our net earnings available for investment or distribution to our shareholders.  This likely would have a significant adverse effect on our earnings and likely would adversely affect the value of our securities. In addition, we would no longer be required to pay any distributions to shareholders.

 

Furthermore, as a result of our acquisition of all the issued and outstanding shares of common stock of a privately held self-storage REIT (“PSI”), we now own a subsidiary REIT. PSI is independently subject to, and must comply with, the same REIT requirements that we must satisfy in order to qualify as a REIT, together with all other rules applicable to REITs. If PSI fails to qualify as a REIT and certain statutory relief provisions do not apply, as a result of a protective election made jointly by PSI and CubeSmart, PSI will be taxed as a taxable REIT subsidiary. See the section entitled “Taxation of CubeSmart−Requirements for Qualification−Taxable REIT Subsidiaries” in Exhibit 99.1 for more information regarding taxable REIT subsidiaries.

 

Failure of the Operating Partnership (or a subsidiary partnership or joint venture) to be treated as a partnership would have serious adverse consequences to our shareholders.

 

If the IRS were to successfully challenge the tax status of the Operating Partnership or any of its subsidiary partnerships or joint ventures for federal income tax purposes, the Operating Partnership or the affected subsidiary partnership or joint venture would be taxable as a corporation.  In such event we would cease to qualify as a REIT and the imposition of a corporate tax on the Operating Partnership, a subsidiary partnership, or joint venture would reduce the amount of cash available for distribution from the Operating Partnership to us and ultimately to our shareholders.

 

To maintain our REIT status, we may be forced to borrow funds on a short-term basis during unfavorable market conditions.

 

As a REIT, we are subject to certain distribution requirements, including the requirement to distribute 90% of our REIT taxable income, excluding net capital gains, which may result in our having to make distributions at a disadvantageous time or to borrow funds at unfavorable rates.  Compliance with this requirement may hinder our ability to operate solely on the basis of maximizing profits.

 

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We will pay some taxes even if we qualify as a REIT, which will reduce the cash available for distribution to our shareholders.

 

Even if we qualify as a REIT for federal income tax purposes, we will be required to pay certain federal, state and local taxes on our income and property.  For example, we will be subject to income tax to the extent we distribute less than 100% of our REIT taxable income, including capital gains.  Additionally, we will be subject to a 4% nondeductible excise tax on the amount, if any, by which dividends paid by us in any calendar year are less than the sum of 85% of our ordinary income, 95% of our capital gain net income and 100% of our undistributed income from prior years. Moreover, if we have net income from “prohibited transactions,” that income will be subject to a 100% penalty tax.  In general, prohibited transactions are sales or other dispositions of property held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of business.  The determination as to whether a particular sale is a prohibited transaction depends on the facts and circumstances related to that sale.  We cannot guarantee that sales of our properties would not be prohibited transactions unless we comply with certain statutory safe-harbor provisions.

 

In addition, any net taxable income earned directly by our taxable REIT subsidiaries, or through entities that are disregarded for federal income tax purposes as entities separate from our taxable REIT subsidiaries, will be subject to federal and possibly state corporate income tax.  We have elected to treat some of our subsidiaries as taxable REIT subsidiaries, and we may elect to treat other subsidiaries as taxable REIT subsidiaries in the future.  In this regard, several provisions of the laws applicable to REITs and their subsidiaries ensure that a taxable REIT subsidiary will be subject to an appropriate level of federal income taxation.  For example, a taxable REIT subsidiary is limited in its ability to deduct certain interest payments made to an affiliated REIT.  In addition, the REIT has to pay a 100% penalty tax on some payments that it receives or on some deductions taken by a taxable REIT subsidiary if the economic arrangements between the REIT, the REIT’s customers, and the taxable REIT subsidiary are not comparable to similar arrangements between unrelated parties.  Finally, some state and local jurisdictions may tax some of our income even though as a REIT we are not subject to federal income tax on that income because not all states and localities follow the federal income tax treatment of REITs.  To the extent that we and our affiliates are required to pay federal, state, and local taxes, we will have less cash available for distributions to our shareholders.

