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Sotera Health Company (SHC) Q4 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

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SHC earnings call for the period ending December 31, 2020.

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Sotera Health Company (SHC -0.39%)
Q4 2020 Earnings Call
Mar 09, 2021, 9:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:


Operator

Welcome to the Sotera Health fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 earnings call. The company would like me to read the following forward-looking statement on their behalf. Today, Sotera Health will be discussing its fourth-quarter and year-end 2020 results, along with its 2021 outlook. You can find today's press release and accompanying supplemental slides on the IR section of the company's website at soterahealth.com.

This webcast is being recorded, and a replay will be available on the IR section of the Sotera Health website for at least one year. Michael Petras, chairman and chief executive officer; and Scott Leffler, chief financial officer, will be making comments on today's call, followed by a question-and-answer period. During the call, some of the company's statements may be considered forward-looking statements. The matters addressed in these statements are subject to the risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected or implied.

Please refer to the company's SEC filings and the forward-looking statements slide at the beginning of Sotera Health's earnings presentation for a description of these risks and uncertainties. Sotera Health assumes no obligation to update any such forward-looking statements. Please note that during the discussion today, the company will present both GAAP and non-GAAP financial measures, including adjusted EBITDA, adjusted EPS, and net leverage ratio. A reconciliation of non-GAAP to GAAP measures for all relevant periods can be found in the schedules attached to Sotera Health's earnings press release and in the earnings presentation.

[Operator instructions] I will now turn the call over to Chairman and CEO, Michael Petras.

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, operator. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us on Sotera Health's first earnings call as a public company. We're very excited to kick off this new chapter in our history. I'd like to start by thanking all our global team members who have been such an important part of building the Sotera Health that we're representing today.

Our approximately 2,900 associates live and breathe the company's mission of safeguarding global health, and it's their tireless dedication that has allowed us to continue to serve our customers in the healthcare sector even in this uniquely challenging environment. Considering that we recently went public, there might be some in the investment community who are still familiarizing themselves with our story and value proposition. With that in mind, I wanted to open the call with a quick recap of who we are. Sotera Health is a leading global provider of mission-critical end-to-end sterilization solutions and lab testing and advisory services for the healthcare industry.

We serve the market through our three best-in-class business units: Sterigenics, Nordion, and Nelson Labs. Sterigenics and Nordion continue to provide comprehensive sterilization services to the healthcare industry. Together, Sterigenics and Nordion are the only vertically integrated global gamma sterilization provider in the sterilization industry. Sterigenics' global network offers our customers a complete range of outsourced terminal sterilization services, primarily using the three major sterilization technologies, gamma irradiation, ethylene oxide processing, and electron beam irradiation.

Nordion is a leading global provider of Cobalt-60 and gamma irradiators, which are key components to the gamma sterilization process. Nelson Labs provides our customers with mission-critical lab testing and advisory services, which assess the product quality, effectiveness, patient safety, and end-to-end sterility of medical device and pharmaceutical products. With a combined tenure across our business of nearly 200 years and our industry-recognized scientific and technological expertise, we help to ensure the safety of millions of patients and healthcare practitioners around the world every year. With that little bit of background, let's review the company's financial results and some recent highlights.

It's only been a few months since our IPO in November when we issued 19% of our outstanding shares to the public and generated $1.2 billion of proceeds. The vast majority of these proceeds were used to pay down debt. I'm very pleased to be reporting strong results today. We delivered solid growth in 2020.

For the fourth quarter, we reported revenue growth of 12%, adjusted EBITDA growth of 20%, and adjusted EPS of $0.09. And for the full-year 2020, we reported revenue growth of 5%, adjusted EBITDA growth of 11%, and adjusted EPS of $0.42. Our fourth-quarter performance capped the year, which really helped to solidify how important our services are to the global healthcare sector. Throughout the year, our business is focused on meeting the needs of customers, healthcare workers, and patients.

We performed critical testing and protective barrier devices like masks and gowns, and we sterilize medical devices and pharma products, all while creating a safe environment for employees to the pandemic. For the year, we were able to achieve growth across our business through a combination of organic growth and operational excellence initiatives. During 2020, we continued to invest capital to keep pace with satisfying our customers' needs relative to additional capacity and testing services. We will continue to focus capital deployment efforts along these lines in order to reinvest for the future.

As examples, both Nordion and Sterigenics continue to invest in strategic initiatives, including three long-term cobalt supply development projects at Nordion and nine capacity expansion projects at Sterigenics. On the Nelson Labs side, we expect to complete the build-out of our European microbiological center of excellence by the end of the year 2021. We continue to prioritize deleveraging and have allocated almost all the proceeds from the IPO toward debt paydown. This has allowed us to reduce leverage to 4.3 times adjusted EBITDA as of year-end, and we also increased the size of our revolving credit facility for additional liquidity.

The paydown of debt at the end of 2020, combined with the repricing of our term loan in the first quarter of 2021, is expected to save approximately $135 million of interest expense per year. We are executing on several operational excellence projects across all of our business units. This has been and will continue to be a focus for Sotera Health from both an operational efficiency perspective, as well as a continued driver for margin expansion. Regarding our 2021 outlook, I want to begin by describing our approach since this is the first time we are sharing any guidance.

