Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
|12 Months Ended|
Dec. 31, 2020
|Accounting Policies [Abstract]|
|Summary of Significant Accounting Policies||
Basis of Presentation
We prepare our consolidated financial statements in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (“U.S. GAAP”) and follow the rules and regulations of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).
Principles of Consolidation
The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of Atara and our wholly owned subsidiaries. All intercompany balances and transactions are eliminated in consolidation.
Segment and Geographic Information
We operate and manage our business as one operating and reportable segment, which is the business of developing and commercializing therapeutics. Our Chief Executive Officer, who is our chief operating decision maker, reviews financial information on an aggregate basis for purposes of allocating resources and evaluating financial performance. Substantially all of our assets are located in the U.S.
We have incurred significant operating losses since inception and have relied primarily on public and private equity financings to fund our operations. As we continue to incur losses, our transition to profitability will depend on the successful development, approval and commercialization of product candidates and on the achievement of sufficient revenues to support our cost structure. We may never achieve profitability, and unless and until we do, we will need to continue to raise additional capital. We expect that existing cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments as of December 31, 2020 will be sufficient to fund our operations for at least the next twelve months from the date of issuance of these financial statements.
Concentration of Credit Risk and Other Uncertainties
We place cash and cash equivalents in the custody of financial institutions that management believes are of high credit quality, the amount of which at times, may be in excess of the amount insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. We also make short-term investments in money market funds; U.S. Treasury, government agency and corporate debt obligations; commercial paper; certificates of deposit; and asset-backed securities, which can be subject to certain credit risk. However, we mitigate the risks by investing in high-grade instruments, limiting our exposure to any one issuer and monitoring the ongoing creditworthiness of the financial institutions and issuers.
One research, development and license agreement entered into in 2020 accounted for all of the deferred revenue as of December 31, 2020. For the year ended December 31, 2020, we did not recognize any revenue from this agreement. Our accounts receivable balance consists of amounts due pursuant to this agreement. We believe the receivable balance is fully collectible.
We are subject to certain risks and uncertainties and believe that changes in any of the following areas could have a material adverse effect on future financial position or results of operations: our ability to obtain future financing; regulatory approval and market acceptance of, and reimbursement for, our product candidates, if approved by applicable regulatory authorities; performance of third-party clinical research organizations and manufacturers upon which we rely; development of sales channels; protection of our intellectual property; litigation or claims against us based on intellectual property, patent, product, regulatory or other factors; and our ability to attract and retain employees necessary to support our growth.
Use of Estimates
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with U.S. GAAP requires management to make estimates, assumptions and judgments that affect the amounts reported in the financial statements and accompanying notes. Significant estimates relied upon in preparing these financial statements include estimates related to revenue recognition, clinical study and other accruals, stock-based compensation expense and income taxes. Actual results could differ materially from those estimates.
On January 1, 2019, we adopted Accounting Standards Update (“ASU”) No. 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842). We recorded $14.3 million of operating lease assets and $15.3 million of operating lease liabilities on our consolidated balance sheet as of January 1, 2019 and de-recognized the build-to-suit asset and corresponding lease obligation of $10.3 million for our Thousand Oaks manufacturing facility lease. The transition method we elected for adoption included recording a cumulative effect adjustment to retained earnings as of January 1, 2019, which was not material.
We determine if an arrangement is a lease at inception. Operating leases are included in operating lease assets, other current liabilities, and operating lease liabilities on our consolidated balance sheets. Leases with an initial term of 12 months or less are not recorded on the balance sheet; we recognize short-term lease expense for these leases on a straight-line basis over the lease term. Finance leases are included in other assets, other current liabilities, and other long-term liabilities on our consolidated balance sheets.
