Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies (Policies)

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies (Policies)
9 Months Ended
Sep. 30, 2019
Accounting Policies [Abstract]  
Basis of Presentation
The accompanying condensed consolidated financial statements of Pieris Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiaries were prepared in accordance with U.S. GAAP. The condensed consolidated financial statements include the accounts of all subsidiaries. All intercompany balances and transactions have been eliminated.
Use of Estimates
The preparation of the financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP requires management to make estimates, judgments and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenues, expenses and the related disclosures at the date of the financial statements and during the reporting period. Significant estimates are used for, but are not limited to, revenue recognition; deferred tax assets, deferred tax liabilities and valuation allowances; fair value of stock options and various accruals. Management evaluates its estimates on an ongoing basis. Actual results and outcomes could differ materially from management’s estimates, judgments and assumptions.
Cash, Cash Equivalents and Investments
The Company determines the appropriate classification of its investments at the time of purchase. All liquid investments with original maturities of 90 days or less from the purchase date and for which there is an active market are considered to be cash equivalents. The Company’s investments are comprised of money market, asset backed securities, government treasuries and corporate bonds that are classified as available-for-sale in accordance with FASB ASC 320, Investments—Debt and Equity Securities. The Company classifies investments available to fund current operations as current assets on its balance sheets. Investments are classified as non-current assets on the balance sheets if (i) the Company has the intent and ability to hold the investments for a period of at least one year and (ii) the contractual maturity date of the investments is greater than one year.

Available-for-sale investments are recorded at fair value, with unrealized gains or losses included in accumulated other comprehensive loss on the Company’s balance sheets. Realized gains and losses are determined using the specific identification method and are included as a component of other income. Realized gains of $0.1 million and $0.2 million were recognized for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2019. Realized gains of approximately $0.8 million and realized losses $0.7 million were recognized for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2018.

The Company reviews investments for other-than-temporary impairment whenever the fair value of an investment is less than the amortized cost and evidence indicates that an investment’s carrying amount is not recoverable within a reasonable period of time. To determine whether an impairment is other-than temporary, the Company considers its intent to sell or whether it is more likely than not that the Company will be required to sell the investment before recovery of the investment’s amortized cost basis. Evidence considered in this assessment includes reasons for the impairment, the severity and the duration of the impairment and changes in value subsequent to period end.
Concentration of Credit Risk and Off-Balance Sheet Risk
The Company has no financial instruments with off‑balance sheet risk such as foreign exchange contracts, option contracts or other foreign hedging arrangements. Financial instruments that subject Pieris to concentrations of credit risk include cash and cash equivalents, investments and accounts receivable. The Company’s cash, cash equivalents and investments are held in accounts with financial institutions that management believes are creditworthy. The Company’s investment policy includes guidelines on the quality of the institutions and financial instruments and defines allowable investments that the Company believes minimizes the exposure to concentration of credit risk. These amounts, at times, may exceed federally insured limits. The Company has not experienced any credit losses in such accounts and does not believe it is exposed to any significant credit risk on these funds. Accounts receivable primarily consist of amounts due under strategic partnership and other license agreements with major multi-national pharmaceutical companies for which the Company does not obtain collateral.
Fair Value Measurement
The Company is required to disclose information on all assets and liabilities reported at fair value that enables an assessment of the inputs used in determining the reported fair values. FASB ASC Topic 820, Fair Value Measurement and Disclosures, or ASC 820, established a hierarchy of inputs used in measuring fair value that maximizes the use of observable inputs and minimizes the use of unobservable inputs by requiring that the observable inputs be used when available. Observable inputs are inputs that market participants would use in pricing the financial instrument based on market data obtained from sources independent of the Company. Unobservable inputs are inputs that reflect the Company’s assumptions about the inputs that market participants would use in pricing the financial instrument and are developed based on the best information available in the circumstances. The fair value hierarchy applies only to the valuation inputs used in determining the reported or disclosed fair value of the financial instruments and is not a measure of the investment credit quality. Fair value measurements are classified and disclosed in one of the following three categories:
Level 1 inputs are quoted prices in active markets for identical assets or liabilities that the reporting entity has the ability to access at the measurement date.
Level 2 utilizes quoted market prices in markets that are not active, broker or dealer quotations or alternative pricing sources with reasonable levels of price transparency.
Level 3 inputs are unobservable inputs for the asset or liability in which there is little, if any, market activity for the asset or liability at the measurement date.

