West said he expects the Chalk River National Research Universal reactor to have a planned shutdown next summer as part of its relicensing requirements, noting these shutdowns are common for major isotope producing reactors.
"We expect this shutdown to have a similar impact on reactor revenues, as they have in Q3," West said, a day after Nordion (TSX:NDN) reported a narrower third quarter loss and sharply higher revenues.
Nordion is Canada's largest producer and seller of medical isotopes such as Molybdenum-99, that are used in cancer tests and treatment, medical imaging and other health therapies and technology.
The company, which also trades on the New York Stock Exchange, has 500 employees and sells its products to drug and biotech companies, medical device makers, hospitals, clinics and research labs around the world.
"The combination of this expected outage and the limited availability of the Russian supply during this time create an additional challenge for capturing Molybdenum-99 market share," West told analysts during a conference call.
There was a global shortage of medical isotopes when the federally owned NRU reactor in Chalk River, Ont., was shut down in May 2009 because of a leak that took more than a year to repair.
The shortage caused a political furor in the Commons and concerns by doctors and other health professionals about the availability of medical tests for Canadians.
In the latest quarter, Ottawa-based Nordion said that due to higher sales of medical isotopes and sterilization technologies in the quarter, the company raised its revenue by almost 50 per cent to US$66.8 million from US$47.9 million a year earlier.
West said Nordion's TheraSphere, which is used to treat liver cancer, is expected to provide international growth for the company with revenues for the treatment increases 58 per cent in the quarter.
TheraSphere consists of millions of tiny radioactive glass beads, about one-half the diameter of a human hair, that attack cancerous tumours in the liver while aiming to minimize the impact on healthy tissue.
Desjardins Capital Markets analyst Pooya Hemami said Nordion's revenue was higher than his expectation of US$62 million and consensus of US$59 million.
"While Nordion was impacted as expected by the 4.5-week maintenance shutdown at the Chalk River facility, medical isotopes revenue of US$21.4 (million) was above our estimate of US$18m (down from US$27.6m in 2Q FY11)," Hemami said in a research note.
In its financial results, Nordion announced late Tuesday that it cut its overall third-quarter loss to US$4.1 million from $15 million.
The company, which reports in U.S. dollars, said its continuing operations were profitable, earning seven cents per share or $4.7 million.
But that was more than offset by an $8.8-million loss from discontinued operations, Nordion said.
In the comparable period last year, Nordion's continuing operations lost $8.7 million or 13 cents per share and discontinued operations lost $6.4 million for a total loss of $15 million.
Nordion emerged from the former MDS Inc., a drug research, high-end medical equipment and isotopes producer which restructured a few years ago. MDS employed 3,600 people in 2009 but sold its lab and technology businesses and renamed itself Nordion after its nuclear medicine division.
In Wednesday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Nordion shares rose two cents to $8.79.