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Edited Transcript of CUBE earnings conference call or presentation 26-Apr-19 3:00pm GMT

Q1 2019 CubeSmart Earnings Call

Cleveland Apr 29, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of CubeSmart earnings conference call or presentation Friday, April 26, 2019 at 3:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Christopher P. Marr

CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee

* Timothy M. Martin

CubeSmart - CFO & Treasurer

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Conference Call Participants

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* Bennett Smedes Rose

Citigroup Inc, Research Division - Director & Analyst

* Ki Bin Kim

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - MD

* Robert Jeremy Metz

BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Director & Analyst

* Ryan Gregory Lumb

Green Street Advisors, LLC, Research Division - Senior Associate & Analyst

* Shirley Wu

BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Todd Jakobsen Stender

Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Director & Senior Analyst

* Todd Michael Thomas

KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - MD and Senior Equity Research Analyst

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Good morning, and welcome to CubeSmart First Quarter 2019 Earnings Conference Call. (Operator Instructions) Please note that this event is being recorded.

At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Josh [Schertzer], Director of Financial Analysis. Please go ahead, sir.

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Unidentified Company Representative, [2]

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Thank you, Denise. Hello, everyone. Good morning from Malvern, Pennsylvania. Welcome to CubeSmart's First Quarter 2019 Earnings Call. Participants on today's call include Chris Marr, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Tim Martin, Chief Financial Officer. Our prepared remarks will be followed by a Q&A session.

In addition to our earnings release, which was issued yesterday evening, supplemental operating and financial data is available under the Investor Relations section of the company's website at www.cubesmart.com. The company's remarks will include certain forward-looking statements regarding earnings and strategy that involve risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from those forward-looking statements. The risks and factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from forward-looking statements are provided in documents the company furnishes to or files with the Securities and Exchange Commission, specifically the Form 8-K we filed this morning, together with our earnings release filed with the Form 8-K and the Risk Factors section of the company's annual report on Form 10-K.

In addition, the company's remarks include reference to non-GAAP measures. A reconciliation between GAAP and non-GAAP measures can be found in the first quarter financial supplement posted on the company's website at www.cubesmart.com.

I will now turn the call over to Chris.

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [3]

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All right. Thank you, Josh, and good morning. Thanks, everybody for your interest in CubeSmart. In the first quarter we experienced encouraging consumer demand trends across our portfolio with our same-store revenue and occupancy, solidly in line with our expectations entering the year, and our joint venture in non-same-store properties modestly outperforming our occupancy in revenue expectations. In our year-end 2018 call, Tim articulated that we were factoring into our 2019 growth expectations, the impact of new supply on approximately 50% of the stores included in our same-store portfolio.

Our updated supply data continues to support our thesis that the rolling 3-year impact of supply in our top markets will be greater in 2019 than what we experienced in previous years. In reviewing our significant markets, we do see some signs of life in those markets such as Austin that saw new supply earliest in this cycle. Based on current data, those markets that saw supply earlier in the cycle also appear to have the sharpest drop in anticipated 2020 deliveries.

Our New York properties remained consistent performers in the face of new supply. While we do continue to factor in gradually increasing supply impact on our Brooklyn portfolio through 2019. The Bronx, similar to my previous commentary regarding markets that experience new supply early in this cycle, experienced solid quarter-over-quarter growth in both occupancy and asking rents.

Miami, Denver, Charlotte, our markets that are in the midst of dealing with the impact of significant new supply. While current data suggest the decline in deliveries in 2020, the rolling 3-year impact will remain elevated and we would expect those markets to be challenged operationally into next year.

Houston, in the first quarter, had a difficult hurricane comp to 2018. So we do it for the growth rates to improve over the course of the year, however, supply will continue to weigh heavily on operating fundamentals. As we survey the landscape and speak to our 175-plus and growing 3PM clients as well as our industry contacts, the following themes emerge: our self-storage customers remains healthy and the overall U.S. consumer continue to benefit from high employment, growing wages, low interest rates and strong financial markets. The more seasoned self-storage developers use a primary market as being late cycle and are either scaling back their efforts or shifting to secondary market opportunities.