Lease assets and lease liabilities are recognized based on the present value of the future minimum lease payments over the lease term at commencement date. The lease term includes renewal options that we are reasonably certain of exercising as of the commencement date. None of the lease terms used to calculate the future minimum lease payments at commencement date include renewal options. As most of our leases do not provide an implicit rate, we use our incremental borrowing rate based on the information available at commencement date in determining the present value of future payments. The incremental borrowing rate for our leases is determined based on lease term and currency in which lease payments are made, adjusted for impacts of collateral. Lease assets also includes any lease payments made and excludes lease incentives and initial direct costs incurred. Operating lease expense for minimum lease payments is recognized on a straight-line basis over the lease term. Finance lease assets are amortized over the shorter of the lease term or the asset’s estimated useful life.
Our facilities and equipment operating leases have lease and non-lease components and we have made a policy election to account for the lease and non-lease components as a single lease component.
Through December 31, 2018, the leases were reviewed for classification as operating, capital or build-to-suit leases. For operating leases, rent was recognized on a straight-line basis over the lease period. For capital leases, we recorded the leased asset in property and equipment, net, with the related amortization of the capital lease asset recorded in depreciation expense, and we recorded a corresponding liability for principal and interest. Payments were recorded as reductions to these liabilities with interest being charged to interest expense in our consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive loss.
We analyzed the nature of the renovations and our involvement during the construction period of our manufacturing facility and determined that we were the deemed “owner” of the construction project during the construction period. As a result, we were required to capitalize the fair value of the building as well as the construction costs incurred on our consolidated balance sheet along with a corresponding financing liability for landlord-paid construction costs (i.e., “build-to-suit” accounting).
Once construction was complete, the Company considered the requirements for sale-leaseback accounting treatment, including evaluating whether all risks of ownership have been transferred back to the landlord, as evidenced by a lack of continuing involvement in the leased property. Since the arrangement did not qualify for sale-leaseback accounting treatment, the building asset remained on the Company’s consolidated balance sheets at its historical cost, and such asset was depreciated over its estimated useful life. The Company bifurcated its lease payments into a portion allocated to the building and a portion allocated to the parcel of land on which the building has been built. The portion of the lease payments allocated to the land was treated for accounting purposes as operating lease payments, and therefore was recorded as rent expense in the consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive loss. The portion of the lease payments allocated to the building was further bifurcated into a portion allocated to interest expense and a portion allocated to reduce the build-to-suit lease obligation. The initial recording of these assets and liabilities were classified as non-cash investing and financing items, respectively, for purposes of the consolidated statements of cash flows. The build-to-suit asset and corresponding lease obligation was derecognized upon adoption of the new lease standard as we did not control the building during the construction period. See Note 8 for further information.
Asset Retirement Obligations (“ARO”)
ARO are legal obligations associated with the retirement of long-lived assets pertaining to leasehold improvements. These liabilities are initially recorded at fair value and the related asset retirement costs are capitalized by increasing the carrying amount of the related assets by the same amount as the liability. Asset retirement costs are subsequently depreciated over the useful lives of the related assets. Subsequent to initial recognition, the Company records period-to-period changes in the ARO liability resulting from the passage of time and revisions to either the timing or the amount of the original estimate of undiscounted cash flows. The Company derecognizes ARO liabilities when the related obligations are settled.
Transactions and monetary assets and liabilities that are denominated in a foreign currency are translated into U.S. dollars at the current exchange rate on the transaction date and as of each balance sheet date, respectively, with gains or losses on foreign exchange changes recognized in interest and other income (expense), net in the consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive loss. Foreign currency-denominated monetary assets and liabilities as of December 31, 2020 were not material.
Cash Equivalents and Short-Term Investments
Cash equivalents are defined as short-term, highly liquid investments with original maturities of 90 days or less at the date of purchase, and generally consist of money market funds, U.S. Treasury, government agency and corporate debt obligations, and commercial paper.
Investments with original maturities of greater than 90 days are classified as short-term investments on the balance sheet, and consist primarily of U.S. Treasury, government agency and corporate debt obligations, commercial paper and asset-backed securities.
As our entire investment portfolio is considered available for use in current operations, we classify all investments as available-for-sale and as current assets, even though the stated maturity may be more than one year from the current balance sheet date. Available-for-sale securities are carried at fair value, with unrealized gains and losses reported in accumulated other comprehensive loss, which is a separate component of stockholders’ equity in the consolidated balance sheet.