We've chosen to focus on the full year and not the quarters, highlighting what we believe are the most relevant factors for investors. In connection with earnings calls, we may point out seasonality or timing variations if we see that this information will be helpful in understanding the overall business performance. With that backdrop, for full-year 2021, we are providing guidance of total revenues in the range of $890 million to $920 million, which equates to growth of approximately 9% to 12%; adjusted EBITDA in the range of $465 million to $485 million, representing growth of approximately 11% to 16%; and adjusted EPS in the range of $0.78 to $0.86. Scott will cover the outlook in more detail, including our qualitative assumptions on trends, as well as what we currently expect relating to the cadence.

As I conclude my remarks, I want to again take a minute to emphasize how proud I am with the entire Sotera Health team and their remarkable accomplishments during a very challenging 2020. The team stayed focused and executed extremely well. We know many of our employees had challenges like all of us on both the personal and professional level in 2020 while dealing with the global pandemic. We thank our employees for their commitment and dedication.

The success we achieved as a result of their commitment provides a strong operational and financial foundation exiting 2020 and entering 2021. To our investors and equity analysts who cover us, we've enjoyed the thoughtful discussions both during and since our IPO, and we thank you for your continued support of Sotera Health. I'll now turn the call over to Scott to review in more depth of our 2020 operating results, our capital structure, and more insights into our 2021 guidance. Scott?

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Michael. I'd like to cover Q4 and full-year 2020 financials at a high level quickly and then provide more information by business unit. I'll end with some comments on our balance sheet and our 2021 outlook. For the quarter, revenue grew by 12% to $217 million.

Adjusted EBITDA grew by 20% to $113 million, benefiting from 330 basis points of adjusted EBITDA margin expansion. That strong operating performance drove adjusted EPS of $0.09 per share, up $0.04 from Q4 of 2019. For the year, revenue grew by 5% to $818 million. We expanded adjusted EBITDA margins by 250 basis points as adjusted EBITDA grew by 11% to $420 million.

An increase in interest expense in 2020 over the prior year resulted in a slight decline in adjusted EPS by $0.01 to $0.42. Please note, Q4 and full-year 2020 results don't fully reflect the recent debt paydown and repricing, which we expect to have a $0.35 full-year run-rate impact on adjusted EPS. Next, let's take a closer look at business unit performance. In Q4, Sterigenics delivered 11% revenue growth and 14% segment income growth.

For the year, Sterigenics grew revenue by almost 6% and segment income by about 9%. Focusing on full-year performance drivers, pricing contributed almost 4%, and organic volume growth and the acquisition of Iotron each contributed about 2%. Those were partially offset by some headwinds from our Atlanta EO facility being down during installation of its facility enhancements and some residual impacts from the Willowbrook facility closure. Segment income margins expanded by about 150 basis points for both the quarter and the year as Sterigenics ramped up capacity utilization across the network.

We continue to invest for the future of Sterigenics, including emission control enhancements at our North America EO facilities and, as Michael referenced, nine active capacity expansion projects. Nordion reported Q4 revenue growth of 18% to approximately $29 million and segment income growth of 29% to $16 million. For the year, Nordion revenues were down slightly by 1%. Segment income increased approximately 7%.

It's always important to bear in mind how variable Nordion's results can be from one quarter to the next based on our supplier schedules for harvesting cobalt. That's what we saw in Q4 as favorable harvest schedules for industrial-use Cobalt-60 drove the top line. That effect typically normalizes over time. And you can see that in Nordion's full-year 2020 results with revenue of $115 million, which is only a slight decline over the prior year.

Nordion's top line was impacted by a 5% decline in volumes for medical-use Cobalt-60. Shipments of industrial-use Cobalt-60 were relatively flat for the year as some deliveries from suppliers were delayed into 2021. Nordion segment income margins for both Q4 and the full-year 2020 expanded by more than 450 basis points as price increases and a favorable mix contributed to the bottom line. Nelson Labs grew Q4 revenue by more than 11% to $53 million and grew segment income by almost 33% to $23 million.

For the year, sales grew by 7% to $205 million and drove 19% bottom-line growth as segment income grew to $86 million. Nelson Labs top-line performance was driven by demand for protective barriers testing, which is critical to ensuring the delivery of safe personal protective equipment. The business performed very well last year from a margin standpoint, expanding segment income margins by nearly 700 basis points for Q4 and 400 basis points for the full year. The Nelson Labs team, under new segment president, Joe Shrawder, has really embraced our companywide prioritization of operational excellence and continuous improvement.

The result is a long list of opex achievements for the Nelson Labs team that contributed to this outstanding margin expansion. Moving to our balance sheet. We continue to invest in the Sotera Health platform to promote our mission of safeguarding global health. In 2020, prior to Q4, the company's overall levels of capex have been lower than normal as the pandemic impacted our ability to spend on budgeted projects.

In addition, the acquisition of Iotron represented another opportunity to add capacity. Our Q4 capex of $21 million included spend relating to EO facility enhancements and several capacity expansions at Sterigenics and Nelson Labs. For the year, we spent about $54 million on capex. As mentioned previously, we do expect investments to be expanded for the next several years as we fund projects related to EO facility enhancements and the development of new sources of Cobalt-60 for Nordion, in addition to continued investment in new capacity and capabilities for Sterigenics and Nelson Labs.