To the extent that valuation is based on models or inputs that are less observable or unobservable in the market, the determination of fair value requires more judgment. Accordingly, the degree of judgment exercised by the Company in determining fair value is greatest for instruments categorized in Level 3. A financial instrument’s level within the fair value hierarchy is based on the lowest level of any input that is significant to the fair value measurement.

Financial instruments measured at fair value on a recurring basis include cash equivalents and investments (Note 4).

An entity may elect to measure many financial instruments and certain other items at fair value at specified election dates. Subsequent unrealized gains and losses on items for which the fair value option has been elected will be reported in net loss. The Company did not elect to measure any additional financial instruments or other items at fair value.
Revenue Recognition
Pieris has entered into several licensing agreements with collaboration partners for the development of Anticalin therapeutics against a variety of targets. The terms of these agreements provide for the transfer of multiple goods or services which may include: (i) licenses, or options to obtain licenses, to Pieris’s Anticalin technology and/or specific programs and (ii) research and development activities to be performed on behalf of or with a collaborative partner. Payments to Pieris under these agreements may include upfront fees (which include license and option fees), payments for research and development activities, payments based upon the achievement of certain milestones and royalties on product sales. There are no performance, cancellation, termination or refund provisions in any of the arrangements that could result in material financial consequences to Pieris.

Effective January 1, 2019, the Company adopted ASC 606. The standard requires a company to recognize revenue when it transfers goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration that the company expects to receive for those goods or services. The standard allows for two transition methods -- full retrospective, in which the standard is applied to each prior reporting period presented, or modified retrospective, in which the cumulative effect of initially applying the standard is recognized at the date of initial adoption. The Company elected the modified retrospective approach and applied it to contracts not completed at the date of adoption. Therefore, comparative prior periods have not been adjusted. The reported results for 2019 reflect the application of ASC 606 guidance while the reported results for 2018 were prepared under the guidance of FASB ASC Topic 605, Revenue Recognition, or ASC 605. Furthermore, the Company adopted the contract modification practical expedient set forth in ASC 606 and will reflect the aggregate effect of all modifications that occurred before January 1, 2019 when identifying the satisfied and unsatisfied performance obligations, determining the transaction price and allocating the transaction price to the satisfied and unsatisfied performance obligations. See Note 3 for additional details on these arrangements.

Collaborative Arrangements

The Company considers the nature and contractual terms of an arrangement and assess whether the arrangement involves a joint operating activity pursuant to which it is an active participant and exposed to significant risks and rewards with respect to the arrangement. If the Company is an active participant and exposed to the significant risks and rewards with respect to the arrangement, it accounts for these arrangements pursuant to ASC 808, Collaborative Arrangements, or ASC 808, and applies a systematic and rational approach to recognize revenue. The Company classifies payments received as revenue and payments made as a reduction of revenue in the period in which they are earned.

Revenue from Contracts with Customers

In accordance with ASC 606, revenue is recognized when a customer obtains control of promised goods or services. The amount of revenue recognized reflects the consideration to which the Company expects to be entitled in exchange for these goods and services. To achieve this core principle, the Company applies the following five steps: 1) identify the customer contract; 2) identify the contract’s performance obligations; 3) determine the transaction price; 4) allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations; and 5) recognize revenue when or as a performance obligation is satisfied.

The Company evaluates all promised goods and services within a customer contract and determines which of such goods and services are separate performance obligations. This evaluation includes an assessment of whether the good or service is capable of being distinct and whether the good or service is separable from other promises in the contract.  In assessing whether promised goods or services are distinct, the Company considers factors such as the stage of development of the underlying intellectual property and the capabilities of the customer to develop the intellectual property on their own or whether the required expertise is readily available.

Licensing arrangements are analyzed to determine whether the promised goods or services, which often include licenses, research and development services and governance committee services, are distinct or whether they must be accounted for as part of a combined performance obligation. If the license is considered not to be distinct, the license would then be combined with other promised goods or services as a combined performance obligation. If the Company is involved in a governance committee, it assesses whether its involvement constitutes a separate performance obligation. When governance committee services are determined to be separate performance obligations, the Company determines the fair value to be allocated to this promised service.

