Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2017
Accounting Policies [Abstract]  
Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
Basis of Consolidation
The accompanying consolidated financial statements of Pieris Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiaries were prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“U.S. GAAP”). The 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 and 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.
Foreign Currency Translation
The financial statements of Pieris’ foreign subsidiaries are translated from local currency into reporting currency, which is U.S. dollars, using the current exchange rate at the balance sheet date for assets and liabilities, and the weighted average exchange rate prevailing during the period for revenues and expenses. The functional currency for Pieris’ foreign subsidiaries is considered to be the local currency for each entity and, accordingly, translation adjustments for these subsidiaries are included in accumulated other comprehensive loss within stockholders’ equity.
Realized and unrealized gains and losses resulting from foreign currency transactions denominated in currencies other than the functional currency are reflected as other (expense) income, net in the consolidated statements of operations. Foreign currency gains and losses on available-for-sale investment transactions are recorded to other comprehensive income on our balance sheet per Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) Topic 830, Foreign Currency Matters.
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 are considered to be cash equivalents. The Company’s current and non-current 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 Topic 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 interest income. There were no realized gains or losses recognized for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively.

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. As of December 31, 2017, there were no investments with a fair value that was significantly lower than the amortized cost basis or any investments that had been in an unrealized loss position for a significant period.
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, (“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.
Fair Values of Financial Instruments
The fair value of cash, accounts receivable, and accounts payable approximates the carrying value of these financial instruments because of the short-term nature of any maturities. The Company determines the estimated fair values of other financial instruments, using available market information and valuation methodologies, primarily input from independent third party pricing sources.
Accounts Receivable
Accounts receivable are recorded net of allowances for doubtful accounts and represent amounts due from third parties, strategic partners, and other license agreement counterparties. The Company monitors and evaluates collectability of receivables on an ongoing basis and considers whether an allowance for doubtful accounts is necessary. The Company determined that no such reserve is needed as of December 31, 2017 and 2016. Historically, Pieris has not had collectability issues.
Property and Equipment
Property and equipment are recorded at acquisition cost, less accumulated depreciation and impairment. Depreciation on property and equipment is calculated using the straight-line method over the remaining estimated useful lives of the assets. Maintenance and repairs to these assets are charged to expenses as occurred. The estimated useful life of the different groups of property and equipment is as follows:
Asset Classification
Estimated useful life (in years)
Leasehold improvements
shorter of useful life or remaining life of the lease
Laboratory equipment
10 - 14
Office and computer equipment
3 - 13

Impairment of Long-lived Assets
Pieris reviews its long-lived assets to be held and used for impairment whenever events or changes in business circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of the assets may not be fully recoverable. Pieris evaluates the realizability of its long-lived assets based on profitability and cash flow expectations for the related asset. Any write-downs are treated as permanent reductions in the carrying amount of the assets. Pieris believes that, as of each of the balance sheets presented, none of Pieris’ long-lived assets were impaired.
Revenue Recognition
Pieris has entered into several licensing and development agreements with collaboration partners for the development of Anticalin® therapeutics against a variety of targets in diseases and conditions. The terms of these agreements contain multiple elements and deliverables, which may include: (i) licenses, or options to obtain licenses, to Pieris’ Anticalin technology and (ii) research and development activities to be performed on behalf of the 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. Pieris follows the provisions of the FASB ASC Topic 605-25, Revenue Recognition—Multiple-Element Arrangements ("ASC 605-25") and FASB ASC Topic 605-28, Revenue Recognition—Milestone Method ("ASC 605-28") in accounting for these agreements.
Multiple-Element Arrangements
When evaluating multiple-element arrangements, Pieris identifies the deliverables included within the agreement and evaluates which deliverables represent separate units of accounting based on whether the delivered element has stand-alone value to the customer or if the arrangement includes a general right of return for delivered items.
The consideration received is allocated among the separate units of accounting using the relative selling price method, and the applicable revenue recognition criteria are applied to each of the separate units of accounting. Pieris uses the best estimate of selling price (“BESP”) methodology to estimate the selling price for each deliverable and unit of accounting because Pieris does not have vendor specific objective evidence (“VSOE”) or third-party evidence (“TPE”) of selling price for these deliverables. To determine the estimated selling price of a deliverable, Pieris considers market conditions as well as entity-specific factors, including those factors contemplated in negotiating the agreements, terms of previous collaborative agreements, similar agreements entered into by third parties, market opportunity, estimated development costs, probability of success, and the time needed to commercialize a product candidate pursuant to the license. In validating Pieris’ BESP, Pieris evaluates whether changes in the key assumptions used to determine the BESP will have a significant effect on the allocation of arrangement consideration among multiple deliverables.