We finished the year with $102 million in cash, an increase of almost $40 million from last year. We also upsized our revolver in December of 2020, adding more than $150 million of incremental liquidity. With combined cash and revolver availability of $386 million, we believe the company is in a solid liquidity position to fund our operational needs and investments. We undertook substantial financing activity that resulted in deleveraging and interest reduction efforts.

Prior to going public, we have more than 7 times net leverage and trailing 12-month interest expense of more than $210 million. In December, we announced that most of the proceeds from the IPO were used to pay down debt, including retiring our highest-cost debt, our second-lien notes. The pro forma result as of Q3 was that net leverage dropped all the way to 4.5 times. As of year-end 2020, net leverage has further reduced to 4.3 times.

We're very pleased with this progress toward our long-term target leverage levels in the 2 to 4 times range and intend to continue with debt paydown as one of our capital deployment priorities. In addition to the debt paydown, we also recently announced a highly successful repricing of our term loan, which reduced our current effective interest rate by around 2.25%. The combined impact on interest expense of the debt paydown and repricing will be substantial. We expect interest expense to decline from the $215 million that we reported for 2020 to approximately $80 million on a full-year run-rate basis and before any one-time charges associated with the transaction.

That $135 million reduction will generate a significant amount of free cash flow that can then be deployed to other priorities such as reinvestment in infrastructure to accelerate growth, additional debt paydown, or opportunistic acquisitions. Finally, I want to provide additional color around our 2021 outlook. As Michael mentioned, our intent is to provide full-year guidance. I'll start with the quantitative summary and finish with our assumptions.

For full-year 2021, we're providing guidance of total revenues in the range of $890 million to $920 million, representing growth of approximately 9% to 12%; adjusted EBITDA in the range of $465 million to $485 million, representing growth of approximately 11% to 16%; a tax rate applicable to adjusted net income of approximately 28%; adjusted EPS in the range of $0.78 to $0.86; and a fully diluted share count in the range of 281 million to 283 million shares on a weighted average basis. There are two additional quantitative comments we're calling out. First, note that the increase year over year in weighted average shares outstanding is largely due to our IPO in November 2020. And second, as I referenced earlier, we expect approximately $135 million of interest expense savings annually from the paydown of our debt and the repricing of our term loan, and the impact of that savings is reflected in our adjusted EPS guidance.

From a qualitative standpoint, our assumptions are as follows. We are anticipating an improvement in the economy and the steady normalization of procedure volumes throughout the year. As we look at the cadence of quarterly reporting, there are two main points to emphasize. First, we talked a lot about the variability in Nordion's performance-driven in large part by harvesting schedules for Cobalt-60.

Based on how we see deliveries shaping up this year, we think there will be a relatively even balance between the first half of the year and the second half of the year. Having said that, there's always the possibility that changes in the harvest schedule for Cobalt-60 can result in orders shifting from one quarter into another. Second, based on the timing of our first-year 10-K filing, with more than two months of the quarter already behind us, we're able to provide more of an update on the current quarter expectations than we would normally provide at this stage. From what we're seeing so far, we expect revenues in Q1 to be in the range of $205 million to $210 million.

We expect to see 20 to 30 basis points of adjusted EBITDA margin compression in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2020 as we ramp up spend related to being a public company and meeting new requirements, such as compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley and SEC filing requirements. This wouldn't change our expectation of adjusted EBITDA margin expansion on a full-year basis. From an FX standpoint, our guidance is based on exchange rates in effect as of the beginning of 2021. As I mentioned earlier, we will continue to prioritize growth initiatives, debt repayment, and opportunistic acquisitions that we identify throughout the year.

And as we've communicated in the past, we expect new capex spend to be in the range of $100 million to $110 million this year. That amount includes about $30 million earmarked for special project spend related to EO facility enhancements and Cobalt-60 supply development. I know that was a lot, and we're happy to take any questions during the Q&A. Before I turn the call back to Michael to wrap things up, I wanted to echo his earlier comments about how proud we are of the entire team.

Their work has helped put Sotera Health in a strong position heading into 2021 and beyond. Michael, back to you.

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Scott. Overall, we're very pleased with our performance in the fourth quarter and for 2020, especially considering the unique challenges facing the world. I couldn't be more proud of our team for leading the company through this period, and it's especially satisfying for us to be able to engage with our investors and equity analysts and invite them to be part of the Sotera Health journey. With that, operator, I'd like to open it up for question and answers, please.

Questions & Answers:


Operator

Thank you. [Operator instructions] And our first question, coming from the line of Matt Miksic with Credit Suisse. Your line is open.

Matt Miksic -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Thanks. Great. Appreciate the question, and welcome on your first earnings call and solid results to start. I appreciate all the color and certainly the color on Q1.

Maybe if we could start with just what you're seeing in some of the end markets that you have exposure to in terms of what's driving or informing some of the top-line characteristics of Q1. And maybe for those of us with broader exposure to general supplies and devices used in surgery and some of the end markets that represent your customers, say, how the ebbs and flows over the last several months have impacted your business in terms of rising or falling demand for devices or preparing for a recovery? And then I have one follow-up.