 

We face possible federal, state, and local tax audits.

 

Because we are organized and qualify as a REIT, we are generally not subject to federal income taxes, but are subject to certain state and local taxes.  Certain entities through which we own real estate either have undergone, or are currently undergoing, tax audits.  Although we believe that we have substantial arguments in favor of our positions in the ongoing audits, in some instances there is no controlling precedent or interpretive guidance on the specific point at issue.  Collectively, tax deficiency notices received to date from the jurisdictions conducting the ongoing audits have not been material.  However, there can be no assurance that future audits will not occur with increased frequency or that the ultimate result of such audits will not have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.

 

Legislative or regulatory tax changes related to REITs could materially and adversely affect our business.

 

At any time, the federal income tax laws or regulations governing REITs or the administrative interpretations of those laws or regulations may be changed, possibly with retroactive effect. We cannot predict if or when any new federal income tax law, regulation or administrative interpretation, or any amendment to any existing federal income tax law, regulation or administrative interpretation, will be adopted, promulgated or become effective or whether any such law, regulation or interpretation may take effect retroactively. We and our shareholders could be adversely affected by any such change in, or any new, federal income tax law, regulation or administrative interpretation.

 

Risks Related to our Debt Financings

 

We face risks related to current debt maturities, including refinancing risk.

 

Certain of our mortgages, bank loans, and unsecured debt (including our senior notes) will have significant outstanding balances on their maturity dates, commonly known as “balloon payments.”   We may not have the cash resources available to repay those amounts, and we may have to raise funds for such repayment either through the issuance of equity or debt securities, additional bank borrowings (which may include extension of maturity dates), joint ventures, or asset sales.  Furthermore, we are restricted from incurring certain additional indebtedness and making certain other changes to our capital and debt structure under the terms of the senior notes and the indenture governing the senior notes.

 

There can be no assurance that we will be able to refinance our debt on favorable terms or at all.  To the extent we cannot refinance debt on favorable terms or at all, we may be forced to dispose of properties on disadvantageous terms or pay higher interest rates, either of which would have an adverse impact on our financial performance and ability to pay dividends to investors

 

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As a result of our interest rate hedges, swap agreements and other, similar arrangements, we face counterparty risks.

 

We may be exposed to the potential risk of counterparty default or non-payment with respect to interest rate hedges, swap agreements, floors, caps, and other interest rate hedging contracts that we may enter into from time to time, in which event we could suffer a material loss on the value of those agreements.  Although these agreements may lessen the impact of rising interest rates on us, they also expose us to the risk that other parties to the agreements will not perform or that we cannot enforce the agreements.  There is no assurance that our potential counterparties on these agreements will perform their obligations under such agreements.

 

Financing our future growth plan or refinancing existing debt maturities could be impacted by negative capital market conditions.

 

Recently, domestic financial markets have experienced extreme volatility and uncertainty.  At times in recent years liquidity has tightened in the domestic financial markets, including the investment grade debt and equity capital markets for which we historically sought financing.  Consequently, there is greater uncertainty regarding our ability to access the credit markets in order to attract financing on reasonable terms; there can be no assurance that we will be able to continue to issue common or preferred equity securities at a reasonable price.  Our ability to finance new acquisitions and refinance future debt maturities could be adversely impacted by our inability to secure permanent financing on reasonable terms, if at all.

 

The terms and covenants relating to our indebtedness could adversely impact our economic performance.

 

Like other real estate companies that incur debt, we are subject to risks associated with debt financing, such as the insufficiency of cash flow to meet required debt service payment obligations and the inability to refinance outstanding indebtedness at maturity.  If our debt cannot be paid, refinanced, or extended at maturity, we may not be able to make distributions to shareholders at expected levels or at all and may not be able to acquire new stores.  Failure to make distributions to our shareholders could result in our failure to qualify as a REIT for federal income tax purposes.  Furthermore, an increase in our interest expense could adversely affect our cash flow and ability to make distributions to shareholders.  If we do not meet our debt service obligations, any stores securing such indebtedness could be foreclosed on, which would have a material adverse effect on our cash flow and ability to make distributions and, depending on the number of stores foreclosed on, could threaten our continued viability.