Certain contracts contain optional and additional items, which are considered marketing offers and are accounted for as separate contracts with the customer if such option is elected by the customer, unless the option provides a material right which would not be provided without entering into the contract.  An option that is considered a material right is accounted for as a separate performance obligation.

The transaction price is determined based on the consideration to which the Company will be entitled in exchange for transferring goods and services to the customer. A contract may contain variable consideration, including potential payments for both milestone and research and development services. For certain potential milestone payments, the Company estimates the amount of variable consideration by using the most likely amount method. In making this assessment, the Company evaluates factors such as the clinical, regulatory, commercial and other risks that must be overcome to achieve the milestone. Each reporting period the Company re-evaluates the probability of achievement of such variable consideration and any related constraints. Pieris will include variable consideration, without constraint, in the transaction price to the extent it is probable that a significant reversal in the amount of cumulative revenue recognized will not occur when the uncertainty associated with the variable consideration is subsequently resolved. For potential research and development service payments, the Company estimates the amount of variable consideration by using the expected value method, including any approved budget updates arising from additional research or development services.

If the contract contains a single performance obligation, the entire transaction price is allocated to the single performance obligation. Contracts that contain multiple performance obligations require an allocation of the transaction price among the performance obligations on a relative standalone selling price basis unless the transaction price is variable and meets the criteria to be allocated entirely to a performance obligation or to a distinct good or service that forms part of a single performance obligation.

The Company allocates the transaction price based on the estimated standalone selling price of the underlying performance obligations or in the case of certain variable consideration to one or more performance obligations. The Company must develop assumptions that require judgment to determine the stand-alone selling price for each performance obligation identified in the contract. The Company utilizes key assumptions to determine the stand-alone selling price, which may include other comparable transactions, pricing considered in negotiating the transaction and the estimated costs to complete the respective performance obligation. Certain variable consideration is allocated specifically to one or more performance obligations in a contract when the terms of the variable consideration relate to the satisfaction of the performance obligation and the resulting amounts allocated to each performance obligation are consistent with the amount the Company would expect to receive for each performance obligation.   

When a performance obligation is satisfied, revenue is recognized for the amount of the transaction price, excluding estimates of variable consideration that are constrained, that is allocated to that performance obligation on a relative standalone selling price basis. Significant management judgment is required in determining the level of effort required under an arrangement and the period over which the Company is expected to complete its performance obligations under an arrangement.

For performance obligations consisting of licenses and other promises, the Company utilizes judgment to assess the nature of the combined performance obligation to determine whether the combined performance obligation is satisfied over time or at a point in time and, if over time, the appropriate method of measuring progress for purposes of recognizing revenue from non- refundable, up-front fees. The Company evaluates the measure of progress each reporting period and, if necessary, adjusts the measure of performance and related revenue recognition. If the license to the Company’s intellectual property is determined to be distinct from the other performance obligations identified in the arrangement, the Company will recognize revenue from non-refundable, up-front fees allocated to the license when the license is transferred to the customer and the customer is able to use and benefit from the license.

Milestones and Royalties

The Company aggregates milestones into four categories: (i) research milestones, (ii) development milestones, (iii) commercial milestones, and (iv) sales milestones. Research milestones are typically achieved upon reaching certain success criteria as defined in each agreement related to developing an Anticalin protein against the specified target. Development milestones are typically reached when a compound reaches a defined phase of clinical research or passes such phase or upon gaining regulatory approvals. Commercial milestones are typically achieved when an approved pharmaceutical product reaches the status for commercial sale, including regulatory approval. Sales milestones are certain defined levels of net sales by the licensee, such as when a product first achieves global sales or annual sales of a specified amount.

There is uncertainty that the events to obtain the research and development milestones will be achieved given the nature of clinical development and the stage of the Company’s technology. The Company has thus determined that all research and development milestones will be constrained until it is deemed probable that a significant revenue reversal will not occur. For revenues from research and development milestones, payments will be recognized consistent with the recognition pattern of the performance obligation to which they relate.

For arrangements that include sales-based royalties, including milestone payments based on the level of sales, and for which the license is deemed to be the predominant item to which the royalties relate, the Company recognizes revenue at the later of (i) when the related sales occur, or (ii) when the performance obligation to which some or all of the royalty has been allocated has been satisfied (or partially satisfied). Commercial milestones and sales royalties are determined by sales or usage-based thresholds and will be accounted for under the royalty recognition constraint as constrained variable consideration.

