Life Storage CEO David Rogers said the Amherst real estate investment trust acquired 122 self storage facilities last year and moved into the California and Las Vegas markets. (Mark Mulville / Buffalo News file photo)

Life Storage's earnings rose by 30 percent during the fourth quarter as higher rent and rising occupancy at its self storage facilities helped the Amherst-based company's profits top analyst forecasts.

Life Storage, which was known as Sovran Self Storage until its $1.3 billion Life Storage acquisition in July, had funds from operations of $60.7 million, or $1.31 per share, compared with $46.4 million, or $1.28 per share, a year ago. Analysts expected the company to earn $1.30 per share.

Funds from operations are a closely watched measure of a real estate investment trust's earnings. It is calculated by taking a company's net income and adding back items such as amortization and depreciation.

The company said occupancy levels at its 650 self storage facilities, located in 29 states mostly in the eastern half of the country, improved to 90.9 percent from 90.4 percent a year ago at stores that have been open for at least 12 months. Average rents increased by 3 percent to $13.31 per square foot.

Life Storage said the process of rebranding its Uncle Bob's stores to the Life Storage name is on track. The company has said the rebranding is expected to be completed by April.

[Related: Sovran Self Storage pays $1.3 billion for California storage company]

The company said it expects its adjusted funds from operations this year to range between $5.50 and $5.60 per share, which is in line with the $5.58 per share that analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research were expecting.

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