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

OK. Good morning, Matt. It's Michael. Thanks for joining us.

I'll try to address your questions. So 2020 started out on the volume side pretty good. And then we started to get into the COVID period, April, May, June, July, and we clearly saw, like you did with some of the other companies you follow, procedures fell off. We started to see, in the fall, volume starting to come back and start to move in a positive direction.

And then we kind of had that second dip of COVID, if you will, kind of over the holiday season into January. We expected this as we kind of looked at the numbers and how we build, as Scott mentioned in his comments, as well as we kind of gradually ramp the plan for the year. We saw that coming. So I would say the fourth quarter, we were doing pretty well, and then you started to see volumes slow down a little bit with elective procedures going into January and February.

And we're feeling pretty good about where we are now in the second half of February and into March. And I would say we see that across our businesses. On the Nelson side, we continue to see volumes growing, and with Sterigenics, more directly tied to the elective procedures I just referenced. And on the Nordion side, we've had a little bit of movement around some areas that are a little tougher to get shipments in and out of because of the COVID impact in some countries.

But overall, we're pretty optimistic, and it's along the lines of what we expected.

Matt Miksic -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

That's great. And then just capital allocation. Nice job on sort of reallocating or realigning your cap structure and taking down the cost of debt. I understand, as you've articulated, that you have a set of priorities for capex in facility expansion and facility upgrades.

If you could talk a little bit about what the opportunities are or the potential timing or your appetite for investment strategically in any of your end markets and core businesses over the next six, 12 months. Is that a part of the picture? Or is that something that sort of comes on the back of some of the other spending priorities that you have? Thanks.

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Matt, we're going to continue to invest for growth in this business. We feel really good about the end markets that we've partaken. We feel very good about our position in these markets.

We'll continue to invest for organic growth, as well as inorganic growth. But I don't want to lose sight of what we've told you, the other investors that we're targeting 2 to 4 times leverage in the long term and work well on that journey. To that point, one of the other questions you may be asking around M&A. And we've told you that as we look at the big TAMs that we partake in, there will be small tuck-in acquisitions that we could do at points in time that continue to enhance our capabilities or expand on our existing capabilities.

With that in mind, just, for example, yesterday, we closed on a transaction on the Nelson Labs side, where we bought a small lab that's focused on antimicrobial and virology capability. And that just expands upon what we already do with Nelson Labs. We thought that would help accelerate our entries into the marketplace's very accretive deals and help us on our journey to continue to grow both organically and inorganically.

Matt Miksic -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

That's perfect, Michael. Thank you.

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Matt.

Operator

Our next question, coming from the line of Sean Dodge with RBC Capital Markets. Your line is open.

Sean Dodge -- RBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

Thanks. Good morning and congratulations on a challenging but great 2020. On the guidance, going back to the comments, Michael, you made on the impact of COVID in volumes, if we think about how Sterigenics performed in 2020, what level of capacity utilization does that represent? I guess how much more revenue could your existing footprint support in a more normal year without any benefit from the ongoing capacity expansions you're investing in?

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Sean, I would tell you, as we've talked about in the past, I can give you a macro number, 75%, 80% capacity utilization, but that really depends on the geographic location of that facility, as well as the modality. Is it EO? Is it E-Beam? Is it cobalt gamma irradiation, right? Because the customers really drive where our needs are and what they need us to fulfill as far as the sterilization capability. So I would say overall, we feel pretty good about our capacity. There are certain areas where there's more opportunity for growth that we're deploying capital for expansions as I referenced in our opening remarks.

Sean Dodge -- RBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

OK. And then on the margin expansion opportunities, it seems like, across Sterigenics and Nordion, those are largely dependent upon revenue growth, so really coming from operating leverage. With Nelson, you've done a lot of optimization work since buying that. I think that the 2020 results are a testament to that.

Can you give us a sense of how much cost reduction or optimization opportunity remains there? I guess maybe kind of both near term here in 2021 and then maybe a little bit longer term.

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. I would tell you, as we've said multiple times, we see continued opportunity for margins expansion in this business. We really focus on operational excellence. And I want to make sure it's clear, this isn't cost reduction per se.

We're not going in, reducing a bunch of heads, cutting a bunch of costs, like, we didn't do furloughs or anything like that during the course of the global pandemic. This is pure rolling up your sleeves, getting after operational excellence. How do you drive better utilization? Some of the things -- Scott mentioned in his comments about Joe Shrawder and the leadership out at Nelson Labs, just how we do the workflows, how we set up our media prep areas. We're looking at Star Limbs, an IT investment that we've deployed capital against to improve workflows.

We're looking at activities within Mike and the team over at Sterigenics, looking at how they load their chambers, how they do turn times, how they do advanced shipment notifications. So we see continued opportunity for margin expansion in this business as we continue to drive more operational excellence across all businesses. And then I can give you similar examples on the Nordion side as well.

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. Sean, this is Scott. Good morning. I'll just add to Michael's comments.

In the past, when we have talked about the drivers for margin across all three of our businesses, there are three categories that we focus on: one of them is benefit from pricing actions, much of which is contract-based; one of them relates to operating leverage, which you referenced in your question; and then as Michael said, we have a slate of opex projects that we are working on across all three of our businesses. And so to a certain extent, at least, we believe that all three of the businesses have the opportunity to benefit to at least some extent from each of those different drivers.

