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Itron, Inc. (ITRI - Analyst Report) recently entered into an agreement with CPFL Energia, the largest private group in the Brazilian energy sector that provides electricity distribution, generation, and retail services, to supply 20,000 Itron smart meters.
 
Itron will provide smart meters, meter data collection system and support services that will form a part of CPFL’s Smart Metering System. It is a reference program for advanced metering infrastructure in Brazil, targeted mainly toward commercial and industrial clients. The project is expected to be implemented in 2013. After installation, the Itron meters will be integrated with CPFL’s meter data management and billing systems. The unified metering platform will serve as the foundation for future smart grid initiatives.
 
Itron’s smart meters and data collection system will help CPFL manage the meters, identify problems and collect measurement data at periodic intervals from a remote location. Any issues can be detected and addressed in time. These capabilities are essential for the success of the utility’s program and will help reduce operational expenses and sustain revenue over the tenure of the system.
 
In addition to flexible data collection and communication systems, the Itron solution includes the latest-generation SL 7000 meter. The meter equipped to support evolving technologies is compatible with the dynamic market as well as CPFL’s needs.
 
Earlier this month, Itron entered into an agreement to install around 11,000 advanced residential water meters for the customers of Floresti, Moldova, through the water utility service, Servicii Comunale Floresti. In June, Itron partnered with Australia’s largest water utility, Sydney Water, to replace old meters with Itron’s high efficiency ones. Henceforth, the residential and commercial customers of Sydney Water in Sydney will be served with Itron’s water meters for the next three years.
 
The Brazilian Electricity Regulatory Agency (Aneel) announced earlier this month that smart meters will be mandatory only for new customers (excluding low-income households) effective February 2014. It will be optional for any other customers who request replacement after that date. It is estimated approximately 4.5 million new meters will be installed from 2014 through 2017 and Brazil’s utilities spend about $670 million per year between 2014 and 2017. 
 
However, this is a let down from the earlier expectation that the Brazilian government would mandate utilities to replace all 65 million of the country’s current meters with smart meters by 2020. Nevertheless, there remains opportunities for smart meter vendors like Itron that can meet the needs of Brazil’s power sector that is plagued with high levels of energy theft and power outages.
 
Based in Liberty Lake, Washington, Itron Inc. is one of the principal technology providers to the energy and water industries worldwide. It produces electricity, gas, water, and heat meters, data collection and utility software solutions along with various other associated metering products for residential, commercial and industrial and transmission and distribution customers. It has two reportable segments: Energy and Water.
 
Itron faces tough competition from Badger Meter, Inc. (BMI - Analyst Report) and General Electric Company (GE - Analyst Report). The company retains a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold). We have a long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.

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