Multiple element arrangements, such as license and development arrangements, are analyzed to determine whether the deliverables, which often include licenses and performance obligations such as research and development services and steering committee services, can be separated or whether they must be accounted for as a combined unit of accounting in accordance with U.S. GAAP. The Company recognizes the arrangement consideration allocated to licenses as revenue upon delivery of the license only if the license has stand-alone value. If the license is considered not to have stand-alone value, the license would then be combined with other undelivered elements into a combined unit of accounting and the license payments and payments for performance obligations would be recognized as revenue when the revenue recognition criteria have been satisfied for the last deliverable within the unit of accounting. In the case of combined units of accounting that include delivered licenses and undelivered services to be provided over time, revenue would be recognized over the estimated period during which services will be provided. For units of accounting that include licenses to be delivered upon satisfactory completion of certain research services, revenue is deferred until the license is delivered and the performance obligation is satisfied.
If the Company is involved in a steering committee, as part of a multiple element arrangement, it assesses whether its involvement constitutes a performance obligation or a right to participate. When steering committee services are determined to be performance obligations, the Company determines the fair value to be allocated to this deliverable and recognize the revenue over the expected term of the development period of the products. Otherwise, the fair value for participation is combined with other research services or performance obligations and is recognized over the term which the Company expects to complete its aggregate performance obligations.
The Company recognizes arrangement consideration allocated to each unit of accounting when all of the revenue recognition criteria in ASC 605-25 are satisfied for that particular unit of accounting. For each unit of accounting, the Company must determine the period over which the performance obligations will be performed and revenue will be recognized. If there is no discernible pattern of performance or objectively measurable performance measures do not exist, then the Company recognizes revenue under the arrangement on a straight-line basis over the period the Company is expected to complete its performance obligations. Conversely, if the pattern of performance over which the service is provided to the customer can be determined and objectively measurable performance measures exist, then the Company recognizes revenue under the arrangement using the proportional performance method. Revenue recognized is limited to the lesser of the cumulative amount of payments received or the cumulative amount of revenue earned as of the period ending date.
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.
The accounting treatment for options granted to collaborators is dependent upon the nature of the option granted to the collaborative partner. Options are considered substantive if, at the inception of an agreement, Pieris is at risk as to whether the collaborative partner will choose to exercise the option(s) to secure additional goods or services. Factors that are considered in evaluating whether options are substantive include the overall objective of the arrangement, benefit the collaborator might obtain from the agreement without exercising the options, cost to exercise the options relative to the total upfront consideration, and additional financial commitments or economic penalties imposed on the collaborator as a result of exercising the options.
In arrangements where options to obtain additional deliverables are considered substantive, Pieris determines whether the optional licenses are priced at a significant and incremental discount. If the prices include a significant and incremental discount, the option is considered a deliverable in the arrangement. However, if not priced at a discount, the option is not considered a deliverable in the arrangement. When a collaborator exercises an option considered to be at a significant and incremental discount to acquire an additional license, the exercise fee that is attributed to the additional license and any incremental discount allocated at inception are recognized in a manner consistent with the treatment of up-front payments for licenses (i.e., license and research services). In the event an option expires un-exercised, any incremental discounts deferred at the inception of the arrangement are recognized into revenue upon expiration. For options that are non-substantive, the additional licenses to which the options pertain are considered deliverables upon inception of the arrangement; Pieris applies the multiple-element revenue recognition criteria to determine accounting treatment.
Payments or reimbursements resulting from Pieris’ research and development efforts in multi-element arrangements, in which Pieris’ research and development efforts are considered to be a deliverable, are included in allocable consideration and allocated to the units of accounting. These reimbursements are recognized as the services are performed and are presented on a gross basis, so long as there is persuasive evidence of an arrangement, the fee is fixed or determinable, and collection of the related receivable is reasonably assured. Revenue recognized cannot exceed the amount that has been earned and has been billed or is currently billable. Amounts received prior to satisfying the above revenue recognition criteria are recorded as deferred revenue in the accompanying balance sheets.