The amortized cost of securities is adjusted for amortization of premiums and accretion of discounts to maturity, which are both recorded to interest and other income (expense), net in the consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive loss.
Changes in the fair value of available-for-sale securities impact the consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive loss only when such securities are sold, if an allowance for credit losses is recognized or if an impairment is recognized. Realized gains and losses on the sale of securities are determined by specific identification of each security’s cost basis. We regularly review our investment portfolio to determine if any security is impaired, which would require us to record an allowance for credit losses or impairment charge in the period any such determination is made. In making this judgment, we evaluate, among other things, the duration and extent to which the fair value of a security is less than its cost, our intent to sell or whether it is more likely than not that we will be required to sell the security before recovery of its amortized cost basis, the financial condition of the issuer and any changes thereto, and, as necessary, the portion of a decline in fair value that is credit-related. This assessment could change in the future due to new developments or changes in assumptions related to any particular security. Realized gains and losses, allowances for credit losses and impairments on available-for-sale securities, if any, are recorded to interest and other income, net in the statements of operations and comprehensive loss.
Fair Value Measurement
The carrying amounts of certain of our financial instruments including cash equivalents, accounts receivable, prepaid expenses and other current assets, accounts payable and accrued liabilities approximate fair value due to their short maturities. Short-term investments are comprised of available-for-sale securities, which are carried at fair value.
Fair Value of Financial Instruments
Our financial assets are measured at fair value on a recurring basis using the following hierarchy to prioritize valuation inputs, in accordance with applicable GAAP:
We review the fair value hierarchy classification on a quarterly basis. Changes in the ability to observe valuation inputs may result in a reclassification of levels of certain securities within the fair value hierarchy. We recognize transfers into and out of levels within the fair value hierarchy in the period in which the actual event or change in circumstances that caused the transfer occurs. There have been no transfers between Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 in any periods presented.
Financial assets and liabilities are considered Level 2 when their fair values are determined using inputs that are observable in the market or can be derived principally from or corroborated by observable market data such as pricing for similar securities, recently executed transactions, cash flow models with yield curves, and benchmark securities. In addition, Level 2 financial instruments are valued using comparisons to like-kind financial instruments and models that use readily observable market data as their basis. U.S. Treasury, government agency and corporate debt obligations, commercial paper and asset-backed securities are valued primarily using market prices of comparable securities, bid/ask quotes, interest rate yields and prepayment spreads and are included in Level 2.
Financial assets and liabilities are considered Level 3 when their fair values are determined using pricing models, discounted cash flow methodologies, or similar techniques, and at least one significant model assumption or input is unobservable. We have no Level 3 financial assets or liabilities.
Property and Equipment, net
Property and equipment are stated at cost and depreciated using the straight-line method over the estimated useful lives of the assets, ranging from three to five years. Costs incurred to acquire, construct or install property and equipment during the construction stage of a capital project or costs incurred to purchase and develop internal use software during the application development stage are recorded as construction in progress. Leasehold improvements are amortized over the lesser of the life of the leasehold improvements or the lease term. Maintenance and repairs are charged to operations as incurred.
We evaluate the carrying amount of our long-lived assets whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the assets may not be recoverable. An impairment loss would be recognized when estimated future cash flows expected to result from the use of the asset and its eventual disposition are less than the carrying amount of the asset. To date, there have been no such impairment losses.
