January 21, 2011 / 4:57 PM / in 7 years

Nordion shares surge on strong results

* Nordion says it lost share of medical isotope market

* Shares rise as much as 14 percent

TORONTO, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Shares of Nordion Inc NDN.TO NDZ.N jumped on Friday after the Canadian health science company reported a larger-than-expected profit as a nuclear reactor that was its key supplier reopened after a long shutdown. [ID:nN20154930]

Atomic Energy of Canada’s Chalk River reactor, which supplied much of Nordion’s isotopes, restarted in August after a one-year shutdown because of safety issues. Nordion took a severe hit.

Chalk River, which supplies isotopes for Nordion’s imaging and radiotherapy products, is one of the few reactors that produce commercial quantities of molybdenum-99, used in nuclear medicine. It is the parent isotope for technetium-99m, used in most nuclear medicine procedures.

The company has signed a 10-year Mo-99 supply deal with a subsidiary of the Russian nuclear agency, Rosatom State Corp, to protect its supplies.

Nordion changed its name from MDS Inc last year. The company has lost share in the medical isotope market as its customers sought to diversify suppliers during the shutdown, Chief Executive Steve West said on a conference call with analysts on Friday.

“The landscape has changed quickly, resulting in a surplus supply of medical isotopes and an acceleration to a more competitive environment,” West said.

“The net result is we are seeing lower volumes and higher pricing, but with reduced demand.”

Late Thursday, the company reported a profit of $18.2 million, or 14 cents a share, for its fourth quarter ended Oct. 31. That compared with a loss of $18.2 million, or 14 cent, in the year-earlier quarter.

Nordion shares were up 9 percent at C$11.07 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday near midday after rising as much as 14 percent earlier in the session.

The stock was up 11 percent at $11.21 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has risen 26 percent in the last 52 weeks.

Desjardins raised its rating on the company to “hold” from “sell.” ($1=$1.00 Canadian) (Reporting by S. John Tilak; editing by Janet Guttsman) (john.tilak@thomsonreuters.com; +1 416 687 7918)

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