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Itron Inc. (ITRI - Analyst Report) has introduced a simplified smart grid ecosystem approach, Nexergy, in Europe. Nexergy coupled with meters, communication technology and software will address any specific business needs. It empowers utilities with technologies that are faster and cost effective.

Nexergy is a collection of five distinct ecosystem architectures – Nexergy P2P, Nexergy PLC, Nexergy P2H, Nexergy P2C and Nexergy SPS. The portfolio will benefit utilities in revenue protection, renewable energy integration, consumer engagement and load control among others.

Itron decided to launch Nexergy keeping in mind the soaring demand for smart grid solutions that meet the business requirements. The technology that fortifies Itron’s smart grid portfolio simplifies deployment of smart grids, enabling it to cater to a wider customer base across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Itron aims at upgrading its smart meter platform in Europe. Earlier, the company decided to roll out smart meter gas platform in Europe providing smart meter technology. The gas meters empower utilities to better manage their resources for a sustainable future.

Recently, Itron won the nation’s largest gas metering contract from Southern California Gas Company, a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (SRE - Analyst Report). Itron will be supplying gas meter and gas regulators to the gas company.

Itron is investing significantly in offering innovative smart meter solutions to serve greater number of customers. The move will enable it to increase its market share in the industry.

The company is also undertaking restructuring initiatives to increase its efficiency and lowering manufacturing costs. It anticipates annualized cost savings of $15 million in 2012, which is expected to further increase to $30 million in 2013.

But at the same time, Itron expects to book associated pre-tax charges in the range of $75-$80 million, a major portion of which will be incurred in 2012.  Therefore, higher operating expenses are likely to create margin headwinds in 2012 and first half of 2013.

Based in Liberty Lake, Washington, Itron Inc., along with its subsidiaries, is one of the principal technology providers to the energy and water industries worldwide. The company’s broad product portfolio includes electricity, water, gas and thermal energy measurement and control technology along with communications systems, software and professional services.

Itron retains a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold). We have a long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.

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