Stock-Based Compensation Expense
We account for stock-based compensation expense, including the expense of restricted common stock awards (“RSAs”), grants of restricted stock units (“RSUs”), and stock options that may be settled in shares of our common stock, based on the fair values of the equity instruments issued. The fair value is determined on the measurement date, which is generally the date of grant. The fair value for our RSAs is their intrinsic value, which is the difference between the fair value of the underlying stock at the measurement date and the purchase price. The fair value of our RSUs is the fair value of the underlying stock at the measurement date. The fair value for our stock option awards is determined at the grant date using the Black-Scholes valuation model. For awards with performance-based vesting criteria, we assess the probability of the achievement of the performance conditions at the end of each reporting period and begin to recognize the share-based compensation costs when it becomes probable that the performance conditions will be met. For awards that are subject to both service and performance conditions, no expense is recognized until it is probable that performance conditions will be met. Stock-based compensation expense for awards with time-based vesting criteria is recognized as expense on a straight-line basis over the requisite service period. Stock-based compensation expense for awards with performance and other vesting criteria is recognized as expense under an accelerated graded vesting model.
Key assumptions used in the Black-Scholes valuation model used for employee stock awards include:
Expected term – We derived the expected term using the “simplified” method (the expected term is determined as the average of the time-to-vesting and the contractual life of the options), as we have limited historical information to develop expectations about future exercise patterns and post vesting employment termination behavior.
Expected volatility – Expected volatility is estimated using comparable public companies’ volatility for similar terms.
Expected dividend – We have not historically declared or paid dividends to our stockholders and have no plans to pay dividends; therefore, we assumed an expected dividend yield of 0%.
Risk-free interest rate – The risk-free interest rate is based on the yield on U.S. Treasury securities with the expected term of the associated award.
The fair value of our common stock is based on observable market prices. We account for forfeitures of stock-based awards as they occur.
At inception, we determine whether contracts are within the scope of Accounting Standards Codification Topic 606 (ASU No. 2014-09), Revenue from Contracts with Customers, and all subsequent amendments (collectively, “ASC 606”) or other topics. For contracts that are determined to be within the scope of 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 we expect to be entitled to receive in exchange for these goods and services. To achieve this core principle, we apply the following five steps (i) identify the contract with the customer; (ii) identify the performance obligations in the contract; (iii) determine the transaction price; (iv) allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract; and (v) recognize revenue when or as we satisfy a performance obligation. We only apply the five-step model to contracts when we determine that collection of substantially all consideration for goods and services that are transferred is probable based on the customer’s intent and ability to pay the promised consideration.
Performance obligations promised in a contract are identified based on the goods and services that will be transferred to the customer that are both capable of being distinct and are distinct in the context of the contract. To the extent a contract includes multiple promised goods and services, we apply judgment to determine whether promised goods and services are both capable of being distinct and distinct in the context of the contract. If these criteria are not met, the promised goods and services are accounted for as a combined performance obligation.
The transaction price is determined based on the consideration to which we will be entitled in exchange for transferring goods and services to the customer. To the extent the transaction price includes variable consideration, we estimate the amount of variable consideration that should be included in the transaction price utilizing either the expected value method or the most likely amount method, depending on the nature of the variable consideration. Variable consideration is included in the transaction price if, in our judgment, it is probable that a significant future reversal of cumulative revenue under the contract will not occur. Any estimates, including the effect of the constraint on variable consideration, are evaluated at each reporting period for any changes. Determining the transaction price requires significant judgment, which is discussed in further detail for our research and license agreement in Note 7. Our research and license agreement did not contain a significant financing component.
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 to each performance obligation 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 service that forms part of a single performance obligation. The consideration to be received is allocated among the separate performance obligations based on relative standalone selling prices. We typically determine standalone selling prices using an adjusted market assessment approach model.
We satisfy performance obligations either over time or at a point in time. Revenue is recognized over time if either (i) the customer simultaneously receives and consumes the benefits provided by our performance, (ii) our performance creates or enhances an asset that the customer controls as the asset is created or enhanced or (iii) our performance does not create an asset with an alternative use to the entity and we have an enforceable right to payment for performance completed to date. If we do not satisfy a performance obligation over time, the related performance obligation is satisfied at a point in time by transferring control of a promised good or service to a customer. We evaluate the measure of progress each reporting period and, if necessary, adjust the measure of performance and related revenue recognition.
