Nordion Earnings Call Nuggets: Strategic Review and EBIDTA Trends

Nordion (NYSE:NDZ) recently reported its second quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Strategic Review

Stephanie Price – CIBC: In terms of the strategic review, could you talk a bit about some of the other options you are looking out at this point?

Steve M. West – CEO: No, I can’t. Obviously, during the strategic re+6view any discussions that we would be having or have had are usually under confidentiality agreements and therefore we are unable to really go into any specific details, Stephanie. I mean, clearly from the announcement we made with BTG, we believe we believe that the first outcome of our strategic review unlocked significant value for Nordion and for our shareholders. And as I said earlier, we continue to undergo a thoughtful and consider process to consider our other options for enhancing the value of the business.

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Stephanie Price – CIBC: So would you consider selling another division such as the Sterilization division at this point or is it more looking at internal operations?

Steve M. West – CEO: At this moment in time, Stephanie, I am not really prepared to comment or speculate on the outcomes of our strategic review. I will say that we haven’t closed the deal yet with BTG, so that continues to remain a focus. Again, as is typical with these kinds of arrangements, noting that we have a Manufacturing and Services agreement with them, we are going to insure that we carefully manage those transition activities in the early stages post the closing of the deal. And then we will be evaluating options for what we consider to be two very, very strong franchises in our business.

Stephanie Price – CIBC: In terms of the Medical Isotopes division, do you have any further clarity from AECL, on plans to NRU post 2016? And can you talk about some of the options you are looking at there?

Steve M. West – CEO: Well, I think the 2016 date is pretty well set. We haven’t heard as any deviation from AECL’s plans. As you know they will be undergoing some process for, I guess in RSP for our GoCo models for Chalk River, and so we are interested to see how that pans out. But we are planning currently to size NRU. Its concern that when we get to at the end of the license period in 2016 that we will no longer being sourcing (NYSE:ATU) moly from there. As to other options, and I have said this previously, Nordion does continue to explore other options for a sustainable long-term supply of LEU-based moly, it’s hard for me to talk about that, because as you can imagine these again are proprietary discussions taken place with potential partners. But we do continue to do that, we believe that there are options that could available to us, we have a very strong franchise, a great brand in Medical Isotopes business and people still count on us and it’s not clear as of yet how the whole supply chain will pan out when NRU comes offline. So we are as I say, exploring variety of options and we’ll continue to do that noting that obviously as we get closer to the date of 2016 we need to get some clarity around potential partnerships. So we are actively engaged in that and will continue to do so.

EBIDTA Trends

Neil Maruoka – Canaccord Genuity: Just a quick question on, just a follow-up question to Stephanie. Can you provide an update on negotiations with – for Russian supplier I know there have been some changes there and you had mentioned in the past that you had an opportunity to renegotiate another deal. Is there any update there?

Steve M. West – CEO: Nothing specific Neil. Actually we haven’t started negotiations with, yet. That’s an option for us and, that would just be one of the options that we’d be exploring.

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Neil Maruoka – Canaccord Genuity: And to shift to the Sterilization business, just to give us a better idea of maybe the EBITDA there. Can you maybe provide like a run rate EBITDA expectation ex-pension and ex-incentive comp? It wasn’t entirely clear in the MD&A.

Steve M. West – CEO: I’ll ask Peter to handle that.

Peter Dans – CFO: Yeah, so Neil, in terms of the EBITDA of the business, again, if you look at the trends, the revenue again we expect to be similar to last year, a slight increase on pricing from the overall business. So really what we are looking at is a portion of the increased pension expense, which we estimated at about $7 million for the year, so a portion of that’s allocated to Sterilization. And then from an incentive compensation perspective, you will have seen year-to-date we’re about $3 million above last year, and again, that gets allocated across the three businesses, so Sterilization would pick-up a piece of that.

Neil Maruoka – Canaccord Genuity: Can you give us an idea of how much is allocated to Sterilization?

Peter Dans – CFO: Again, not getting specific, you can look at it sort of a third as a rough guideline but without getting into specifics.

Neil Maruoka – Canaccord Genuity: And final question, do you believe that there are buyers out there for the Sterilization business?

Steve M. West – CEO: I’ll handle that one. Sterilization business is a very good business. Medical Isotopes business, we believe has value too, even though we got supply challenges. And I think the whole Nordion brand has a lot of value. Yeah, I think Neil, if one were to think about potential universe of folks that would be interested in our assets, I think there are – there would be a variety of potential financial and strategic sponsors. And I wouldn’t just characterize it purely for the Sterilization business.