Life Storage, Inc. is a US$4.9b mid-cap, real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Williamsville, United States. REIT shares give you ownership of the company than owns and manages various income-producing property, whether it be commercial, industrial or residential. The structure of LSI is unique and it has to adhere to different requirements compared to other non-REIT stocks. I’ll take you through some of the key metrics you should use in order to properly assess LSI.
A common financial term REIT investors should know is Funds from Operations, or FFO for short, which is a REIT's main source of income from its portfolio of property, such as rent. FFO is a cleaner and more representative figure of how much LSI actually makes from its day-to-day operations, compared to net income, which can be affected by one-off activities or non-cash items such as depreciation. For LSI, its FFO of US$262m makes up 71% of its gross profit, which means the majority of its earnings are high-quality and recurring.
In order to understand whether LSI has a healthy balance sheet, we have to look at a metric called FFO-to-total debt. This tells us how long it will take LSI to pay off its debt using its income from its main business activities, and gives us an insight into LSI’s ability to service its borrowings. With a ratio of 15%, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor would consider this as significantly high risk. This would take LSI 6.54 years to pay off using operating income alone. Given that long-term debt is a multi-year commitment this is not unusual, however, the longer it takes for a company to pay back debt, the higher the risk associated with that company.
Next, interest coverage ratio shows how many times LSI’s earnings can cover its annual interest payments. Usually the ratio is calculated using EBIT, but for REITs, it’s better to use FFO divided by net interest. This is similar to the above concept, but looks at the nearer-term obligations. With an interest coverage ratio of 3.71x, it’s safe to say LSI is generating an appropriate amount of cash from its borrowings.
I also use FFO to look at LSI's valuation relative to other REITs in United States by using the price-to-FFO metric. This is conceptually the same as the price-to-earnings (PE) ratio, but as previously mentioned, FFO is more suitable. In LSI’s case its P/FFO is 18.54x, compared to the long-term industry average of 16.5x, meaning that it is slightly overvalued.
Life Storage can bring diversification into your portfolio due to its unique REIT characteristics. Before you make a decision on the stock today, keep in mind I've only covered one metric in this article, the FFO, which is by no means comprehensive. I'd strongly recommend continuing your research on the following areas I believe are key fundamentals for LSI:
- Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for LSI’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for LSI’s outlook.
- Valuation: What is LSI worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether LSI is currently mispriced by the market.
- Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.
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