Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Itron (NASDAQ:ITRI) are down nearly 10% after plunging as much as 14% in early trading today after a pre-market earnings report gave investors little cause for optimism in the near term.

So what: Itron whiffed badly on both its top and bottom lines for the first quarter, reporting $447.5 million in revenue and $0.31 in earnings per share. The company's top line shrank 22% year over year and missed Wall Street's consensus of $466.6 million, and earnings were a whopping $0.14 per share below the $0.45 consensus. Itron offered little in the way of good news, talking about "future growth prospects" and "investing in innovation for the long term" while pointing out that the best it can do in the near term is to improve operating margins by cutting costs.

Now what: Itron's hardly expensive for a company that promises to have a big role in the smart grid upgrade the world's electrical systems so sorely need. However, near-term sequential declines could suppress growth for some time, so an investment here should only be one you feel confident in on a rather long time frame of, say, five or more years. The opportunity bears closer scrutiny, but I wouldn't jump to call it a buying opportunity just yet.

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Fool contributor Alex Planes holds no financial position in any company mentioned here, and neither does The Motley Fool. Add Alex on Google+ or follow him on Twitter @TMFBiggles for more insight into markets, history, and technology.

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