Sean Dodge -- RBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

OK. Very helpful. Thank you again.

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Sean.

Operator

Our next question, coming from the line of Patrick Donnelly with Citi. Your line is open.

Patrick Donnelly -- Citi -- Analyst

Great. Thanks, guys, and congrats on the first quarter out of the gate here. Michael, maybe just a quick one for you. We've gotten a bunch of investor questions just on the EO litigation, the timelines, the expectations.

Can you maybe just talk through that and what we should expect as we go through the year here and your guidance expectations?

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Patrick, thanks for the question. You know, obviously, we're in litigation, so I can't get into a lot of details on this. But what I can tell you is we feel very comfortable about where we are in that litigation and the work that our teams are putting together in our defense.

Ultimately, though, it's going to go in front of a trial jury, and there's risk that come associated with that. But right now, it looks like the timing was initially planning here for late this year for some of those trials to partake. I would say nothing's been officially declared by the courtship, but there's a pretty high probability that the first trials will take place sometime in 2022. But one thing I want to make sure that everybody continues to learn about this whole EO situation is this is so critical to the healthcare industry.

50% or more of the medical devices in the U.S. are sterilized with EO. We have very compliant systems. It's built into our culture, and we continue to operate with high regard for the regulatory requirements.

And really proud of what the team's done, and we're going to continue to move forward and run these businesses like we have for years. We'll continue to take care of our customers who rely on EO for critical medical devices to be sterile.

Patrick Donnelly -- Citi -- Analyst

OK. That's helpful. And then on the back of that, I guess, have you had any update regarding EO regulations in the U.S. with the new administration in place? And then also, I think in Europe, you kind of thought the impending medical device regulations could create a growth tailwind for you guys, maybe some greater capacity needs in that region.

Can you maybe just talk through those two? Thanks.

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Great, Patrick. We're anxiously awaiting to do rights on NESHAP. I would tell you I wish it would have come out in 2018.

I wish it would have come out in '19. I wish it would have come out in 2020. And we're hopeful they come out in 2021. With the new administration, they were hopeful they'd get something out in the first quarter of this year.

I think that is very unlikely based on the fact that we're sitting here today in the early days of March. We're hopeful that something comes out later in the year. We also feel very confident around the solutions that we've started to deploy in our facilities. If I represent -- an example would be in Atlanta, where we're capturing 99.99% of the EO that we use.

My engineers would tell me it's 99.9999% -- that we use in that facility. I think a lot of the improvements that we put in place there are going to be kind of the key benchmarks and baselines that NESHAP uses for their longer-term regs, but we don't know that until we see it come out. We continue to engage with our regulars, like we always -- regulators like we always have. I'm hopeful that they just tell us the rules, so we can go execute and outperform against those rules.

We're still waiting on them, Patrick. It's a little frustrating, but I hope they give direction to the industry here sooner rather than later. But I feel confident about the solutions we're deploying currently. And then MDR, Scott, why don't you address the MDR piece?

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

Sure. Good morning, Patrick. How are you this morning?

Patrick Donnelly -- Citi -- Analyst

Good. Thanks.

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

Great. Yeah. So with respect to the medical device regulations in Europe, there is a new stage-gate that we're hitting here in May of 2021 where there will be a requirement that either new medical devices introduced to the marketplace or even legacy medical devices that are up for recertification meet a different testing standard. And if you go back to 2017, when we acquired a business called Toxikon Europe, as part of that acquisition, it was anticipating increased demand in this area.

We acquired a leadership position in a category of testing called extractables and leachables testing that we've continued to invest in organically, and we have seen solid growth for a number of years in that area. But this new stage-gate that I mentioned that's upcoming now, we are seeing an increase in demand in that area, at least the pipeline that we're anticipating for 2021. And we've incorporated that type of demand growth in our outlook for the year.

Patrick Donnelly -- Citi -- Analyst

Great. Thank you, guys.

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Great. Thanks, Patrick.

Operator

And our next question, coming from the line of Dave Windley with Jefferies. Your line is open.

Dave Windley -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Hi, good morning. Thanks for taking my question. Congratulations on navigating a challenging and eventful 2020. Kind of a follow-up to Patrick's question on your investments and enhancements in facility.

You mentioned, Michael, the Atlanta facility and you've kind of proved concept on the new approach there as you mentioned the 99.99%. I'm wondering what your kind of cadence or horizon is for applying those same approaches to the rest of your facilities. Is that something that can get done in 2021? Or is that a multi-year horizon? And I presume you're going to say yes, but I'll ask it anyway. Are you comfortable continuing to make that investment in all of those facilities ahead of the regulations if they continue to be delayed? Thanks.

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. David, we've always been on the forefront and a leader in operating these facilities, and with the emission control systems that have been in place, and we continue to feel confident on where we are. Atlanta is up and running. We've already put improvements into another couple of facilities that are near completion and then others that are falling behind in that same path.

Some of the big improvements we're putting in place would be negative pressure, double scrubbing, and then centralized discharge points. So we're moving along those paths across some of our facilities. We think it will take place in '21, '22, and possibly into '23 as well. But there is a chance there's incremental requirements that the government may require, the EPA, and I feel pretty good about how situated we are around some of those concerns.