 

Our Credit Facility (defined below) contains (and any new or amended facility we may enter into from time to time will likely contain) customary affirmative and negative covenants, including financial covenants that, among other things, require us to comply with certain liquidity and net worth tests.  Our ability to borrow under the Credit Facility is (and any new or amended facility we may enter into from time to time will be) subject to compliance with such financial and other covenants.  In the event that we fail to satisfy these covenants, we would be in default under the Credit Facility and may be required to repay such debt with capital from other sources.  Under such circumstances, other sources of debt or equity capital may not be available to us, or may be available only on unattractive terms.  Moreover, the presence of such covenants in our credit agreements could cause us to operate our business with a view toward compliance with such covenants, which might not produce optimal returns for shareholders.  Similarly, the indenture under which we have issued unsecured senior notes contains customary financial covenants, including limitations on incurrence of additional indebtedness.

 

Increases in interest rates on variable rate indebtedness would increase our interest expense, which could adversely affect our cash flow and ability to make distributions to shareholders.  Rising interest rates could also restrict our ability to refinance existing debt when it matures.  In addition, an increase in interest rates could decrease the amounts that third parties are willing to pay for our assets, thereby limiting our ability to alter our portfolio promptly in relation to economic or other conditions.

 

Our organizational documents contain no limitation on the amount of debt we may incur.  As a result, we may become highly leveraged in the future.

 

Our organizational documents do not limit the amount of indebtedness that we may incur.  We could alter the balance between our total outstanding indebtedness and the value of our assets at any time.  If we become more highly leveraged, then the resulting increase in debt service could adversely affect our ability to make payments on our outstanding indebtedness and to pay our anticipated distributions and/or the distributions required to maintain our REIT status, and could harm our financial condition.

 

Risks Related to our Organization and Structure

 

We are dependent upon our senior management team whose continued service is not guaranteed.

 

Our executive team, including our named executive officers, has extensive self-storage, real estate, and public company experience.  Although our named executive officers, effective January 1, 2017, are parties to the Company’s executive severance plan, we cannot

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provide assurance that any of them will remain in our employment.  The loss of services of one or more members of our senior management team could adversely affect our operations and our future growth.

 

We are dependent upon our on-site personnel to maximize customer satisfaction; any difficulties we encounter in hiring, training, and retaining skilled field personnel may adversely affect our rental revenues.

 

As of December 31, 2016, we had 1,844 property-level personnel involved in the management and operation of our stores.  The customer service, marketing skills, and knowledge of local market demand and competitive dynamics of our store managers are contributing factors to our ability to maximize our rental income and to achieve the highest sustainable rent levels at each of our stores.  We compete with various other companies in attracting and retaining qualified and skilled personnel. Competitive pressures may require that we enhance our pay and benefits package to compete effectively for such personnel.  If there is an increase in these costs or if we fail to attract and retain qualified and skilled personnel, our business and operating results could be harmed.

 

Certain provisions of Maryland law could inhibit changes in control, which may discourage third parties from conducting a tender offer or seeking other change of control transactions that could involve a premium price for our shares or otherwise benefit our shareholders.

 

Certain provisions of Maryland law may have the effect of inhibiting a third party from making a proposal to acquire us or of impeding a change of control under circumstances that otherwise could provide the holders of our common shares with the opportunity to realize a premium over the then-prevailing market price of those shares, including:

 

·

“business combination moratorium/fair price” provisions that, subject to limitations, prohibit certain business combinations between us and an “interested shareholder” (defined generally as any person who beneficially owns 10% or more of the voting power of our shares or an affiliate thereof) for five years after the most recent date on which the shareholder becomes an interested shareholder, and thereafter imposes stringent fair price and super-majority shareholder voting requirements on these combinations; and

 

·

“control share” provisions that provide that “control shares” of our company (defined as shares which, when aggregated with other shares controlled by the shareholder, entitle the shareholder to exercise one of three increasing ranges of voting power in electing Trustees) acquired in a “control share acquisition” (defined as the direct or indirect acquisition of ownership or control of “control shares” from a party other than the issuer) have no voting rights except to the extent approved by our shareholders by the affirmative vote of at least two thirds of all the votes entitled to be cast on the matter, excluding all interested shares, and are subject to redemption in certain circumstances.

