Mini School
Source: Mobile Mini.

Just about everyone can appreciate how easy it is to gather more stuff than you have room for in your home. Even as typical homes have gotten bigger, more people have sought ways to store their possessions elsewhere. Yet with the hassle of renting an off-site storage facility and then transporting all your stuff to a remote location, portable storage providers like Mobile Mini (NASDAQ:MINI) have found a lucrative niche to cater to homeowners and business owners who want someone who will come to them. Mobile Mini just released its third-quarter earnings numbers, and its strong results show how much demand there is for the company's services. Let's look at how Mobile Mini did last quarter.

Storing up success at Mobile Mini 
Mobile Mini's third-quarter numbers illustrate the company's growing upward momentum. Total revenue climbed 8% to $113.3 million year over year, with sales of $104.8 million from its leasing arrangements making up the bulk of that revenue. Adjusted net income jumped 16% to $15.2 million, producing adjusted earnings per share of $0.33, which was a penny higher than most investors had expected from the mobile-storage company.

A number of factors contributed to Mobile Mini's success. The company has steadily pushed up its rental rates, with a 1.5% sequential gain during the quarter bringing its year-over-year increase to 8%. Moreover, on new units that Mobile Mini is offering to customers now, rates are 11.5% higher than they were at the same time last year. Fleet utilization figures were also encouraging, with average figures for the quarter approaching 68% representing continued improvement. In addition, the company said that strength in September led to final utilization rates of 71%, which would represent a solid accomplishment if it holds up.

At the same time, Mobile Mini is also paying closer attention to margins. The portable storage business involves the logistical challenge of making sure equipment and resources are in the right place at the right time, and Mobile Mini has continued to reposition its assets toward markets that have the most demand for the company's services. Even as the company makes investments in maintenance and repairs to preserve the value of its equipment, Mobile Mini has limited incremental expenses to just $3 million.

Mini Storage
Source: Mobile Mini.

CEO Erik Olsson attributed Mobile Mini's success to the completed implementation of its sales reorganization last quarter, along with higher productivity that has complemented greater demand for its services. As Olsson said, "Longer term, we expect the enhancements we have made over the past year to our fleet and our sales organization to translate into continued strong growth and margin expansion."

What's ahead for Mobile Mini
The big question facing Mobile Mini is how well it can penetrate the many market niches that need storage services. It's easy for most investors to think of homeowners as making up the bulk of the storage business's customer base. But Mobile Mini has positioned itself to meet a huge number of different needs.

Mini Location

Source: Mobile Mini.

In serving commercial customers, Mobile Mini stresses both temporary and permanent storage needs. On one hand, events such as new store openings and seasonal events can require brief ramp-ups in inventory, making portable storage an attractive short-term solution. But Mobile Mini also caters to those with longer-term needs such as storing business records. Similarly, in the construction industry, Mobile Mini understands the value of having storage units available when and where they're needed, providing everything from standard containers to full mobile offices that offer security and convenience for any customer looking to establish a temporary presence on a work site.

With all these avenues for growth, Mobile Mini wants to see continued strength in the overall economy. As business activity rises, so too will Mobile Mini's opportunities to capitalize on that activity, and it can cater particularly to customers who are less certain about how long the good times will last and therefore don't want to make expensive capital expenditures for more permanent solutions.

Mobile Mini's dividend payments are another attractive trait of the stock. As long as the economy keeps climbing, Mobile Mini will be able to capitalize on the never-ending need to find ways to protect the things its customers hold most dear.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Mobile Mini. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.