We continually look for new opportunities to continue to improve. So there's other things that we're looking at as well that continue to advance our performance in these facilities. But I feel pretty confident about where we are, what we deployed in our path forward in spite of the fact that we don't have the new rules out yet. We believe that we'll be leading again in the industry and continue to lead in the industry with our control systems.

Dave Windley -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Sounds good. Thank you for that. Pivoting to guidance. I was hoping you could clarify, maybe Scott could clarify the contribution of Iotron and this acquisition you mentioned that closed yesterday to the revenue growth assumptions for '21.

And then in our pre-IPO discussions, the harvest cadence in Nordion, the harvest timing was expected to make the fourth quarter a really strong quarter exiting '21 and continuing into '22. It sounds like from the comments on Nordion being more even in the first half and the second half, maybe that timing may have changed, and I just wanted to make sure I understood that. Thanks.

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

Sure. Thanks for the questions, Dave. So let me just hit the first question. In terms of our 2021 guidance, we're not going to provide a breakdown in terms of the components at this time.

But if you look at the disclosures we've made in the past, just a reminder that we closed the Iotron acquisition at the end of July of 2020. And so obviously, there's going to be a little year-over-year or no year-over-year impact for the post-acquisition period. And then for the January through July period, what we've disclosed is the Iotron's pre-acquisition revenue during that period was around $15 million. And the facility that we acquired with that acquisition were fairly mature in terms of having ramped up their full capacity utilization.

You could expect the 2021 contribution to be similar for those periods. In terms of your second question, I guess, first, the risk is getting obvious for Nordion, there's always a little bit of shifting in terms of the cobalt harvest schedules. And we certainly have seen that over the last few months as well. And so you picked up on our point correctly, is that when you look at Nordion's relative share of the company's revenue throughout 2021, it's going to be fairly stable, which is something that it hasn't -- our view hasn't always been that for 2021.

Dave Windley -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Thank you. Appreciate that.

Operator

And our next question, coming from the line of Tycho Peterson with J.P. Morgan. Your line is open.

Tycho Peterson -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Hey, good morning. I'll start off with a question on guidance. Just wondering if there's any kind of segment-level commentary you could give us. It's not that long since we did the IPO model.

I'm just curious if there's any segment commentary that has changed since. And then if you were to see upside since you're guiding slightly above consensus, but if you were to see upside even above that, where do you think it comes from this year?

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. So it's not our intent to go very deep right now in terms of the individual business unit components for our 2021 guidance, but what I'll just say in terms of the overall storyline, in terms of everything we've ever said about the underlying drivers for each of our three business units, as well as the strategic priorities, really, nothing has changed over the last couple of months since the IPO. And so we do have, obviously, some tailwinds contemplated in terms of price and operating leverage. And then also, as Michael and I both mentioned earlier, we're contemplating some steady normalization of processing volumes out there in the medical device space.

And so obviously, that's going to have some impact, in particular, on Sterigenics and Nelson Labs. But all of these are consistent with some of the comments we've always made about drivers of the businesses. Michael did mention in his comments that there are a number of capacity expansions that are under way for Sterigenics, some of which are going to be coming online during 2021. And obviously, they'll have some impact on our anticipated results as well.

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Tycho, this is Michael. I would just tell you, just at the high level, we said 9% to 12% growth on the top line and 11% to 16% adjusted EBITDA. All three businesses will be contributing meaningful in achieving that growth for the year. That would be the only other comment I'd add to Scott's.

Tycho Peterson -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

OK. And then on the COVID dynamic, you've talked about increased demand for services related to PPE, biologics, other quantifying projects. Can you maybe just touch on -- is that something that you could quantify? Is it material? Could that be upside in numbers? And then the other side of it, we've had people ask, is there any risk to the 3.5% to 5% on pricing given COVID hardships by clients? I know it's all contractual, but do they have any ability to push back on pricing?

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes. So when you look at the composition of our businesses for Nelson Labs and Sterigenics, both in terms of the customer composition and the underlying product lines that we're providing services for, it is a very, very well-diversified business. And so you're right that we've talked about some particular product categories that we're contemplating benefiting as a result of COVID. But the reality is that in any given year, there's always going to be some that are up and some that are down.

And so I would say it just kind of falls into that mix. The net impact of COVID, I think when you just look at our top line in 2020, even with some of these product categories that benefited, the net impact in all reality was negative because of the top-line growth we delivered last year was a little bit lower than we would normally hope for. And as we said, we're expecting that normalization across the broader portfolio here throughout the course of 2021.

Tycho Peterson -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

OK. And on the pricing?

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

Sure. And then also in terms of pricing, remember that for Sterigenics and for Nordion, over 90% of the revenue for those two businesses is generated under long-term contracts. And those contracts have built-in price escalators, annual price escalators. And so even after any kind of change in the market dynamic, we would anticipate that that kind of rhythm of price increases under the existing contracts would continue for the foreseeable future.

But also just more generally, we don't see any changing dynamic out there in the marketplace right now in terms of pricing pressure.