As of December 31, 2020, our deferred revenue is related to the Bayer License Agreement, which is within the scope of ASC 606. As discussed in further detail in Note 7, the terms of this arrangement include potential payments to us for the following: nonrefundable, upfront fees; development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments; research and development funding payments; and royalties on the net sales of licensed products. These payments relate to promised goods or services for which revenue will be recognized upon our satisfaction of the underlying performance obligations.
Licenses of intellectual property: If the license of our intellectual property is determined to be distinct from the other performance obligations identified in an arrangement, we recognize revenues from consideration allocated to the license when the license is transferred to the customer and the customer is able to use and benefit from the license. For licenses that are combined with other promises, we utilize 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.
Milestone payments: At the inception of each arrangement that includes development milestone payments, the Company evaluates the probability of reaching the milestones and estimates the amount to be included in the transaction price using the most likely amount method. If it is probable that a significant revenue reversal would not occur in the future, the associated milestone value is included in the transaction price. Milestone payments that are not within the control of the Company or the licensee, such as regulatory approvals, are not considered probable of being achieved until those approvals are received and therefore revenue recognized is constrained as management is unable to assert that a significant reversal of revenue would not be probable. The transaction price is then allocated to each performance obligation on a relative standalone selling price basis, for which the Company recognizes revenue as or when the performance obligations under the contract are satisfied. At the end of each subsequent reporting period, the Company re-evaluates the probability of achievement of such development milestones and any related constraint and, if necessary, adjusts its estimate of the overall transaction price. Any such adjustments are recorded on a cumulative catch-up basis, which would affect collaboration and license revenues and the consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive loss in the period of adjustment.
Royalties: For arrangements that include sales-based royalties, including milestone payments based on levels of sales, if the license is deemed to be the predominant item to which the royalties relate, we recognize 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. To date, we have not recognized any royalty revenue resulting from the Bayer License Agreement.
We receive payments from our customer based on billing schedules established in each contract. Our contract liabilities consist of deferred revenue. Upfront payments and fees are recorded as deferred revenue upon receipt or when due and may require deferral of revenue recognition to a future period until the we have satisfied our obligations under these arrangements.
Certain judgments affect the application of our revenue recognition policy. For example, we record short-term and long-term deferred revenue based on our best estimate of when such revenue will be recognized. Short-term deferred revenue consists of amounts that are expected to be recognized as revenue in the next 12 months, and long-term deferred revenue consists of amounts that we do not expect will be recognized in the next 12 months. This estimate is based on our current operating plan and, if our operating plan should change in the future, we may recognize a different amount of deferred revenue over the next 12-month period.
Customer payments are recorded as deferred revenue upon receipt or when invoiced and may require deferral of revenue recognition to a future period until we satisfy its performance obligations under these arrangements. Amounts payable to us are recorded as accounts receivable when our right to consideration is unconditional.
Research and Development Expense
Research and development expense consists of costs incurred in performing research and development activities, including compensation and benefits for research and development employees, including stock-based compensation; expenses incurred under agreements with contract research organizations and investigative sites that conduct clinical and preclinical studies; the costs of acquiring and manufacturing clinical study materials and other supplies; payments under licensing and research and development agreements; other outside services and consulting costs, and facilities, information technology and overhead expenses. Research and development costs are expensed as incurred.
Clinical Study Accruals
Costs for preclinical studies, clinical studies and manufacturing activities are recognized based on an evaluation of our vendors’ progress towards completion of specific tasks, using data such as patient enrollment, clinical site activations or information provided to us by our vendors regarding their actual costs incurred. Payments for these activities are based on the terms of individual contracts and payment timing may differ significantly from the period in which the services are performed. We determine accrual estimates through reports from and discussions with applicable personnel and outside service providers as to the progress or state of completion of studies, or the services completed. Our estimates of accrued expenses as of each balance sheet date are based on the facts and circumstances known at the time. Costs that are paid in advance of performance are deferred as a prepaid expense and amortized over the service period as the services are provided.