Banks and borrowers are just beginning to experience the impact of lower-than-expected rental rates in the overdeveloped markets, adding an additional hurdle to new development projects in those markets. A fairly universal thesis that 2020 supply and the top MSAs will decline from current levels, and markets with strong demographics and low square feet per capita will bounce back more quickly from the impact of supply.

And finally, the healthy cash flow growth from our business in the face of supply has further validated the enormous importance of brand and a scalable operating platform.

With that, I will turn it over to Tim Martin, our Chief Financial Officer.

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Timothy M. Martin, CubeSmart - CFO & Treasurer [4]

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Thanks, Chris, and thanks to everyone joining us on the call for your continued interest and support.

We reported first quarter 2019 results last evening including a headline result of $0.40 per share of FFO as adjusted, which was at the high end of our provided guidance range and represents 2.6% growth over last year. Overall, for the quarter, our results were very much in line with our expectations. Same-store NOI of 2.8% was driven by a 2.6% increase in revenue and a 2.2% increase in operating expenses. All 3 metrics very much in line with our expectations. Occupancy levels were flat year-over-year on both an average and ending basis. Our same-store expense growth was impacted by a 4.2% growth in real estate tax expense and a 3.1% increase in personnel costs, offset by flat advertising costs and lower weather-related costs as compared to last year.

During the first quarter, we closed on one wholly owned property acquisition in Annapolis, Maryland for $22 million. We added 46 stores to our third-party management program, bringing our managed store count up to 619 at quarter end.

In the 1st week of April, we opened 2 stores from our development program, one of the stores in Queens, New York, the other in Bayonne, New Jersey. We also added a new development project to our pipeline in Arlington, Virginia. This store will be adjacent to our existing store in Arlington that we developed back in 2015, and the new development is expected to open in the first quarter of 2021 and is an exciting opportunity for us given Amazon's announcement a few months back about the location of their new East Coast headquarters location.

On the balance sheet, we were active in the first quarter using our at-the-market equity program, raising net proceeds of $24.6 million at an average sales price of $32.20 per share. And as we discussed on the last earnings call, in January, we completed the offering of $350 million of 10-year senior unsecured notes with a coupon of 4.375%. We use the proceeds from the bond yield to repay a $200 million term loan that was set to expire in 2019 and the balance to reduce borrowings under our revolver.

We have very manageable debt maturities over the next 3 years. We've reduced our floating rate debt exposure to just 11%. And we've elongated our average years to maturity to 5.8 years. Our landscape for 2019 hasn't changed much since we provided our initial guidance 2 months ago. Our first quarter results and April performance give us additional comfort and confidence in the guidance ranges that we have provided. We did modestly increase our annual FFO per share as adjusted guidance by bringing up the bottom end by $0.01. Overall, first quarter for us was right in line with what we expected. Pressure from a rate perspective in markets that are experiencing heightened levels of new supply, not new news and not a surprise. We're using slightly more discounts this year over last year, not a surprise. We're seeing demands sufficient to keep our occupancies flat year-over-year. Again, very much what we expected.

So overall, no new news from an operating fundamental perspective, which is good news to us. Gives us increased confidence in meeting the expectations that we laid out for the year as we head into our busy summer rental season.

So thanks again for joining us on the call this morning.

At this point, Denise, let's open up the call for some questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) And your first question this morning will come from Shirley Wu of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

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Shirley Wu, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Research Analyst [2]

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So the first question is on guidance. So given you've maintained core and revenue at 2%, expenses at 3.5%. What's the cadence of same-store revenue expense growth for the remainder of the year?

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Timothy M. Martin, CubeSmart - CFO & Treasurer [3]

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I'm sorry. Same-store expense growth, was that your question?

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Shirley Wu, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Research Analyst [4]

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So given you've maintained revenue and expense growth. So revenue growth being at 2.6% compared to guidance of 2%, and expense growth coming in at 2.2% versus your guidance of 3.5%. How do you expect the rest of this year to play out?

