Note 1 — Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
Nature of Business — Abbott’s principal business is the discovery, development, manufacture and sale of a broad line of health care products.
Concentration of Risk and Guarantees — Due to the nature of its operations, Abbott is not subject to significant concentration risks relating to customers, products or geographic locations, except that three U.S. wholesalers accounted for 23 percent of trade receivables as of December 31, 2010 and 2009, and 27 percent of trade receivables as of December 31, 2008. Product warranties are not significant.
Abbott has no material exposures to off-balance sheet arrangements; no special purpose entities; nor activities that include non-exchange-traded contracts accounted for at fair value. Abbott has periodically entered into agreements in the ordinary course of business, such as assignment of product rights, with other companies which has resulted in Abbott becoming secondarily liable for obligations that Abbott was previously primarily liable. Since Abbott no longer maintains a business relationship with the other parties, Abbott is unable to develop an estimate of the maximum potential amount of future payments, if any, under these obligations. Based upon past experience, the likelihood of payments under these agreements is remote. Abbott periodically acquires a business or product rights in which Abbott agrees to pay contingent consideration based on attaining certain thresholds or based on the occurrence of certain events.
Basis of Consolidation — The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of the parent company and subsidiaries, after elimination of intercompany transactions. The accounts of foreign subsidiaries are consolidated as of November 30, due to the time needed to consolidate these subsidiaries. In December 2009, a foreign subsidiary acquired certain technology that was accounted for as acquired in-process research and development. This transaction was recorded in 2009 due to the significance of the amount. No other events occurred related to these foreign subsidiaries in December 2010, 2009 and 2008 that materially affected the financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
Effective January 1, 2009, Abbott adopted SFAS No. 160, “Noncontrolling Interests in Consolidated Financial Statements— an amendment of ARB No. 51,” as codified in FASB ASC No. 810, “Consolidation” and accordingly, noncontrolling interests in subsidiaries are presented as a component of total equity as of December 31, 2010, 2009 and 2008.
Use of Estimates — The financial statements have been prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States and necessarily include amounts based on estimates and assumptions by management. Actual results could differ from those amounts. Significant estimates include amounts for sales rebates, income taxes, pension and other post-employment benefits, valuation of intangible assets, litigation, share-based compensation, derivative financial instruments, and inventory and accounts receivable exposures.
Revenue Recognition — Revenue from product sales is recognized upon passage of title and risk of loss to customers. Provisions for discounts, rebates and sales incentives to customers, and returns and other adjustments are provided for in the period the related sales are recorded. Sales incentives to customers are not material. Historical data is readily available and reliable, and is used for estimating the amount of the reduction in gross sales. Revenue from the launch of a new product, from an improved version of an existing product, or for shipments in excess of a customer’s normal requirements are recorded when the conditions noted above are met. In those situations, management records a returns reserve for such revenue, if necessary. Sales of product rights for marketable products are recorded as revenue upon disposition of the rights. Revenue from license of product rights, or for performance of research or selling activities, is recorded over the periods earned.
Income Taxes — Deferred income taxes are provided for the tax effect of differences between the tax bases of assets and liabilities and their reported amounts in the financial statements at the enacted statutory rate to be in effect when the taxes are paid. U.S. income taxes are provided on those earnings of foreign subsidiaries which are intended to be remitted to the parent company. Deferred income taxes are not provided on undistributed earnings reinvested indefinitely in foreign subsidiaries as working capital and plant and equipment. Interest and penalties on income tax obligations are included in taxes on income.
Earnings Per Share — Effective January 1, 2009, Abbott adopted FSP EITF 03-6-1, “Determining Whether Instruments Granted in Share-Based Payment Transactions Are Participating Securities,” as codified in FASB ASC No. 260, “Earnings Per Share,” which requires that unvested restricted stock units and awards that contain non-forfeitable rights to dividends be treated as participating securities and be included in the computation of earnings per share under the two-class method. Under the two-class method, net earnings are allocated between common shares and participating securities. Net earnings allocated to common shares in 2010 and 2009 were $4.613 billion and $5.733 billion, respectively. Net earnings allocated to common shares in 2008 were not significantly different than net earnings.