Milestone Payments and Royalties
At the inception of each agreement that includes milestone payments, Pieris evaluates whether each milestone is substantive and at risk to both parties on the basis of the contingent nature of the milestone. This evaluation includes an assessment of whether: (a) the consideration is commensurate with either (1) the entity’s performance to achieve the milestone, or (2) the enhancement of the value of the delivered item(s) as a result of a specific outcome resulting from the entity’s performance to achieve the milestone, (b) the consideration relates solely to past performance and (c) the consideration is reasonable relative to all of the deliverables and payment terms within the arrangement. Pieris evaluates factors such as the scientific, regulatory, commercial and other risks that must be overcome to achieve the respective milestone, the level of effort and investment required to achieve the respective milestone and whether the milestone consideration is reasonable relative to all deliverables and payment terms in the arrangement in making this assessment.
Pieris 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.
For revenues from research, development, and commercial milestone payments, if the milestones are deemed substantive and the milestone payments are nonrefundable, such amounts are recognized entirely upon successful accomplishment of the milestones, assuming all other revenue recognition criteria are met. Milestones that are not considered substantive are accounted for as contingent revenue and will be recognized when achieved to the extent the Company has no remaining performance obligations under the arrangement. Revenues from sales milestone payments are accounted for as royalties and are recorded as revenue upon achievement of the milestone, assuming all other revenue recognition criteria are met. Royalty payments are recognized in revenues based on the timing of royalty payments earned in accordance with the agreements, which typically is the period when the relevant sales occur, assuming all other revenue recognition criteria are met.
Research and Development
Research and development expenses are charged to the statement of operations as incurred. Research and development expenses are comprised of costs incurred in performing research and development activities, including salaries and benefits, facilities costs, pre-clinical and clinical costs, contract services, consulting, depreciation and amortization expense, and other related costs. Costs associated with acquired technology, in the form of upfront fees or milestone payments, are charged to research and development expense as incurred.
Incremental direct cost
Incremental direct costs incurred related to the acquisition or origination of a customer contract in a transaction that results in the deferral of revenue are recorded to the statement of operations as incurred.
Income Taxes
The Company applies ASC Topic 740 Income Taxes, which established financial accounting and reporting requirements for the effects of income taxes that result from the Company’s activities during the current and preceding years. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are recognized for the future tax consequences attributable to differences between the financial statement carrying amounts of existing assets and liabilities and their respective tax bases, and operating losses and tax credit carry forwards. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are measured using enacted statutory tax rates expected to apply to taxable income in the jurisdictions and years in which those temporary differences are expected to be recovered or settled. The effect on deferred tax assets and liabilities of a change in tax rates is recognized in income in the period that includes the enactment date. Where the Company determines that it is more likely than not that some portion or all of the deferred tax assets will not be realized in the future, the deferred tax assets are reduced by a valuation allowance. The Company records interest related and penalties related to uncertain tax positions as part of income tax expense.
Stock-based Compensation
Pieris measures share-based payments in accordance with ASC Topic 718, Stock Compensation. Pieris records its stock-based compensation expense over the requisite service period. Determining the appropriate fair value model and related assumptions requires judgment, including estimating share price volatility and expected terms of the awards. For employee options, the fair value measurement date is generally on the date of grant and the related compensation expense is recognized on a straight-line basis over the requisite period of the awards, less expense for actual forfeitures.
The Company uses the Black-Scholes option pricing model to determine the estimated fair value for stock-based awards. Option-pricing models require the input of various subjective assumptions, including the option’s expected life, expected dividend yield, price volatility, risk free interest rate and forfeitures of the underlying stock. Due to the limited operating history of the Company as a public entity and a lack of company specific historical and implied volatility data, the Company has based its estimate of expected volatility on the historical volatility of a group of similar companies that are publicly traded. When selecting these public companies on which it has based its expected stock price volatility, the Company selected companies with comparable characteristics to it, including enterprise value, risk profiles, position within the industry, and with historical
share price information sufficient to meet the expected term of the stock-based awards. The Company computes historical volatility data using the daily closing prices for the selected companies’ shares during the equivalent period of the calculated expected term of the stock-based awards. The Company will continue to apply this process until a sufficient amount of historical information regarding the volatility of its own stock price becomes available.
Due to the lack of Company specific historical option activity, the Company has estimated the expected term of its employee stock options using the “simplified” method, whereby, the expected term equals the arithmetic average of the vesting term and the original contractual term of the option. The expected term for non-employee awards is the remaining contractual term of the option. The risk-free interest rates are based on the U.S. Treasury securities with a maturity date commensurate with the expected term of the associated award. The Company has never paid, and does not expect to pay dividends in the foreseeable future.