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Timothy M. Martin, CubeSmart - CFO & Treasurer [5]

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Got you. So on the revenue side -- it's a range. I mean you're focused on the midpoint at 2%. A range of 1.5% to 2.5%. Our first quarter at 2.6% is just above the high end of that range. We do expect deceleration to continue. It's not always as smooth as everyone would like it to be, but we do expect a gradual deceleration as we continue into 2019. On the expense front. There a lot of line items in expenses that are relatively easy for us to predict on an annual basis, sometimes the timing is a little bit more challenging in particular, in areas like repair, maintenance expense, sometimes seasonal expenses. We have some good news in the first quarter based on some weather-related comps, not good news necessarily versus our expectations but good news on a year-over-year basis. Marketing expense can be a little bit lumpy. So from an expense standpoint, despite the fact that our first quarter is -- looks attractive relative to our range, and we remain very comfortable with the range that we provided for the entire year.

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Shirley Wu, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Research Analyst [6]

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That's fair. Then could you speak a little to what drove the FFO bump on the lower end side?

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Timothy M. Martin, CubeSmart - CFO & Treasurer [7]

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Really just coming in at the high end of our first quarter number.

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Shirley Wu, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Research Analyst [8]

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Okay. So one last question, could you speak to your net effect of rate trends in 1Q? And maybe even into April so far?

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Timothy M. Martin, CubeSmart - CFO & Treasurer [9]

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Sure. So the different components, of course, from an asking rate perspective, we've seen asking rates down in the 1% to 2% range. We've seen discounts, as I mentioned in my prepared remarks, discounts have increased a bit year-over-year. We've been talking for several quarters if not several years that levels of discounts as a percentage of revenues were at historical lows, and it was really nowhere to go but up. And we're in that period of time where they're going up slightly. So discounts as a percentage of revenues were 4.1% or 4.2% for the quarter, which is up about 30 basis points over last year. So those are some of the components, some of the drivers.

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Shirley Wu, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Research Analyst [10]

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Have you seen that changed] in April?

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Timothy M. Martin, CubeSmart - CFO & Treasurer [11]

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No. Very consistent. April performance has been very consistent from all of those metrics to what we saw in the first quarter.

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Operator [12]

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The next quarter will be from Jeremy Metz of BMO Capital Markets.

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Robert Jeremy Metz, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Director & Analyst [13]

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Tim, in your remarks you mentioned no new news on the operating front. Chris, you started by mentioning revenues and occupancy being right in line with expectations, but you also started the call saying you're seeing encouraging signs on the demand front. So can you maybe just expand on that a little bit and help tie those together. Because on one hand is sounds like everything was sort of in line, but it also sounds like you're feeling better today looking out from here?

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [14]

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Yes. I think that the point of connection there, Jeremy, thanks for the question, is just looking at the 2 groups of assets. So when we look at the entire portfolio, our non-same-store, joint venture, and then even if you include the 600-plus, third-party stores that we manage, we're seeing very good demand in the overall sub-marketplace. Now how that demand flows into the same stores relative to the newly opened stores, I think is what has caused the same-store metrics to be very consistent with what we had expected, which is encouraging. And then we're seeing the physical occupancies on the newly opened stores continue to lease-up at a nice pace. So overall demand in these markets and submarkets remains quite healthy and more than adequate, we think, especially in the better demographic markets to fill up the new supply in a way that is I think is comforting to the overall self-storage environment in those markets.

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Robert Jeremy Metz, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Director & Analyst [15]

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And just sort of sticking with what you're seeing out there. I know you and your peers operate differently in terms of revenue strategies, but you also all canvas the market here. So as you look into some of your bigger metrics where you compete with some of the bigger public or even private owners, are you seeing any behavioral changes in the market in terms of how aggressive or not folks are being and rents and discounting or whatnot?

