Why Itron Inc. Shares Popped Today

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 trading nearly 12% higher this afternoon after the smart-meter specialist reported a double beat on its first-quarter earnings.

So what: Itron finished up its first quarter with $474.7 million in revenue -- a 6% year-over-year gain -- and earnings of $0.31 per share, and both results trounced Wall Street's expectations, which had sought $443.4 million in revenue and $0.26 in EPS. The company held off on updating its guidance, which was last provided in the previous quarter, until its next quarterly earnings release, but it did announce the impending departure of CFO Steve Helmbrecht, who will remain at his post until the end of the year so a replacement can be found for this vital executive position.

Now what: While the double beat was a good reward for patient investors, it can hardly erase the fact that Itron's core metrics have all been in decline since mid-2012, and the stock has also lingered in a low place since then as well. Today's pop is just another day in the zig-zag performance of this rather volatile stock, but in the end shares have often wound up trading near where they were last month, or last year, after absorbing a big move in one direction or the other. I wouldn't read too much into today's pop, as it's too early in Itron's turnaround efforts for investors to embrace its shares again.

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