Pension and Post-Employment Benefits — Abbott accrues for the actuarially determined cost of pension and post-employment benefits over the service attribution periods of the employees. Abbott must develop long-term assumptions, the most significant of which are the health care cost trend rates, discount rates and the expected return on plan assets. Differences between the expected long-term return on plan assets and the actual return are amortized over a five-year period. Actuarial losses and gains are amortized over the remaining service attribution periods of the employees under the corridor method.
Fair Value Measurements — For assets and liabilities that are measured using quoted prices in active markets, total fair value is the published market price per unit multiplied by the number of units held without consideration of transaction costs. Assets and liabilities that are measured using significant other observable inputs are valued by reference to similar assets or liabilities, adjusted for contract restrictions and other terms specific to that asset or liability. For these items, a significant portion of fair value is derived by reference to quoted prices of similar assets or liabilities in active markets. For all remaining assets and liabilities, fair value is derived using a fair value model, such as a discounted cash flow model or Black-Scholes model. Purchased intangible assets are recorded at fair value. The fair value of significant purchased intangible assets is based on independent appraisals. Abbott uses a discounted cash flow model to value intangible assets. The discounted cash flow model requires assumptions about the timing and amount of future net cash flows, risk, the cost of capital, terminal values and market participants. Intangible assets, and goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets are reviewed for impairment at least on a quarterly and annual basis, respectively.
Share-Based Compensation — The value of stock options and restricted stock awards and units are amortized over their service period, which could be shorter than the vesting period if an employee is retirement eligible, with a charge to compensation expense.
Litigation — Abbott accounts for litigation losses in accordance with FASB ASC No. 450, “Contingencies.” Under ASC No. 450, loss contingency provisions are recorded for probable losses at management’s best estimate of a loss, or when a best estimate cannot be made, a minimum loss contingency amount is recorded.
Cash, Cash Equivalents and Investments — Cash equivalents consist of time deposits and certificates of deposit with original maturities of three months or less. Investments in marketable equity securities are classified as available-for-sale and are recorded at fair value with any unrealized holding gains or losses, net of tax, included in Accumulated other comprehensive income (loss). Investments in equity securities that are not traded on public stock exchanges are recorded at cost. Investments in debt securities are classified as held-to-maturity, as management has both the intent and ability to hold these securities to maturity, and are reported at cost, net of any unamortized premium or discount. Income relating to these securities is reported as interest income.
Abbott reviews the carrying value of investments each quarter to determine whether an other than temporary decline in market value exists. Abbott considers factors affecting the investee, factors affecting the industry the investee operates in and general equity market trends. Abbott considers the length of time an investment’s market value has been below carrying value and the near-term prospects for recovery to carrying value. When Abbott determines that an other than temporary decline has occurred, the investment is written down with a charge to Other (income) expense, net.
Trade Receivable Valuations — Accounts receivable are stated at their net realizable value. The allowance against gross trade receivables reflects the best estimate of probable losses inherent in the receivables portfolio determined on the basis of historical experience, specific allowances for known troubled accounts and other currently available information.
Inventories — Inventories are stated at the lower of cost (first-in, first-out basis) or market. Cost includes material and conversion costs.
Property and Equipment — Depreciation and amortization are provided on a straight-line basis over the estimated useful lives of the assets. The following table shows estimated useful lives of property and equipment:
|Classification||Estimated Useful Lives|
|Buildings||10 to 50 years (average 27 years)|
|Equipment||3 to 20 years (average 11 years)|
Product Liability — Abbott accrues for product liability claims, on an undiscounted basis, when it is probable that a liability has been incurred and the amount of the liability can be reasonably estimated based on existing information. The liabilities are adjusted quarterly as additional information becomes available. Receivables for insurance recoveries for product liability claims are recorded as assets, on an undiscounted basis, when it is probable that a recovery will be realized. Prior to 2009, Abbott carried third-party insurance coverage in amounts that reflect historical loss experience, which did not include coverage for sizable losses. Beginning in 2009, product liability losses are self-insured.
Research and Development Costs — Internal research and development costs are expensed as incurred. Clinical trial costs incurred by third parties are expensed as the contracted work is performed. Where contingent milestone payments are due to third parties under research and development arrangements, the milestone payment obligations are expensed when the milestone results are achieved.