Itron: Q4 and Fiscal 2010 Results

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Itron, Inc.  reported financial results for its fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2010. Highlights include:

    * Record quarterly and full year revenues of $620.7 million and $2.26 billion;
    * Quarterly and record full year GAAP diluted EPS of 65 cents and $2.56, respectively;
    * Quarterly non-GAAP diluted EPS of 95 cents;
    *  Record full year non-GAAP diluted EPS of $3.89;
    * Non-GAAP tax rate for the quarter of 20.6% reflecting benefits from the retroactive extension of the U.S. research and development tax credit passed in the fourth quarter and lower than forecasted income in higher tax jurisdictions;
    * Twelve-month backlog of $913 million and total backlog of $1.6 billion; and
    * Quarterly bookings of $581 million.

In addition, Itron announced that it has restated financial results for the quarters ended March 31, June 30, and September 30, 2010 which will be set forth in its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2010. These revisions were made primarily to defer revenue that had been incorrectly recognized on one contract due to a misinterpretation of an extended warranty obligation. The effect was to reduce revenue and earnings in each of the first three quarters of the year. For the first nine months of 2010, total revenue was reduced by $6.1 million and both GAAP and non-GAAP diluted EPS were reduced by 11 cents. All comparative information within this release is on a restated basis.

“Our record results for the year resulted from our continued commitment to technological innovation as well as our balanced and diversified portfolio of products and solutions for the electric, gas and water industries,” said Malcolm Unsworth, president and CEO. “Our main objectives in 2010 were to successfully deploy our smart metering solutions for our large contracts in North America, prepare for developing opportunities in Europe and other regions of the world, and grow our gas and water businesses. We met those objectives and more and are positioned for continued growth in 2011.”

Operations Highlights:

Revenues increased $143.8 million, or 30.2%, for the quarter and $571.8 million, or 33.9%, for the year compared to the same periods last year. The increase in revenues was primarily driven by higher shipments of smart meters and modules in North America. During the fourth quarter we shipped 1.4 million OpenWay units. The increase in fourth quarter revenue included an $11.5 million unfavorable effect from changes in foreign currency exchange rates. The unfavorable foreign exchange effect on revenues for the year was $5.3 million.

Gross margin for the quarter was 29.9% which was lower than the prior year fourth quarter margin of 30.5%. Both segments contributed to the decline from the prior year. Itron North America declined 130 basis points from fourth quarter 2009 primarily due to a higher mix of OpenWay revenue which, including installation services, currently has a lower margin than non-OpenWay revenue. Itron International gross margin declined 120 basis points from fourth quarter 2009 primarily due to special charges. International gross margins were also impacted by higher material costs which were offset by higher volumes and a more favorable product mix.

Operating expenses, excluding amortization of intangibles, were $124.1 million, or 20.0% of revenue, for the quarter compared to $104.1 million, or 21.8% of revenue, in the prior year. The increase was due primarily to higher compensation expenses as well as research and development costs for new and enhanced products.

Net income and diluted EPS for the fourth quarter and year were $26.6 million, or 65 cents per share, and $104.8 million, or $2.56 per share. This compares with net income of $5.2 million, or 13 cents per share, and a loss of $2.2 million, or 6 cents per share, in the same periods in 2009. The increase in 2010 net income was primarily due to higher operating income in our North America segment.

Forward Looking Statements:

This release contains forward-looking statements concerning our expectations about operations, financial performance, sales, earnings and cash flows. These statements reflect our current plans and expectations and are based on information currently available. The statements rely on a number of assumptions and estimates, which could be inaccurate, and which are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to vary materially from those anticipated. Risks and uncertainties include the rate and timing of customer demand for our products, rescheduling of current customer orders, changes in estimated liabilities for product warranties, changes in laws and regulations, our dependence on new product development and intellectual property, future acquisitions, changes in estimates for stock-based and bonus compensation, increasing volatility in foreign exchange rates, international business risks and other factors which are more fully described in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2009 and other reports on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Itron undertakes no obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements, including our business outlook.

2011 Guidance:

Itron’s guidance for 2011 is as follows:

    * Revenue between $2.15 billion and $2.30 billion
    * Non-GAAP diluted EPS between $3.95 and $4.40

Our guidance assumes a Euro to U.S. dollar exchange rate of $1.35, average shares outstanding of approximately 41.4 million and a non-GAAP effective tax rate between 27% and 29%.

Non-GAAP Financial Information:

To supplement our consolidated financial statements presented in accordance with GAAP, we use certain non-GAAP financial measures, including non-GAAP operating expense, non-GAAP operating income, non-GAAP net income, non-GAAP diluted EPS, adjusted EBITDA, and free cash flow. We provide these non-GAAP financial measures because we believe they provide greater transparency and represent supplemental information used by management in its financial and operational decision making. Specifically, these non-GAAP financial measures are provided to enhance investors’ overall understanding of our current financial performance and our future anticipated performance by excluding infrequent costs, particularly those associated with acquisitions. We exclude certain infrequent costs, particularly those associated with acquisitions, in our non-GAAP financial measures as we believe the net result is a measure of our core business. Non-GAAP performance measures should be considered in addition to, and not as a substitute for, results prepared in accordance with GAAP. Finally, our non-GAAP financial measures may be different from those reported by other companies. A more detailed discussion of why we use non-GAAP financial measures, the limitations of using such measures, and reconciliations between non-GAAP and the nearest GAAP financial measures are included in this press release.

 About Itron:

At Itron, we’re dedicated to delivering end-to-end smart grid and smart distribution solutions to electric, gas and water utilities around the globe. Our company is the world’s leading provider of smart metering, data collection and utility software systems, with nearly 8,000 utilities worldwide relying on our technology to optimize the delivery and use of energy and water. Our offerings include electricity, gas, water and heat meters; network communication technology; collection systems and related software applications; and professional services. To realize your smarter energy and water future, start here:

Itron, Inc.
Ranny Dwiggins, 509-891-3443
Vice President, Investor Relations
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