Contract Balances

The Company recognizes a contract asset when the Company transfers goods or services to a customer before the customer pays consideration or before payment is due, excluding any amounts presented as a receivable (i.e., accounts receivable). A contract asset is an entity’s right to consideration in exchange for goods or services that the entity has transferred to a customer. The contract liabilities (i.e., deferred revenue) primarily relate to contracts where the Company has received payment but has not yet satisfied the related performance obligations.

In the event of an early termination of a collaboration agreement, any contract liabilities would be recognized in the period in which all Company obligations under the agreement have been fulfilled.

Costs to Obtain and Fulfill a Contract with a Customer

Certain costs to obtain customer contracts, including success-based fees paid to third-party service providers, and costs to fulfill customer contracts are capitalized in accordance with FASB ASC 340, Other Assets and Deferred Costs, or ASC 340. These costs are amortized to expense on a systemic basis that is consistent with the transfer to the customer of the goods or services to which the asset relates. The Company will expense the amortization of costs to obtain customer contracts to general and administrative expense and costs to fulfill customer contracts to research and development expense.
Under the Company´s existing strategic partnerships, the Company could receive the following potential milestone payments (in millions):
Research, Development & Commercial Milestones
Sales Milestones
Seattle Genetics






Total potential milestone payments


Operating Leases
Operating Leases

The Company leases its office and laboratory facilities and certain lease agreements contain free or escalating rent payment provisions. The Company recognizes rent expense under such leases on a straight-line basis over the term of the lease with the difference between the expense and the payments recorded as deferred rent on the consolidated balance sheets. Lease renewal periods are considered on a lease-by-lease basis in determining the lease term. Funding of leasehold improvements by the Company’s landlord are accounted for as a tenant improvement allowance and are amortized as a reduction of rent expense over the term of the lease. Leasehold improvements are amortized on a straight-line basis over the shorter of the useful life or the remaining lease term.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
In February 2016, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update, or ASU, No. 2016-2, Leases (Topic 842), or ASU 2016-2. Subsequently, the FASB also issued ASU 2019-01, Leases (Topic 842), or ASU 2019-01: Codification Improvements, which updated codification language under the standard. Under the amendments in ASU 2016-2, lessees will be required to recognize (i) a lease liability, which is a lessee's obligation to make lease payments arising from a lease, measured on a discounted basis and (ii) a right-of-use asset, which is an asset that represents the lessee’s right to use, or control the use of, a specified asset for the lease term for all leases (with the exception of short-term leases) at the commencement date. This guidance is effective for public emerging growth companies, like the Company, for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2019 including interim periods within those fiscal years. Early adoption is permitted. The Company anticipates an effective date of adoption for this standard in the fourth quarter of 2019, retroactive to January 1, 2019, when the Company anticipates losing emerging growth company status. The Company has begun to assess the current state of accounting for leases, to catalog all current leases effected and to review all vendor contracts for the potential existence of a lease in order to understand the gaps between the current state and required future state and to implement the new processes and controls required. The Company currently expects that adoption of this standard will have a material increase on both total assets and liabilities in its condensed consolidated financial statements based upon the Company's current leasing obligations.

In November 2018, the FASB issued ASU No. 2018-18, Collaborative Arrangements (Topic 808): Clarifying the Interaction between Topic 808 and Topic 606, or ASU 2018-18.  ASU 2018-18 makes targeted improvements to generally accepted accounting principles for collaborative arrangements, including: (i) clarification that certain transactions between collaborative arrangement participants should be accounted for as revenue under ASC 606 when the collaborative arrangement participant is a customer in the context of a unit of account, (ii) adding unit-of-account guidance in Topic 808 to align with the guidance in ASC 606, and (iii) a requirement that in a transaction with a collaborative arrangement participant that is not directly related to sales to third parties, presenting the transaction together with revenue recognized under ASC 606 is precluded if the collaborative arrangement participant is not a customer. This guidance is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2019, including interim periods within that fiscal year. The Company is currently evaluating the impact of adoption, if any, that this standard may have on its condensed consolidated financial statements.
The Company has considered other recent accounting pronouncements and concluded that they are either not applicable to the business or that the effect is not expected to be material to the unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements as a result of future adoption.