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [16]

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No. I would say that on stores that open -- new store openings, nothing new. You still have folks -- if you try to bookend the 2 strategies, there is, I'm a holder of this asset for an infinite amount of time and, therefore, I want to lease it up in the way that will maximize my revenue and my return over that very long-term hold expectation, therefore, it's a more methodical lease up at higher net effective rents. You have those folks who may have a much shorter time frame in terms of their expectation and, therefore, you see them focusing more on how rapidly can I gain physical occupancy at the cost of the current effective rent that I'm getting. That's not new. That's been like that for a long time, and it continues to be like that. Nobody is moving -- beyond those 2 bookends, we're not seeing anything odd.

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Robert Jeremy Metz, BMO Capital Markets Equity Research - Director & Analyst [17]

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Appreciate that color. And then just the last one from me. Also, something that you mentioned in your remarks, Chris, about banks and borrowers feeling the impact of lower revenues expectations and rents. As this is playing out, are you looking at or seeing any broken development deals or nonstabilized deals, are the developer owner just isn't hitting expectation and therefore they're looking to get out. Is this an opportunity set that's increased at all?

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [18]

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I think it will be an opportunity, how robust we'll remain to be seen. This is an incredibly resilient property type. So in my 25 years, you rarely see an outright bust, it's just disappointment as I've said. And I think we're early in that. When you're one of a new project's lease up. Often times the expectation was for heavy discounting or lower rents in exchange for some physical occupancy in the pro forma. So in year one, you can often somewhat disguise the fact that your rental rates may be lower than you would have expected. It's not really until you get it to her year 2, when you would have pro forma at some form of growth in the effective rents, and all of a sudden you're not seeing that. And so the NOIs start to become a little more pressured. So I still think we're still early in that. This would be the 2019, after we get through this rental season. It would be the deals that opened in '17 that will be starting to feel the impact, and to some degree I guess those that opened in late '16. So early, but I do think it's going to present an opportunity, historically, how robust that is, I think we're going to have to see other macro events such as pressure on the banks or a rising rate environment, something else that will add fuel to that.

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Operator [19]

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The next question will be from Todd Thomas of KeyBanc Capital Markets.

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Todd Michael Thomas, KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - MD and Senior Equity Research Analyst [20]

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First, Tim, a quick follow up or clarification I guess to your response to Shirley's question on asking rents. Are asking rates down 1% to 2%, as in negative 1% to 2% or are they still positive but down 2 -- 1% to 2%?

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Timothy M. Martin, CubeSmart - CFO & Treasurer [21]

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I'm sorry. I wasn't very clear, I guess. They're negative 1% to 2% across the portfolio. And of course, that's a tale of -- there are markets that are positive to very positive and there are markets that are challenged. But we added altogether across the portfolio, asking rates are down between 1% and 2%.

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Todd Michael Thomas, KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - MD and Senior Equity Research Analyst [22]

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Okay. And then can you talk of just a little bit more about the net rents, the realized rents for occupied square foot? So revenue growth was entirely rate driven in the quarter. There was no change in occupancy. And maybe you can just talk about that metric and the mix between existing customer rent increases and everything else and sort of help us understand how that might trend from here?

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Timothy M. Martin, CubeSmart - CFO & Treasurer [23]

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Yes. So it's -- again, it's going to be a blend of all of the ingredients that you're aware of. We don't dig into that number to try to parse out the amount of the growth that is represented by rate increases to existing customers. That of course, is a portion of it. A portion of it is the asking rate, a portion of it discounts, a portion of it is longer length of stay. So those are all the ingredients. And we're not going to get in and try to parse out how much was attributable by each one of those.

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [24]

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I think macro though, Todd, if you think about trends. The length of stay does continue to elongate very modestly, but it does continue to elongate. Part of that is going to be maturation of the portfolio, part of that is going to be - we're finding the urban customer just tends to stay longer. I think you combined that then which is giving us an opportunity to pass along increases to a few more folks, to the extent that length of stay is elongating. And then you look at the magnitude of those rental rate increases, hasn't meaningfully changed, but it hasn't gone down. So I think that's a driver. And then as Tim said, I think you take that combined with just the churn at an individual property and the sizes that folks are renting and all of that sort of mushes together to get to the rental rate growth you're seeing.

