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SEATTLE-Based on sector-leading same-store sales growth, solid industry fundaments and the prospects for accelerating funds from operations growth during the second half of the year, Salomon Smith Barney has upgraded Shurgard Storage Centers from neutral to outperform.

“We believe FFO growth could accelerate towards the 10% level,largely due to the elimination of dilution from on balance sheet development, and other non-operating factors, Jonathan Litt writes in a research note. “However, to be conservative we are not changing our FFO growth assumptions as this time.

“With the stock up this year, we missed the bottom,” he notes. “However, after speaking with management, we feel confident that downward earnings revisions are behind the company, and that they should begin to show FFO growth commensurate with its same store performance.”

Litt raised his 12-month price target to $32 per share. On Monday, prior to the upgrade, Shurgard shares were trading at $29.25, just below the nearly three-year high of $29.26 set last week and up 33.8% from December’s low of $21.88. In afternoon trading Thursday, the stock was at $29.98, up 2 cents. For the three months ended March 31, revenues rose 17% to $51.7 million. Profits fell 3% to $8.8 million.

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