Tycho Peterson -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

OK. That's helpful. And then just last one, I want to go back to Dave Windley's question on the facility upgrades. Because you talked about $26 million to $32 million in capex for nine projects this year.

And then earlier on the call, you said this could last kind of two to three years in terms of the upgrade cycle. So we assume kind of a third, a third, a third in terms of the number of facilities you're going to be upgrading? Or how should we think about the pacing?

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. Sorry, one thing, I think you may have mixed up a couple of comments because we talked about facility expansions, which would be -- there are nine active capacity expansion projects right now. And so that was intended to refer to kind of typical routine of investment in growth initiatives. And that's different from the comments that we made about the pacing of our investment in facility enhancements for EO.

Just to clarify that.

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. On the facility enhancements, I think we've said before the fourth quarter that we're going to be talking about in excess of $30 million over the next couple of years for facility enhancements, and those are over multiple years, Tycho.

Tycho Peterson -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

OK. OK. But then you can't give us a focus to how much will be done by the end of this year? I'm just trying to think about the pacing here.

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

So in total, across our facilities this year, environmental enhancements, EO included, as well as just ongoing environmental enhancements, will be about $15 million, just to give you some context across all the facilities across all Sotera Health. The large portion, obviously, is EO enhancements.

Tycho Peterson -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Thank you.

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

That just kind of gives you a ballpark, right?

Tycho Peterson -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Yeah, yeah. Thanks, Michael.

Operator

And our next question, coming from the line of Amit Hazan with Goldman Sachs. Your line is open.

Amit Hazan -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Thanks. Hey, good morning. And I also want to kind of start with the 2021 guide and maybe try to put together a number of things you've said so far in the call. It sounds like you've obviously got some inorganic benefit in your '21 guide.

It sounds like also that your COVID impact as you think about it from a net perspective in '20, I think, you said was a negative impact to you. And you obviously had some impacts from Willowbrook and Atlanta. So I'm trying to better understand what the true kind of underlying 2020 base was that we would drive off of because if we kind of adjust for just those things that I mentioned to get to 2021 underlying growth, it would suggest somewhere toward the mid-single digits. I wonder if you could comment on that and tell me if that's the kind of the true range? And is it kind of lower than what would be normalized because you're still seeing COVID impact? Or just how you unpackage what I just said.

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

Sure, sure. So let me try and unpack that a little bit. I think that part of your questions went a little bit deeper than we've gone so far. But looking at our full-year revenue growth for 2020, we delivered 5% revenue growth.

And there was some inorganic contribution there. And so Iotron contributed about 1% to the total company's growth. And so outside of that, you had 4% revenue growth. And so I'm not sure how you got to the implied kind of mid-single-digit number on a normalized basis.

I guess what we're seeing is the -- what we would normally expect, absent a pandemic, is some amount of top-line growth that is higher than that and consistent with what we have said in the past around viewing the business as at least a high single-digit grower. And I think that's reflected well in the guidance that we're giving you for 2021 as well.

Amit Hazan -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

OK. OK. And on the middle of the P&L, your outlook implies about a 200-basis-point margin expansion, which is great. In fact, maybe you could just help us understand, obviously, you talked a little bit about pricing already.

But are there any other moving parts that you could talk to? And gross margin, in particular, we didn't get a sense of what that was on an adjusted basis in 2020. If you can just help us understand where that came out and what your expectations are for '21, that would be helpful. Thanks so much.

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. So I mean, I guess what I'll say is to reiterate a comment I made a few minutes ago, which is overall, the business is -- it's the same business that we've been talking about since the IPO and the period leading up to it. The financial profile of each of our three business units is the same as the business that we were when we IPO-ed in November. And so in terms of the underlying drivers, it's really all of the same major storylines and the same financial profile that we've been talking about.

Margin expansion, we do expect to continue to see benefit, as I said earlier, across all three business units from these key categories of drivers, which would be priced across all three business units, operating leverage to at least some extent across all three business units. And then this organizational focus on opex is real, and you see it in the margin expansion that we just reported for Nelson Labs. You see how significantly we can move the P&L with the organizational focus and execution in that area. And so really, that's what -- the drivers that we see continuing to impact the business here in 2021 as we deliver on our guidance.

Amit Hazan -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question, coming from the line of Matthew Mishan with KeyBanc. Your line is open.

Matthew Mishan -- KeyBanc Capital Markets -- Analyst

OK. I'm sorry to go back to it, just -- I think it would be helpful, though. What is the FX component of the guidance? Of the 9% to 12%, how much of it is coming from FX?

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

So we're not breaking up the guidance in that way. First of all, one of the things we indicated is that we are basing the guidance on FX as of January. And so remember -- so if you anchor yourself to January FX rates compared to last year, obviously, there are some currencies out there that are going to be a tailwind. The business that is most significantly impacted by that is Nordion.

And so when you look at where the Canadian dollar sits now, with Nordion being a Canadian company that's primarily CAD-based in terms of their revenue base, Nordion is going to be the most significantly impacted. Sterigenics is a heavily indexed domestically and a little bit underindexed internationally. And so they'll have some amount of tailwind from the euro and some other currencies that we operate in. But not as large an impact with some other companies that are more heavily internationally indexed.

