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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Itron shares fall after snub from PG&E

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Itron Inc. shares dropped Thursday after PG&E Corp. did not select the maker of meter-reading systems for a contract, prompting analysts to speculate about Itron’s long-term growth prospects.

Wednesday, after the financial markets closed, Itron Chairman and Chief Executive LeRoy Nosbaum said the company had received notification from PG&E that Itron wasn’t short-listed for the next phase of the California utility’s automatic-meter project.

“However, as we have previously acknowledged,” Nosbaum said, “we did not include any large orders from California utilities into our financial guidance for 2005.”

Spokane-based Itron supplies data acquisition and communication products for electric, gas and water utilities.

PG&E, the San Francisco-based parent of Pacific Gas & Electric, serves about 4.3 million electric customers and 3.6 million gas customers in California, according to the latest available data.

First Albany analyst Sanjay Shrestha lowered his investment rating on Itron’s shares to “buy” from “strong buy” Thursday.

He cited the PG&E project, which “clearly impacts long-term earnings potential and mutes meaningful upside to 2006 earnings per share.”

Itron shares fell $2.13, or 5.1 percent, to close at $39.39 Thursday on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Wednesday, after market close, Itron said it anticipates second-quarter revenue “trending slightly higher” than the Thomson Financial estimate of $126 million.

Itron also said new order bookings in April and May were $115 million, ahead of the $117 million in all of its first quarter.

Wall Street is expecting the company to report second-quarter earnings per share of 34 cents, on average, according to Thomson Financial.

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