) to hold from buy.
Late Thursday the storage facility operator posted $0.70 vs. $0.75 second-quarter funds from operations per share. Analyst Michael Mueller says weak occupancy trends are continuing. She notes second-quarter funds from operations was $0.06 below his estimate, and that the company's second-quarter occupancy rate fell 360 basis points to 86.4%, while same-store net operating income growth was -6.8%.
Mueller says aggressive advertising and discounting helped occupancy early in the quarter, but adds that vacancies rose when promotions ceased; July occupancy appears even lower at 84% to 85%. He sees downward earnings revisions, low visibility, and no clear catalyst. Mueller says he is moving to the sidelines for the time being. He cut his $3.20 2002 funds from operations per share estimate to $2.85, and cut the $3.38 2003 estimate to $3.03.