 

We have opted out of these provisions of Maryland law.  However, our Board may opt to make these provisions applicable to us at any time without shareholder approval.

 

Our Trustees also have the discretion, granted in our bylaws and Maryland law, without shareholder approval to, among other things (1) create a staggered Board, (2) amend our bylaws or repeal individual bylaws in a manner that provides the Board with greater authority, and (3) issue additional equity securities.  Any such action could inhibit or impede a third party from making a proposal to acquire us at a price that could be beneficial to our shareholders.

 

Our shareholders have limited control to prevent us from making any changes to our investment and financing policies.

 

Our Board has adopted policies with respect to certain activities.  These policies may be amended or revised from time to time at the discretion of our Board without a vote of our shareholders.  This means that our shareholders have limited control over changes in our policies.  Such changes in our policies intended to improve, expand, or diversify our business may not have the anticipated effects and consequently may adversely affect our business and prospects, results of operations, and share price.

 

Our rights and the rights of our shareholders to take action against our Trustees and officers are limited.

 

Maryland law provides that a trustee or officer has no liability in that capacity if he or she performs his or her duties in good faith, in a manner he or she reasonably believes to be in our best interests and with the care that an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would use under similar circumstances.  Our declaration of trust and bylaws require us to indemnify our Trustees and officers for actions taken by them in those capacities on our behalf, to the extent permitted by Maryland law.  Accordingly, in the event that actions taken in good faith by any Trustee or officer impede our performance, our shareholders’ ability to recover damages from that Trustee or officer will be limited.

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Our declaration of trust permits our Board to issue preferred shares with terms that may discourage third parties from conducting a tender offer or seeking other change of control transactions that could involve a premium price for our shares or otherwise benefit our shareholders.

 

Our declaration of trust permits our Board to issue up to 40,000,000 preferred shares, having those preferences, conversion or other rights, voting powers, restrictions, limitations as to distributions, qualifications, or terms or conditions of redemption as determined by our Board.  In addition, our Board may reclassify any unissued common shares into one or more classes or series of preferred shares.  Thus, our Board could authorize, without shareholder approval, the issuance of preferred shares with terms and conditions that could have the effect of discouraging a takeover or other transaction in which holders of some or a majority of our shares might receive a premium for their shares over the then-prevailing market price of our shares. We currently do not expect that the Board would require shareholder approval prior to such a preferred issuance.  In addition, any preferred shares that we issue would rank senior to our common shares with respect to the payment of distributions, in which case we could not pay any distributions on our common shares until full distributions have been paid with respect to such preferred shares.

 

Risks Related to our Securities

 

Additional issuances of equity securities may be dilutive to shareholders.

 

The interests of our shareholders could be diluted if we issue additional equity securities to finance future acquisitions or developments or to repay indebtedness.  Our Board may authorize the issuance of additional equity securities, including preferred shares, without shareholder approval.  Our ability to execute our business strategy depends upon our access to an appropriate blend of debt financing, including unsecured lines of credit and other forms of secured and unsecured debt, and equity financing, including common and preferred equity.

 

Many factors could have an adverse effect on the market value of our securities.

 

A number of factors might adversely affect the price of our securities, many of which are beyond our control.  These factors include:

 

·

increases in market interest rates, relative to the dividend yield on our shares.  If market interest rates go up, prospective purchasers of our securities may require a higher yield.  Higher market interest rates would not, however, result in more funds for us to distribute and, to the contrary, would likely increase our borrowing costs and potentially decrease funds available for distribution.  Thus, higher market interest rates could cause the market price of our equity securities to go down;

 

·

anticipated benefit of an investment in our securities as compared to investment in securities of companies in other industries (including benefits associated with tax treatment of dividends and distributions);

 

·

perception by market professionals of REITs generally and REITs comparable to us in particular;

 

·

level of institutional investor interest in our securities;

 

·

relatively low trading volumes in securities of REITs;

 

·

our results of operations and financial condition;

 

·

investor confidence in the stock market generally; and

 

·

additions and departures of key personnel.