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Todd Michael Thomas, KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - MD and Senior Equity Research Analyst [25]

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Okay. And just lastly, the in-place rents that you -- that we see here in the supplements. So they were up 3%, that's gross rents. Net rents were up about 2.6%. So you talked about that sort of 30 to 40 basis point headwind from discounting. Is that a good run rate to assume for the balance of the year? Or do year-over-year comps or operating conditions change that at all throughout the year in your view?

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [26]

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Yes. It's a difficult one to, again, to try to predict the individual components. So I think we are being more promotional now given some of the headwinds that we've discussed. I would think the best guess as you sit here today, is that as -- if that was the trend in the first quarter that's probably the most likely trend to continue into -- at least into the second quarter, but the systems are going to generate pricing recommendations on both an asking rate, discounting and promotional basis, based on what is going to maximize revenues. That said, I think, the most likely thing is for there still to be a bit of pressure on a year-over-year basis from a discount or promotions perspective.

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Operator [27]

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And the next question will be from Ki Bin Kim of SunTrust.

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Ki Bin Kim, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - MD [28]

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Can you talk a little bit more about the rent trends you're seeing in New York City? I think, in the opening remarks, you said it was improving to positive territory?

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [29]

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Yes. Ki Bin, it's Chris. New York City, pretty encouraging Q1. When we show in the supplement the metrics for the MSA, and I think we had maybe a modest 20 basis point decline in same-store revenues sequentially there from Q4 to Q1, we actually saw a little bit of acceleration in those metrics in New York City, which was encouraging, good piece of that coming from the Bronx, where again, we've seen a good growth in physical occupancies, up pretty nicely there actually and seeing some growth in the asking rents there as well. Brooklyn, the occupancies have hung in there really nicely in spite of the fact that we're seeing a pretty consistent delivery of new supply there. A little bit of pressure on rental rates, but not as much as we would have expected in our -- in sort of framing out our thoughts on 2019. Queens also remains solid in the face of a little bit of supply, both occupancy and rental rates and then the one store we have in Staten Island has been a gem and continues to be so. The new stores in the markets are renting up nicely consistent with my prior comments from a physical occupancy perspective, albeit at rental rates that are absolutely lower than what we would have expected when we went into the pro formas many years ago, but we remain encouraged again by the level of demand that we're seeing in the market. All that being said, our expectations and perhaps we're always cautious, especially at this time of the year are that supply in Brooklyn will begin to have an impact on it. I think our team there, the quality of the stores, the location of the stores has done a great job in mitigating that. I think the power of the brand in that market has done a great job of mitigating that. We remain cautiously optimistic on how this will play out throughout the year. Right now we would expect to see some level of deceleration in those metrics in Brooklyn, Queens, over the course of the rest of '19.

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Ki Bin Kim, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - MD [30]

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But if you look at that, all those markets in totality. Was is -- any sense of like magnitude, in terms of the improvement you're talking about? So are like rates up a couple percent or...

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [31]

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Yes. If you look at those markets in totality, asking rents are up between 1% and 2% positive. Occupancy is almost 260 basis points higher than they were at this time last year.

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Ki Bin Kim, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - MD [32]

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Okay. And any sense on how much your own new developments in those markets are actually impacting your metrics? So basically, I'm trying to get a sense of, when your own property of lease up, how much less cannibalization is there that might benefit your internal New York City portfolio?

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [33]

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Yes. Off the top of my head, Ki Bin, I think like 90% of our stable stores in the outer boroughs are experiencing some form of competition and of that, 90%, I would say, I don't know, 70%, 80% of those, it's a CubeSmart that is in the mix for -- whether owned or managed, that is that competition. So yes, 100% once the lease-up stores in the outer boroughs that are branded, CubeSmart start to get close to stabilized physical occupancies, our expectation is that we will then begin to see fairly good rental rate growth and again, this has been our experience at some locations in the Bronx already. And I think it will be a net positive. I also think that we are certainly closer to the end and the beginning on the deliveries of new supply in the outer boroughs as we sit here today.

