Itron (NASDAQ:ITRI) is not a “clean tech” company as much as it is a company used by energy and water providers throughout the world – clean tech and well as traditional ones. A provider of hardware, software, and services used to integrate the creation, measurement, collection, management, application, and forecasting of data for electric, gas, and water utilities worldwide, it operates in three segments: Electricity Metering, Meter Data Collection, and Software Solutions.
These groups provide everything from the residential electronic meters like the ones your utility company reads once a month, to handheld computers for meter data collection, to software applications for distribution-system design and optimization, to forecasting consulting services. Founded in 1977, the company is headquartered in Spokane, Washington.
Itron’s products and services allow providers to collect more detailed, reliable, and timely data to optimize the delivery and use of energy and water. Its offerings are useful to help companies maximize profit; meanwhile, the company claims that by creating efficient solutions, their products ultimately help the environment by making the use of energy and water more efficient. While the latter looks good in a brochure and may help in the future, the former point --making companies more efficient and helping their bottom line -- is what makes Itron a company to pick right now.
As energy and water become scarce, Itron’s services, which span all aspects of the industry, will be turned to more and more by providers. Their products already collect and communicate data from more than 40 million automatic reading meters, and as our population grows, this number is going to grow.
Moreover, with this summer’s heat waves and accompanying electricity crises, utilities are eager to create a variable pricing structure,so that those who use electricity at peak times will be charged more, while those who conserve energy at peak times will get a discount. But in order for this to happen on a big scale, electric utilities will need to upgrade to better, automatic meters that can read, process and analyze consumption information. Look to Itron to be that provider.
Type of stock: A mid-cap growth company in the tech sector, Itron provides a wide portfolio of products and services for energy and water companies, including automated meter systems, consultancy services, and design and analysis software.
Price target: Earnings in the last year have accelerated, and this company’s stock shot past $70 in May; it has fallen steadily since, and is now down into the high $40s. I would snatch this one up right now.