Defined Contribution Plan
We have one qualified 401(k) plan covering all eligible employees. Under the plan, employees may contribute up to the statutory allowable amount for any calendar year. Beginning in 2019, we make matching contributions, equal to 50% of each dollar contributed up to the first 6% of an individual’s eligible earnings, up to the annual IRS maximum. For the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, we recorded matching contributions of approximately $2.1 million and $1.6 million, respectively.
Other Current Liabilities
Other current liabilities consisted of the following as of each period end:
We use the asset and liability method to account for income taxes. We record deferred tax assets and liabilities for the expected future tax consequences of temporary differences between the financial statement carrying amounts and the tax basis of assets and liabilities using enacted tax rates expected to be in effect when the differences are expected to reverse. Valuation allowances are provided when necessary to reduce net deferred tax assets to the amount that is more likely than not to be realized. Based on the available evidence, we are unable, at this time, to support the determination that it is more likely than not that our deferred tax assets will be utilized in the future. Accordingly, we recorded a full valuation allowance as of December 31, 2020 and 2019. We intend to maintain valuation allowances until sufficient evidence exists to support their reversal.
Tax benefits related to uncertain tax positions are recognized when it is more likely than not that a tax position will be sustained during an audit. Interest and penalties related to unrecognized tax benefits are included within the provision for income tax.
Comprehensive Income (Loss)
Comprehensive income (loss) is defined as a change in equity of a business enterprise during a period resulting from transactions from non-owner sources. Our other comprehensive income (loss) is comprised solely of unrealized gains (losses) on available-for-sale securities and is presented net of taxes. We have not recorded any reclassifications from other comprehensive income (loss) to net loss during any period presented.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
The Company considers the applicability and impact of any ASUs issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”). Other than the ASUs we adopted effective January 1, 2020 and listed below, all other ASUs were assessed and determined to be either not applicable or are expected to have minimal impact on our consolidated financial statements.
Adoption of New Accounting Pronouncements
We adopted ASU No. 2016-13 (as amended by ASUs 2018-19, 2019-04, 2019-05 and 2019-11), Financial Instruments - Credit Losses (Topic 326): Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments, prospectively on January 1, 2020. Under this new guidance, a company is required to estimate credit losses on certain types of financial instruments using an expected-loss model, replacing the current incurred-loss model, and record the estimate through an allowance for credit losses. We do not hold material amounts of the types of financial instruments impacted by this guidance on our balance sheet. The guidance also establishes a new impairment model for available-for-sale debt securities. The adoption did not have a material impact on our consolidated balance sheet or our consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive loss, changes in stockholders’ equity, and cash flows for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018.
We adopted ASU No. 2018-15, Intangibles—Goodwill and Other—Internal-Use Software (Subtopic 350-40): Customer’s Accounting for Implementation Costs Incurred in a Cloud Computing Arrangement That Is a Service Contract, effective January 1, 2020, electing a prospective adoption method. The new standard requires that certain implementation costs for cloud computing arrangements are capitalized and amortized over the term of associated hosted cloud computing arrangement service. Capitalized implementation costs are classified in prepaid expenses and other assets. The amortization of the capitalized asset is presented in the same line on the statement of operations and comprehensive loss as the fees for the associated hosted cloud computing arrangement service and not included with depreciation or amortization expense related to property and equipment or intangible assets. Cash flows related to capitalized implementation costs are presented in cash flows used in operating activities. The adoption did not have a material impact on our consolidated balance sheet or our consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive loss, changes in stockholders’ equity, and cash flows for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018.
We adopted ASU No. 2019-12, Income Taxes (Topic 740): Simplifying the Accounting for Income Taxes, as of January 1, 2020, which eliminates certain exceptions related to the general principles in ASC 740 and makes amendments to other areas with the intention of simplifying various aspects related to accounting for income taxes. The provisions of the ASU that are applicable to Atara are applied on a prospective basis. The adoption did not have a material impact on our consolidated balance sheet or our consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive loss, changes in stockholders’ equity, and cash flows for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018.
The entire disclosure for all significant accounting policies of the reporting entity.
Reference 1: http://fasb.org/us-gaap/role/ref/legacyRef