The Company early adopted ASU 2016-09 Compensation - Stock Compensation (Topic 718) as of January 1, 2016. In connection with the early adoption, the Company elected an accounting policy to record forfeitures as they occur. There was no material financial statement impact upon adoption. ASU 2016-09 also provides that companies no longer record excess tax benefits or certain tax deficiencies in additional paid-in capital. Instead, all excess tax benefits and tax deficiencies are recorded as income tax expense or benefit in the Company's statement of operations and comprehensive loss. There was no financial statement impact of adopting this provision of ASU 2016-09 as there were no options previously exercised. As such, the adoption of this standard did not have a material impact on the financial statements. For the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016, the Company did not record an income statement benefit for excess tax benefits as a valuation allowance is also required on these amounts.
Accruals are recorded for loss contingencies when it is probable that a liability has been incurred and the amount of the related loss can be reasonably estimated. Pieris evaluates, on a quarterly basis, developments in legal proceedings and other matters that could cause an increase or decrease in the amount of the liability that has been accrued previously. Considering facts known at the time of the assessment, Pieris determines whether potential losses are considered reasonably possible or probable and whether they are estimable. Based upon this assessment, Pieris carries out an evaluation of disclosure requirements and considers possible accruals in the financial statements.
Segment Reporting
Operating segments are identified as components of an enterprise where separate discrete financial information is available for evaluation by the chief operating decision maker in making decisions on how to allocate resources and assess performance. Pieris operates as a single segment dedicated to the discovery and development of biotechnological applications and the Company’s chief operating decision maker (“CODM”) makes decisions based on the Company as a whole. The Company has determined that its CODM is its Chief Executive Officer.
Earnings per Share
Basic earnings per share attributable to common stockholders is calculated by dividing net loss attributable to common stockholders by the weighted average shares outstanding during the period, without consideration for common stock equivalents.
Diluted earnings per share attributable to common stockholders is calculated by adjusting weighted average shares outstanding for the dilutive effect of common stock equivalents outstanding for the period, determined using the treasury-stock and if-converted methods. For purposes of the diluted net loss per share attributable to common stockholders' calculation, preferred stock, stock options, unvested restricted stock, and warrants are considered to be common stock equivalents but have been excluded from the calculation of diluted net loss per share attributable to common stockholders, as their effect would be anti-dilutive for all periods presented. Therefore, basic and diluted net loss per share were the same for all periods presented.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
Standards not yet adopted
In May 2014, the FASB issued Accounting Standard Update (“ASU”) No. 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606) (“ASU 2014-09”). Subsequently, the FASB also issued ASU 2015-14, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606) , which adjusted the effective date of ASU 2014-09; ASU No. 2016-08, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606): Principal versus Agent Considerations (Reporting Revenue Gross versus Net), which amends the principal-versus-agent implementation guidance and illustrations in ASU 2014-09; ASU No. 2016-10, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606): Identifying Performance Obligations and Licensing, which clarifies identifying performance obligation and licensing implementation guidance and illustrations in ASU 2014-09; and ASU No. 2016-12, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606): Narrow-Scope Improvements and Practical Expedients, which addresses implementation issues and is intended to reduce the cost and complexity of applying the new revenue standard in ASU 2014-09 (collectively, the “Revenue ASUs”).
The Revenue ASUs provide an accounting standard for a single comprehensive model for use in accounting for revenue arising from contracts with customers and supersedes most current revenue recognition guidance. The accounting standard is effective for public emerging growth companies ("EGC"), like Pieris, for interim and annual periods beginning after December 15, 2018, with an option to early adopt for interim and annual periods beginning after December 15, 2017. The guidance permits two methods of adoption: retrospectively to each prior reporting period presented (the full retrospective method), or retrospectively with the cumulative effect of initially applying the guidance recognized at the date of initial application (the modified retrospective method). The Company is in the process of determining the date and method of adoption and the impact of the Revenue Recognition ASUs on its financial statements.
In February 2016, the FASB issued ASU No. 2016-2, Leases (Topic 842) ("ASU 2016-2"). Under the amendments in ASU 2016-2, lessees will be required to recognize (i) a lease liability, which is a lessees 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 fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2019 including interim periods within those fiscal years. Early adoption is permitted. The Company is currently evaluating the potential impact the adoption of this standard will have on its financial statements and related disclosures.
In May 2017, the FASB issued ASU No. 2017-09, Compensation - Stock compensation (Topic 718) (“ASU 2017-09”). The amendments in this update provide guidance about which changes to the terms or conditions of a share-based payment award require an entity to apply modification accounting. This ASU will be effective for the Company’s fiscal year beginning January 1, 2018, and the Company is not expecting a material impact the adoption will have on its financial statements.
Pieris 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.