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Ki Bin Kim, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - MD [34]

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Okay. That's pretty encouraging. Just last question, what are you guys spending on CapEx per square foot on kind of an annualized basis?

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [35]

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I'm sorry, I just want to make sure I didn't misspeak. We typically budget in the high $0.30 per square foot so somewhere between $0.35 and $0.40 is typical, and that hasn't really changed much over the past, I would say, 4, 5 years.

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Operator [36]

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The next question will be from Smedes Rose of Citi.

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Bennett Smedes Rose, Citigroup Inc, Research Division - Director & Analyst [37]

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I just also wanted to ask you on the New York results in the quarter. It looks like expenses were down a little bit and I just mean, is that may be tax related or is there -- was there something else that was driving that?

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [38]

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Yes, Smedes. It's mostly weather. So I think we just had a little bit lower on the utilities side and then a little bit lower on these other weather-related expenses quarter-over-quarter.

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Bennett Smedes Rose, Citigroup Inc, Research Division - Director & Analyst [39]

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Okay. And then the other thing I wanted to ask you, you mentioned that banks and developers will probably start to see somewhat disappointing results. Is that your sense that financing for storage has kind of gone back to where it was in the prior peak, and the sense of very high loan-to-construction nonrecourse minimal equity of investment. Are we kind of back at those levels now? So that's what would need to sort of change on the margin or...

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Timothy M. Martin, CubeSmart - CFO & Treasurer [40]

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Thanks, Smedes, great question. On anything speculative, absolutely not. You continue to see low advance rates, recourse. I would call it healthy sort of traditionally normal lending on anything speculative. On stable cash flow, there's been a couple of the CMBS deals that have been done with private storage operators. You're seeing maybe a more aggressive sort of lending environment given, I think, the comfort level that the banks have gotten over the years on the resiliency of the product, the strength of the cash flows and, frankly, how we've always performed through this supply cycle I think has given them a little more comfort on that side. Again, nothing egregious, but I think it's a little more -- there is a little more leeway on the staple side.

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Bennett Smedes Rose, Citigroup Inc, Research Division - Director & Analyst [41]

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And then just finally, can you just talk about what -- where is the difference between asking rates and in-place rates? Across the portfolio?

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [42]

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Sure. Happy to, Smedes. So when you think about that, that roll down or whatever terminology folks like to think about. Again, it's very seasonal. In the fourth quarter and the first quarter that gap is at its widest given the fact that, combine a couple of things. Our medium length of stay remains about 6.5 months. So the majority of folks that would be moving out in the first quarter would have rented during the peak leasing season back last summer. So they would have moved in at the seasonally highest point from a rate perspective and are moving out at the seasonally low, because our rates do swing on a seasonal basis. And so what's typical for the first quarter, is that gap between in place and asking is in that 10% to 15% range and that's consistent to where we were this year's compared to last year. We were a little bit wider this year than last year, which is largely attributable and very much aligned with the fact that our Street rates are down 1% to 2% versus where they were last year. So 10% to 15-ish percent below.

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Bennett Smedes Rose, Citigroup Inc, Research Division - Director & Analyst [43]

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Okay, and then I guess that should compress as you get into kind of seasonally stronger periods, or...

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [44]

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Yes. It does. It gets back to approximating even when you get to the peak of the leasing season. And then it cycles back down into that 10% to 15% range in the off-peak period. It can be 11% one year, 13% another year, but it trends the same way each and every year based on the time of the year from a seasonal perspective, no doubt.

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Operator [45]

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The next question will be from Eric Frankel of Green Street Advisors.

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Ryan Gregory Lumb, Green Street Advisors, LLC, Research Division - Senior Associate & Analyst [46]

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This is Ryan Lumb. I think your occupancy, as measured by your 18 same-store pool has been down, I think 4 consecutive quarters just slightly. Just wondering is that sort of an intentional strategy in balancing price versus occupancy? Or if it's just a result of a more competitive environment? More challenging to get tenants in the door?

