Itron (ITRI) Dismal Quarter, Down 9%

Companies involved in the smart grid should do very well in the future, but for now the behemoth in this space, Itron (ITRI) will have to wait to benefit.  The company just reported an awful quarter reporting an EPS of .33/share missing estimates by .07/share on revenues of $389 million.  That’s a 20% haircut on revenues over last year and a 60% plunge in earnings. 

The CEO understated the poor the quarter, calling it “soft”.  “Business was soft in the first quarter,” said Malcolm Unsworth, president and CEO. “We are seeing effects of the slowdown in the U.S. economy and our International results have been affected by a stronger dollar. Nonetheless, we had very strong bookings and our total backlog is at record levels, which gives us confidence in the longer term.”

The lower revenue in 2009 was primarily driven by fewer electric meters shipped during the quarter due to the completion of a number of AMR contracts in 2008 and related to the economic downturn. Nearly 90% of the decrease in International revenue was due to foreign exchange rates while the remainder was due to product mix.

Wachovia downgraded the company today from Outperform to Market Perform and commented on the “surprisingly dismal quarter.”

“We are cutting our rating on ITRI to Market Perform following surprisingly dismal Q1 results that leave us with extremely limited visibility on the near- to intermediate-term outlook. Q1 EPS of $0.33 was well short of our $0.60 estimate and $0.52 consensus due to lower revenue (-19% yr/yr), largely driven by an unfavorable currency impact, and relative to our estimate, significantly higher operating expenses (25% of revenue in Q109 vs. 21.7% in Q108)…For now, lowering our 2009E by nearly 22% to $2.70 from $3.45 to reflect Q1 shortfall; we continue to review our numbers.”

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