Public Storage is a REIT focused on acquiring, developing, owning, and operating self-storage facilities in the US and Europe. The company is a member of the S&P 500 and the FT Global 500 and is the world’s 4th largest REIT by market cap. Along with its holdings of self-storage facilities, the company owns a 42% stake in business park company PS Business Parks and is also in business selling packing and storage supplies. The company is headquartered in Glendale California.
The company was founded in 1972 by B. Wayne Hughes and Kenneth Polk who used the leverage of investments from RELPs to grow the business. The original plan was to use the storage warehouses as a means of generating income until the properties were more valuable. The surprise is that demand for storage space was high and led to unexpected profitability.
The company has more than 1,000 locations by 1989 and then, in 1995, it transformed itself into a publicly traded REIT. The transformation was spurred by tax changes that made RELPs obsolete. The transformation was done via a merger with Storage Equities which gave up its name in favor of Public Storage. The company grew again with the acquisition of Shurgard in 2006 but it has since been spun off as its own publicly traded company. Public Storage retains 36% ownership in Shurgard.
As of September 2022, the company owned and operated 2,807 self-storage facilities in 39 states. The total area of rental space exceeded 2 million square feet serving nearly 2 million customers and generating close to $3.5 billion in annual revenues. Shurgard lays claim to another 239 facilities in the EU which amounts to another 13 minion square feet of storage space. PS Business Parks, Inc, which trades under the ticker (NYSE: PSB) owns and operates 28 million square feet of commercial space.
Advantages of Public Storage include scale, leverage, and the balance sheet. The company’s size and scale mean that more than half the US population lives within driving distance of a Public Storage facility. The company gives leverage through its three-pronged acquisition, development, and redevelopment strategy which are all supported by the balance sheet. The company’s balance sheet is set up for growth and is able to self-fund most new projects.