Matthew Mishan -- KeyBanc Capital Markets -- Analyst

OK. Excellent. And then I'm just trying to help people build on some better models, and there were some modest change that looks like -- in reporting between the IPO and this initial one. So just if we could just walk through a couple of them.

Are you no longer excluding depreciation from the gross margin line? And then it did look like segment income, by segment, at least, you're presenting number like segment income versus previously it was adjusted EBITDA by segment. So just those two moving pieces would be helpful.

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

Sure. So the term segment income, which is the metric that we use as a management team for evaluating the business, is defined to essentially approximate an adjusted EBITDA metric. And so really, it's just a nomenclature question there. Regarding your other question, yes, so prior to the IPO as a private equity-based company, we did have a tendency to think about the business in terms of our gross margins from our perspectives, excluded depreciation, and amortization expense.

But obviously, our reporting now conforms more closely to U.S. GAAP on that so -- I mean, conforms to U.S. GAAP on that, so it would incorporate the G&A.

Matthew Mishan -- KeyBanc Capital Markets -- Analyst

OK. And then there are just two different metrics people were using. People were using reported revenue from the S-1. I think you guys have a lot of pro forma and making some adjustments.

We're definitively on the reported revenue from the S-1 now, right?

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

That's correct. Now, when we did our revenue prerelease in January, we did reference a pro forma revenue number that contemplated the pre-acquisition time period for Iotron for that January through July period. And that number has separately been disclosed as a $15 million impact. But you're right.

We are showing you in all of our reporting today just clean GAAP revenue numbers.

Matthew Mishan -- KeyBanc Capital Markets -- Analyst

OK. That was helpful. Thank you very much.

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

Great. Thanks.

Operator

[Operator instructions] And our next question, coming from the line of Michael Polark with Baird. Your line is open.

Michael Polark -- Baird -- Analyst

Hey, good morning. Thanks for taking the question. Santa Teresa, that facility, I'm hoping for a fresh comment on your expectations for operational status of that facility as 2021 progresses, perhaps your engagement with the attorney general in that state? And I know you're upgrading all of your EO facilities for emission controls, but where does that facility specifically sit in terms of timing of those investments?

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Hi, Michael, it's Michael Petras. So New Mexico, I want to be clear with -- that facility is up and running, fully operational, really critical to the healthcare system. A lot of surgical kits are sterilized for the whole United States through that facility, so it's a really critical facility that relies on sterile surgical kits.

And we're fully operational. The AG request was not to demand closure, but they were more focused on seizing uncontrolled emissions or EO releases. And we continue to make enhancements in that facility. We've been in dialogue for quite some time with the regulators there and the normal permitting process to work through that.

So I can't get into a lot of details on the litigation other than there's a bunch of lawyers filing papers back and forth, doing the lawyer thing, which is unfortunate. We feel pretty confident on where we are and how well that business is performing. And I would just tell you that a lot of the information reported is not very accurate, but I don't want to get into the level of detail around that. We'll let a third party determine that.

But by and large, the most important point is the facility is up and running. Our customers rely upon us. We are -- continued belief that that facility will continue to operate, and we'll continue to perform the critical role in healthcare that we provide there. But we clearly have improvement plans for all those facilities, including Santa Teresa, and we've been engaged with the regulators on those topics for quite some time.

Michael Polark -- Baird -- Analyst

Maybe one follow-up for Scott on the interest expense below the line. Hear you clearly, $80 million run rate on pro forma for the debt reduction and term loan repricing. My sense is the number for the first quarter is not $20 million, $80 million divided by four. So can you just comment so that we don't have EPS too wonky here in the first quarter? What the interest expense for 1Q should be?

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

Sure. So I guess a couple of comments. One is just a reminder that we're referencing our numbers on an adjusted basis, right? And so we provided adjusted EPS guidance. And so there is going to be a noncash charge associated with the repricing activity that we executed in early January.

But I'm going to kind of eliminate that effect from my answer. So we executed the repricing in January. And so we would expect to get most of the full-year impact because, at this point, we've already done the debt pay down in December and the repricing in January. And so out of that $80 million run rate number, assuming all other things being equal in terms of the interest rate environment and so on, you should get most of that effect here in 2021, and you would really just have to adjust for that subperiod in January.

Michael Polark -- Baird -- Analyst

OK. Thank you.

Operator

And that's all the time we have for questions today. I would now like to turn the call back over to Mr. Michael Petras for closing remarks.

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Great. Well, we thank you, everybody, for joining us for our first earnings call. We're very proud of what the team's accomplished in 2020. We're really optimistic about what the future holds for us in 2021.

We believe this is a very unique asset, big end-market growth, competitive, well-positioned versus the competition, and good growth opportunities for us to continue to move forward. So thanks for joining us today, and we look forward to our future engagements in some of the upcoming investor conferences and have a great day. Thank you.

Operator

[Operator signoff]

Duration: 63 minutes

Call participants:

Michael Petras -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Scott Leffler -- Chief Financial Officer

Matt Miksic -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Sean Dodge -- RBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

Patrick Donnelly -- Citi -- Analyst

Dave Windley -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Tycho Peterson -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Amit Hazan -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Matthew Mishan -- KeyBanc Capital Markets -- Analyst

Michael Polark -- Baird -- Analyst

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