Itron (NSDAQ: ITRI) on Thursday missed analyst expectations, which could signal clouds ahead for other energy-management companies posting third-quarter earnings.

"Itron is probably the bellwether of the group," said John Quealy, an analyst at financial-service firm Canaccord Adams, on Wednesday. Quealy, whose firm has previously done business with Itron, had said the company would do well and would retain its 60-percent market share in the future.

Itron posted a third-quarter net income of $21 million, or 65 cents per share, excluding some debt payments and one-time expenses, compared with $15 million, or 56 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Analysts had expected 77 cents per share.

Including those one-time expenses and debt payments, Itron netted a loss of $3.4 million, or 11 cents per share, compared with a net income of $9.2 million, or 32 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2006.

The company also said its gross margin fell to 33 percent in the third quarter, compared to 41 percent for the same quarter last year. North American margins were higher at 40 percent, Itron said.

"Our results for the quarter were about in line with our expectations," said CEO LeRoy Nosbaum in a written statement. "Although we have experienced a pause in business in the U.S. that we thought might occur, we continue to drive revenue and [earnings-per-share] growth in the short term and believe that we are very well-positioned for the long term."

The stock fell 6 percent to $101.05 per share by market close and an additional 16.9 percent to $83.98 per share in after-market trading.

Another energy-management company, EnerNOC, also posted earnings Thursday. The company reported a third-quarter loss of $2.5 million, or 14 cents per share, beating analyst expectations of a loss of 24 cents per share.