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Itron (ITRI) Soars to 52-Week High, Time to Cash Out?

Zacks Equity Research

Shares of Itron (ITRI) have been strong performers lately, with the stock up 17.2% over the past month. The stock hit a new 52-week high of $69.81 in the previous session. Itron has gained 47.4% since the start of the year compared to the 18% move for the Zacks Computer and Technology sector and the 14.4% return for the Zacks Electronics - Testing Equipment industry.

What's Driving the Outperformance?

The stock has a great record of positive earnings surprises, as it hasn't missed our earnings consensus estimate in any of the last four quarters. In its last earnings report on August 5, 2019, Itron reported EPS of $0.87 versus consensus estimate of $0.48 while it beat the consensus revenue estimate by 5.49%.

For the current fiscal year, Itron is expected to post earnings of $2.85 per share on $2.47 billion in revenues. This represents a 7.55% change in EPS on a 4.05% change in revenues. For the next fiscal year, the company is expected to earn $3.47 per share on $2.51 billion in revenues. This represents a year-over-year change of 21.75% and 1.53%, respectively.

Valuation Metrics

Itron may be at a 52-week high right now, but what might the future hold for the stock? A key aspect of this question is taking a look at valuation metrics in order to determine if the company has run ahead of itself.

On this front, we can look at the Zacks Style Scores, as these give investors a variety of ways to comb through stocks (beyond looking at the Zacks Rank of a security). These styles are represented by grades running from A to F in the categories of Value, Growth, and Momentum, while there is a combined VGM Score as well. The idea behind the style scores is to help investors pick the most appropriate Zacks Rank stocks based on their individual investment style.

Itron has a Value Score of C. The stock's Growth and Momentum Scores are B and B, respectively, giving the company a VGM Score of B.

In terms of its value breakdown, the stock currently trades at 24.5X current fiscal year EPS estimates. On a trailing cash flow basis, the stock currently trades at 11.7X versus its peer group's average of 20.3X. Additionally, the stock has a PEG ratio of 0.98. This isn't enough to put the company in the top echelon of all stocks we cover from a value perspective.

Zacks Rank

We also need to look at the Zacks Rank for the stock, as this supersedes any trend on the style score front. Fortunately, Itron currently has a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy) thanks to favorable earnings estimate revisions from covering analysts.

Since we recommend that investors select stocks carrying Zacks Rank of 1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy) and Style Scores of A or B, it looks as if Itron meets the list of requirements. Thus, it seems as though Itron shares could have a bit more room to run in the near term.

How Does Itron Stack Up to the Competition?

Shares of Itron have been moving higher, and the company still appears to be a decent choice, but what about the rest of the industry? Some of its industry peers are also looking good, including Celestica (CLS), Koninklijke Philips N.V. (PHG), and Anixter International (AXE), all of which currently have a Zacks Rank of at least #2 and a VGM Score of at least B, making them well-rounded choices.

The Zacks Industry Rank is in the top 23% of all the industries we have in our universe, so it looks like there are some nice tailwinds for Itron, even beyond its own solid fundamental situation.

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