 

The market value of our equity securities is based primarily upon the market’s perception of our growth potential and our current and potential future earnings and cash distributions.  Consequently, our equity securities may trade at prices that are higher or lower than our net asset value per equity security.  If our future earnings or cash distributions are less than expected, it is likely that the market price of our equity securities will diminish.

 

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The market price of our common shares has been, and may continue to be, particularly volatile, and our shareholders may be unable to resell their shares at a profit.

 

The market price of our common shares has been subject to significant fluctuation and may continue to fluctuate or decline.  Between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2016, the closing price of our common shares has ranged from a high of $33.30 (on March 31, 2016) to a low of $15.63 (on January 27, 2014).  In the past several years, REIT securities have experienced high levels of volatility and significant increases in value from their historic lows.

 

In the past, following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities, securities class action litigation has often been brought against that company.  If our share price is volatile, we may become the target of securities litigation. Securities litigation could result in substantial costs and divert our management’s attention and resources from our business.

 

ITEM 1B.  UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

 

None.

 

ITEM 2.  PROPERTIES

 

Overview

 

As of December 31, 2016, we owned 475 self-storage properties that contain approximately 32.9 million rentable square feet and are located in 23 states and the District of Columbia.  The following table sets forth summary information regarding our stores by state as of December 31, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

    

    

    

    

Total

    

% of Total

    

    

 

 

 

Number of

 

 

 

Rentable

 

Rentable

 

Period-end

 

State

 

Stores

 

Cubes

 

Square Feet

 

Square Feet

 

Occupancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida

 

77

 

55,746

 

5,749,593

 

17.4

%  

93.1

%  

Texas

 

63

 

36,338

 

4,363,664

 

13.3

%  

84.8

%  

New York

 

43

 

51,984

 

3,066,009

 

9.3

%  

81.4

%  

California

 

40

 

25,750

 

2,831,254

 

8.6

%  

94.6

%  

Illinois

 

39

 

22,575

 

2,461,164

 

7.5

%  

91.6

%  

Arizona

 

33

 

18,847

 

2,054,791

 

6.3

%  

91.3

%  

New Jersey

 

25

 

16,826

 

1,700,430

 

5.2

%  

91.8

%  

Georgia

 

18

 

11,063

 

1,316,941

 

4.0

%  

90.9

%  

Ohio

 

20

 

11,089

 

1,293,096

 

3.9

%  

90.2

%  

Maryland

 

15

 

12,010

 

1,228,155

 

3.7

%  

92.9

%  

Connecticut

 

22

 

10,656

 

1,179,463

 

3.6

%  

91.5

%  

Virginia

 

10

 

7,873

 

787,982

 

2.4

%  

87.3

%  

Colorado

 

11

 

5,998

 

697,589

 

2.1

%  

85.1

%  

Massachusetts

 

11

 

7,261

 

674,772

 

2.1

%  

87.9

%  

North Carolina

 

9

 

5,601

 

654,175

 

2.0

%  

89.7

%  

Tennessee

 

7

 

4,416

 

618,212

 

1.9

%  

85.8

%  

Pennsylvania

 

9

 

6,023

 

609,289

 

1.9

%  

89.2

%  

Nevada

 

7

 

4,122

 

519,657

 

1.6

%  

92.1

%  

Utah

 

4

 

2,261

 

240,023

 

0.7

%  

95.5

%  

Rhode Island

 

4

 

1,971

 

236,995

 

0.7

%  

92.2

%  

Washington D.C.