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [47]

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Yes. We don't manage to that physical occupancy number. I think the delta's been 20, 30 basis points, so nothing significant. As we sit here today, physical occupancy is 5, 10 basis points better than it was last year and has continued to sort of trend that way through April. So it moves in a tight band, but again, we're managing, I hate to keep repeating the same thing, but we are managing to a maximization of revenue and we'll pull all the levers and push all the buttons as we see fit.

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Ryan Gregory Lumb, Green Street Advisors, LLC, Research Division - Senior Associate & Analyst [48]

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I understand. And I guess getting back to Ki Bin's question on New York. I think maybe just another question. Can you help us reconcile, so it seems like your same-store pool in New York is doing pretty well or at least it's pretty stable in that 3% range, but the lease up of your New York stores seems to be I think a little bit behind what an average lease up might be expected. Or do you disagree that the lease up of New York is right on pace? How do you reconcile those 2?

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [49]

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Yes. So I would disagree. I would say from a physical occupancy perspective, the lease up in New York is equal to or better in some cases than we would've underwritten. Some of the stores are quite large in terms of the amount of square feet that we are leasing. So please with the physical occupancy pace, again, on the rental rate side, absolutely rental rates are lower than we would have expected when we first thought about the individual deals.

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Operator [50]

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(Operator Instructions) Your next question will be from Todd Stender of Wells Fargo.

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Todd Jakobsen Stender, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Director & Senior Analyst [51]

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And just to go back to that last question, I think it has to do with the size of the properties. When you look at the Queens and Bayonne properties that are just delivered. Can you speak their sizes? And then how about your original yield expectations that you had for those 2? Maybe what they are now, if they've changed and have any of the inputs changed?

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [52]

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Yes. So on the Queens and Bayonne, again, relative to stable assets in those markets, our expectation is about $175 million to $200 million over stabilized cap rate in those markets in terms of our expected yield at first level of stabilization. In terms of the size of those 2 assets, they're both -- they're not the 200,000 square footers, I don't have it at my fingertips. I think both of them are in the more traditional kind of 80,000 square foot rentable sort of range.

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Timothy M. Martin, CubeSmart - CFO & Treasurer [53]

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They've each been open for about 20 days. So far so good.

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Todd Jakobsen Stender, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Director & Senior Analyst [54]

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Yes. But that spread over that market cap rate, is essentially that remains -- unchanged? It's just the maybe the benchmark cap rate moves around?

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [55]

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Yes. It's gotten a little tighter. I mean we would've gone into deals in similar markets 2 or 3 years ago expecting more 2 to 250, and now it's more like 175 to 200.

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Todd Jakobsen Stender, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Director & Senior Analyst [56]

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And then where we are in the cycle? And how about the Arlington project that's your, I guess, most prolonged project? What kind of yield and growth and maybe lease-up period expectations are underwritten on that?

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [57]

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Yes. Again, I think on that one, relative to the market, about the same, again, in that sort of 175 to 200 over stabilized cap rate, that project is going to be an adjacent building to our existing Shirlington, which opened a few years back. So we're going to put, we're going to have, I think, close to 200,000 rentable square feet in that area when both stores -- when the new store opens adjacent to the other. There's going to be a lot of square footage in that market. And so I think our lease up expectation on that new building is probably closer to 4 years and 3.

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Operator [58]

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And ladies and gentlemen, that will conclude our question-and-answer session. I would like to hand the conference back over to Christopher Marr for his closing remarks.

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Christopher P. Marr, CubeSmart - CEO, President & Trustee [59]

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Thank you. Thanks, everybody for your interest. As a bit of a follow up, we have done 62 rentals at the Bayonne store in the last couple of days, and it's currently 5% occupied so off to a great start there in North Jersey. So thank you all for listening and your focus on our company, and we look forward to speaking to you again when we report the second quarter results. Have a great weekend.

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Operator [60]

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Thank you, sir. Ladies and gentlemen, the conference has concluded. Thank you for attending today's presentation. You may now disconnect your lines. And once again, the conference has concluded, you may disconnect your line.