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Itron announces new stock repurchase plan, buying up to $50M in shares

On Wednesday, the same day Itron Inc. posted its 4Q and 2013 fiscal year results, the company also announced it plans to repurchase up to $50 million in common stock.

Like Apple earlier this month, the company knows it wants to protect shareholder value, and buybacks are one of the basic tools to accomplish that.

Itron's announcement was timed, appropriately, to a fairly dismal quarterly report. The company failed to hit analyst earnings targets.

Its plan is to make the purchases over the next 12 months, and will start on March 7 this year. That date marks the end of a current repurchase program.

Itron's formal release said the following:

“This new repurchase program reaffirms our commitment to returning value to shareholders,” said Philip Mezey, Itron president and chief executive officer. “We have repurchased over 2.6 million shares since the fourth quarter of 2011, representing nearly seven percent of the outstanding shares. The strength of our balance sheet provides us with the flexibility to continue repurchasing shares while investing in growth opportunities for the business.”

 

Itron’s next CEO offers management ideas online, via HBR.org

On Monday Itron Inc. announced that Philip Mezey, who's been at Itron since 2003, will step into the CEO and president's role at the end of the year. He's taking over for LeRoy Nosbaum, who is retiring for the second time in three years.

Nosbaum retired in 2009 and then came back in late 2011 to fill in as interim CEO. Nosbaum said at the time he would help until the next CEO of Itron was found.

Mezey, 52, joined Itron after being one of the principals at Silicon Energy, which Itron acquired in early 2003. He was VP of product development for the company, which developed apps and software tools for large customers and utilities.

Mezey said in an interview this week he knows the CEO job at Itron is demanding. The job he's held at Itron, COO of the energy group, has kept him busy traveling. “Traveling is pretty much my full-time job,” Mezey said. The CEO's job will be just as itinerant.

When he doesn't travel, those days he considers his happy breaks from the routine.

He's busy enough that Mezey doesn't have a home in the Spokane area, he said. He still maintains a home in Northern California, where Silicon Energy was based.

As a stroke of timing, Harvard Business Review's online site Monday ran an opinion piece today by Mezey, titled “A New CEO's Reinvention Road Map.” Mezey offers comments there on why he subscribes to the notion that a company has to balance maintaining its core assets while also committing to making big changes.

All I know is, if I worked at Itron, I'd go to the HBR site and post some serious apple-polishing comments. Seriously, guys, here's your new CEO offering some major thoughts and as of Tuesday, not one person has posted a response.

You can thank me later for the suggestion.

Itron selects from inside, choosing Philip Mezey to replace LeRoy Nosbaum

About 20 months ago Itron (based in Liberty Lake) announced Malcolm Unsworth would take over as CEO from longtime top guy LeRoy Nosbaum.

That didn't last too long. In September 2011 the company board brought back Nosbaum and asked him to right the ship. Nosbaum said at the time he'd only be aboard as long as it took to get results and help find a successor.

Monday the board chose the successor, Phillip Mezey, who has been with Itron since 2003 and has been 2003. president and chief operating officer for Itron’s Global Energy segment since March 2011.

The 2009 photo above is one of Unsworth on the left, Mezey on the right. Mezey was not yet head of Global Energy at Itron.  Does anyone know where Unsworth is today?

Itron is a maker of software, services and meters for electric, gas and electric utilities.

Nosbaum steps down agains on Dec. 31 but will remain a consultant with Itron and assist Mezey as he moves on with the job. Mezey will also become board president after Jan. 1.

Investors remain concerned and hopeful; in 2010 Itron shares lifted off into the high $70 range and then started a long retreat. In fall of 2011 the price per share dropped to around $34.

Since then, the share price is up, but only in the $40-41 range, and investors and customers are hoping to see Itron battle back and have Mezey work some magic with new deals and with existing customers.