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Itron, Inc. (ITRI - Analyst Report) reached a new milestone with the installation of its four millionth smart meter by Southern California Edison (SCE). Earlier, SCE had installed Itron's smart meters and associated smart metering systems to support various programs and services which allow customers to manage their electricity usage and cut energy usage and utility bills.

SCE is one of the nation's largest electric utilities in California (central, coastal and southern part). Edison SmartConnect, the smart metering program of SCE uses Itron’s smart electric meters and network communication infrastructure. The technology provides consumers with advanced programs and services (including Budget Assistant and Save Power Days) and access to electricity usage data.

Itron’s smart grid solution was also selected by the Burlington Electric Department (BED) to manage its electric grid efficiently. The smart grid project of BED will include 20,000 Itron smart meters, network communication infrastructure and professional services.

Earlier this year, Itron had announced its decision to acquire SmartSynch, Inc. to strengthen its integrated cellular communications offering as well as provide a wider choice across the spectrum of smart metering deployments to customers. The value of the deal is $100 million.

The upcoming acquisition of SmartSynch will position Itron to win new business projects. The company expects the acquisition to be accretive around 2013 and add $50 million to 2012 revenues. 

In addition, the company is focusing on improving efficiency of the global manufacturing arena, driven by its restructuring efforts. It has closed two facilities and reduced headcount by 140. Further, it has plans to close a number of smaller businesses during the second quarter of 2012

The company, however, faces tough competition from a large number of companies offering similar products, systems, and services. Some of its well-known competitors include General Electric Company (GE - Analyst Report), Cooper Industries Ltd. and Badger Meter Inc. (BMI - Analyst Report)

Currently, we have a Neutral recommendation on Itron, which carries a Zacks #3 Rank (short-term Hold rating).

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