 

3

 

2,849

 

224,302

 

0.7

%  

85.0

%  

New Mexico

 

3

 

1,648

 

182,261

 

0.6

%  

93.5

%  

Minnesota

 

1

 

1,018

 

100,978

 

0.3

%  

83.5

%  

Indiana

 

1

 

574

 

67,604

 

0.2

%  

95.7

%  

Total/Weighted Average

 

475

 

324,499

 

32,858,399

 

100.0

89.7

%  

 

24


 

Table of Contents

Our Stores

 

The following table sets forth additional information with respect to each of our owned stores as of December 31, 2016. Our ownership of each store consists of a fee interest in the store held by our Operating Partnership, or one of its subsidiaries, except for eight of our stores, which are subject to ground leases.  In addition, small parcels of land at two of our other stores are subject to ground leases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Year

    

 

    

 

    

 

    

 

    

 

    

 

 

 

 

Acquired / /

 

 

 

Rentable

 

 

 

 

 

Manager

 

% Climate

 

 

 

Developed

 

 

 

Square

 

Occupancy

 

 

 

Apartment

 

Controlled

 

Store Location

 

 (1) 

 

Year Built

 

Feet

 

 (2) 

 

Cubes

 

 (3) 

 

 (4) 

 

Chandler I, AZ

 

2005

 

1985

 

47,680

 

94.3

%  

454

 

Y

 

12.5

Chandler II, AZ

 

2013

 

2008

 

82,889

 

93.1

%  

1,172

 

N

 

73.7

Gilbert I, AZ

 

2013

 

2010

 

57,300

 

86.8

%  

443

 

Y

 

83.6

Gilbert II, AZ

 

2016

 

2005/14

 

91,505

 

84.0

%  

679

 

Y

 

37.7

Glendale, AZ

 

1998

 

1987

 

56,807

 

98.4

%  

528

 

Y

 

0.0

Green Valley, AZ

 

2005

 

1985

 

25,050

 

89.6

%  

266

 

N

 

9.0

Mesa I, AZ

 

2006

 

1985

 

52,575

 

92.1

%  

501

 

N

 

0.0

Mesa II, AZ

 

2006

 

1981

 

45,511

 

88.6

%  

410

 

Y

 

16.7

Mesa III, AZ

 

2006

 

1986

 

59,629

 

95.1

%  

524

 

Y

 

15.8

Peoria, AZ

 

2015

 

2005

 

110,835

 

94.5

%  

925

 

N

 

35.3

Phoenix I, AZ

 

2006

 

1987

 

100,875

 

90.7

%  

751

 

Y

 

21.8

Phoenix II, AZ

 

2006/11

 

1974

 

83,160

 

95.7

%  

809

 

Y

 

6.7

Phoenix III, AZ

 

2014

 

2009

 

121,731

 

91.0

%  

820

 

N

 

73.8

Phoenix IV, AZ

 

2016

 

2008

 

69,660

 

89.3

%  

705

 

Y

 

99.9

Queen Creek, AZ

 

2015

 

2013

 

94,462

 

74.3

%  

624

 

Y

 

61.0

Scottsdale, AZ

 

1998

 

1995

 

79,525

 

95.1

%  

654

 

Y

 

20.4

Surprise, AZ

 

2015

 

2006

 

72,575

 

91.6

%  

602

 

N

 

100.0

Tempe I, AZ

 

2005

 

1975

 

53,890

 

91.2

%  

407

 

Y

 

18.8

Tempe II, AZ

 

2013

 

2007

 

68,409

 

88.8

%  

733

 

Y

 

86.4

Tucson I, AZ

 

1998

 

1974

 

59,800

 

95.3

%  

496

 

Y

 

0.0

Tucson II, AZ

 

1998

 

1988

 

43,950

 

88.3

%  

537

 

Y

 

100.0

Tucson III, AZ

 

2005

 

1979

 

49,832

 

92.8

%  

496

 

N

 

0.0

Tucson IV, AZ

 

2005

 

1982

 

48,040

 

95.2

%  

504

 

Y

 

13.4

Tucson V, AZ

 

2005

 

1982

 

45,134

 

92.3

%  

421

 

Y

 

11.3

Tucson VI, AZ

 

2005

 

1982

 

40,814

 

91.3

%  

418

 

Y

 

13.6

Tucson VII, AZ

 

2005

 

1982

 

52,688

 

94.7

%  

601

 

Y

 

7.0

Tucson VIII, AZ

 

2005

 

1979

 

46,650

 

93.3

%  

454

 

Y

 

0.0

Tucson IX, AZ

 

2005

 

1984

 

67,496

 

93.6

%  

605

 

Y