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Itron, Inc. (ITRI - Analyst Report) has signed a deal with C3 Energy, a leader in energy efficiency and customer engagement management solutions for utilities, to jointly market an energy solution to North American utilities.

The smart metering technology and data management solutions of Itron together with the energy management solution of C3 Energy will facilitate utilities in helping customers to take care of their energy consumption more efficiently.

Based in Redwood City, California, C3 Energy enables its customers to increase their profitability by optimizing their energy management strategy. It offers software solutions helping companies to understand, optimize, and report on their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions to reduce cost, risks and environmental impact.

Itron aims at providing its efficient smart meter technologies to empower utilities to better manage their natural resources for a sustainable future. At the same time, the company is partnering with leading facilities that fortify the utilities in managing the resources in a better way.

The strategy benefits Itron in expanding its smart meter product portfolio. Moreover, the company focuses on increasing its geographical footprint to reach a wider customer base.     

Earlier, in September, Itron partnered with leading smart grid solutions provider PrimeStone to offer their energy solutions to the customers in Latin America. The partnership intends to provide a wide range of smart metering and smart grid solutions to the customers, which will ensure better management of energy distribution.

Recently, Itron won the nation’s largest gas metering contract from the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (SRE - Analyst Report). Itron will be supplying roughly 1.5 million of its gas meters and more than 600,000 gas regulators to SoCalGas.

Itron has been undertaking restructuring initiatives to increase its efficiency and lowering manufacturing costs. As a result, the company anticipates annualized cost savings of $15 million in 2012, which is expected to further increase to $30 million in 2013. However, it expects to book associated pre-tax charges in the range of $75-$80 million, a major portion of which is expected to be incurred in 2012. Higher operating expenses are likely to create margin headwinds in 2012 and first half of 2013.

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

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