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"Helping the world to make the most of its energy and water resources" is both the business and passion of Itron (NASDAQ:ITRI), a Washington State based company.

Itron produces a wide variety of products, including solid-state meters and automated meter reading technology to enterprise-wide software platforms and real-time analytic applications, for energy and water providers around the world. Currently, these products are in high demand as energy prices have skyrocketed and the nature of providing energy to consumers has changed drastically due to structural changes in the global and domestic energy markets. Furthermore, water resources are, in many parts of the world, well below sustainable levels given current usage patterns, propelling the sell of Itron's portfolio of water utility products as water providers desperately seek to curtail wasteful practices. These developments have, in turn, generated very positive results for shareholders.

The company recently reported strong fourth quarter and record yearly operating results for the period ending Dec. 31, 2006. The company also reported its future profit outlook, which was well ahead of analysts estimates. So far, the year-to-date performance of Itron's shares has been phenomenal and, as of March 8th, 2007, stood at 21.2 percent.

Recent events point to even further growth in the company's shares. On February 25th the company announced it would acquire Actaris, a European competitor for approximately $1 billion, a deal which will add 20 to 30 cents a share in 2007 earnings, according to management. Then on March 8th, the company announced it had received the largest ever international order for SENTINEL solid-state electricity meters from Mexico's largest utility. Itron's vice president and general manager of international relations, Doug Staker, in remarks regarding the deal, stated, "This is a very important step forward for Itron in this market." Speaking more broadly, Mr. Stoker stated,

"On top of other meter sales in the region, this agreement makes Itron one of the top meter suppliers in Mexico. We're optimistic about continuing to grow our presence in Mexico and throughout Latin America."

With a leading technological edge, Itron is poised to continue to generate awesome returns for shareholders and should be considered by all long term investors who can withstand the volatility that goes along with investing in small cap stocks.

ITRI 1-yr chart


Disclosure: Author has no position in ITRI.