37. Critical accounting estimates and judgments
In the application of the accounting policies, the Group is required to make judgments, estimates and assumptions about the carrying amounts of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. The estimates and associated assumptions are based on historical experience and other factors that are considered to be relevant. Actual results may differ from these estimates.
The Group’s estimates and assumptions are reviewed on an ongoing basis. Revisions to accounting estimates are recognized in the period in which the estimate is revised if the revision affects only that period or in the period of the revisions and future periods if the revision affects both current and future periods.
Drafting financial statements in accordance with IFRS requires management to make judgments and estimates and to use assumptions that influence the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, the notes on contingent assets and liabilities on the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of income and expenses during the reporting period. Actual results may differ from these estimates.
The following are the Group’s critical judgments and estimates that the Group has made in the process of applying the accounting policies and that have the most significant effect on the amounts recognized in the consolidated financial statements presented elsewhere in this annual report.
Recognition of clinical trial expenses
The Group recognizes expenses incurred in carrying out clinical trials during the course of each clinical trial in line with the state of completion of each trial. This involves the calculation of clinical trial accruals at each period end to account for incurred expenses. This requires estimation of the expected full cost to complete the trial as well as the current stage of trial completion.
Clinical trials usually take place over extended time periods and typically involve a set-up phase, a recruitment phase and a completion phase which ends upon the receipt of a final report containing full statistical analysis of trial results. Accruals are prepared separately for each clinical trial in progress and take into consideration the stage of completion of each trial including the number of patients that have entered the trial and whether the final report has been received. In all cases, the full cost of each trial is expensed by the time the final report is received. There have not been any material adjustments to estimates based on the actual costs incurred for each period presented.
Evaluating the criteria for revenue recognition with respect to the Group’s research and development and collaboration agreements requires management’s judgment to ensure that all criteria have been fulfilled prior to recognizing any amount of revenue. In particular, such judgments are made with respect to determination of the nature of transactions, whether simultaneous transactions shall be considered as one or more revenue-generating transactions, allocation of the contractual price (upfront and milestone payments in connection with a collaboration agreement) to several elements included in an agreement, and the determination of whether the significant risks and rewards have been transferred to the buyer. Collaboration agreements are reviewed carefully to understand the nature of risks and rewards of the arrangement. All of the Group’s revenue-generating transactions have been subject to such evaluation by management.
Share-based payments plans
The Group determines the costs of the share-based payments plans (warrant plans) on the basis of the fair value of the equity instrument at grant date. Determining the fair value assumes choosing the most suitable valuation model for these equity instruments, by which the characteristics of the grant have a decisive influence. This assumes also the input into the valuation model of some relevant judgments, like the estimated expected life of the warrant and the volatility. The judgments made and the model used are further specified in note 32.
The cost of a defined pension arrangement is determined based on actuarial valuations. An actuarial valuation assumes the estimation of discount rates, estimated returns on assets, future salary increases, mortality figures and future pension increases. Because of the long term nature of these pension plans, the valuation of these is subject to important uncertainties. See note 31 for additional details.
Impairment of goodwill
Changes in management assumptions on profit margin and growth rates used for cash flow predictions could have an important impact on the results of the Group. Determining whether goodwill is impaired requires an estimation of the value in use of the cash generating units to which the goodwill has been allocated. The value in use calculation requires the entity to estimate the future cash flows expected to arise from the cash generating unit and a suitable discount rate in order to calculate present value. Considering that the consideration received for the sale of the service division is much higher than its net assets value, such estimation of the value in use is no longer necessary at the end of 2013.
Corporate income taxes
Significant judgment is required in determining the use of tax loss carry forwards. Deferred tax assets arising from unused tax losses or tax credits are only recognized to the extent that there are sufficient taxable temporary differences or there is convincing evidence that sufficient taxable profit will be available against which the unused tax losses or unused tax credits can be utilized. Management’s judgment is that such convincing evidence is currently not sufficiently available except for one subsidiary operating intercompany on a cost plus basis and as such only a minor deferred tax asset is therefore recognized. As of 31 December 2014, the Group had a total of approximately €220 million of statutory tax losses carried forward which can be compensated with future taxable statutory profits for an indefinite period except for an amount of €18 million in Switzerland, Croatia, the United States and The Netherlands with expiry date between 2015 and 2029. As of 31 December 2014, the available tax losses carried forward in Belgium amounted to €136 million.