SEC Filings

INTUITIVE SURGICAL INC filed this Form 10-K on 02/02/2018
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We use implied volatility based on freely traded options in the open market, as we believe implied volatility is more reflective of market conditions and a better indicator of expected volatility than historical volatility. In determining the appropriateness of relying on implied volatility, we considered the following:
the sufficiency of the trading volume of freely traded options;
the ability to reasonably match the terms, such as the date of the grant and the exercise price of the freely traded options to options granted; and
the length of the term of the freely traded options used to derive implied volatility.
The expected term represents the weighted-average period that our stock options are expected to be outstanding. The expected term is based on the observed and expected time to exercise. We determine expected term based on historical exercise patterns and our expectation of the time it will take for employees to exercise options still outstanding.
We develop an estimate of the number of share-based awards that will be forfeited due to employee turnover. Adjustments in the estimated forfeiture rates can have a significant effect on our reported share-based compensation, as we recognize the cumulative effect of the rate adjustments for all expense amortization in the period the estimated forfeiture rates were adjusted. We estimate and adjust forfeiture rates based on a periodic review of recent forfeiture activity and expected future employee turnover. If a revised forfeiture rate is higher than previously estimated forfeiture rate, we may make an adjustment that will result in a decrease to the expense recognized in the financial statements during the period when the rate was changed. Adjustments in the estimated forfeiture rates could also cause changes in the amount of expense that we recognize in future periods.
Changes in these subjective assumptions can materially affect the estimate of fair value of stock options and, consequently, the related amount of share-based compensation expense recognized on the Consolidated Statements of Income.
Accounting for income taxes. Significant management judgment is required in determining our provision for income taxes, deferred tax assets and liabilities and any valuation allowance recorded against net deferred tax assets in accordance with U.S. GAAP. These estimates and judgments occur in the calculation of tax credits, benefits, and deductions, and in the calculation of certain tax assets and liabilities, which arise from differences in the timing of recognition of revenue and expense for tax and financial statement purposes, as well as the interest and penalties related to uncertain tax positions. Significant changes to these estimates may result in an increase or decrease to our tax provision in the current or subsequent period.
We must assess the likelihood that we will be able to recover our deferred tax assets. If recovery is less than a 50% likelihood, we must increase our provision for taxes by recording a valuation allowance to reduce our deferred tax assets to the amount that is more likely than not to be recoverable. As of December 31, 2017, we believe it is more likely than not that our deferred tax assets ultimately will be recovered with the exception of our California deferred tax assets. We believe that due to the computation of California taxes under the single sales factor, it is more likely than not that our California deferred tax assets will not be realized. Should there be a change in our ability to recover our deferred tax assets, our tax provision would be affected in the period in which such change takes place.
The calculation of our tax liabilities involves dealing with uncertainties in the application of complex tax regulations. We recognize liabilities for uncertain tax positions based on a two-step process. The first step is to evaluate the tax position for recognition by determining if the weight of available evidence indicates that it is more likely than not that the position will be sustained on audit, including resolution of related appeals or litigation processes, if any. If we determine that a tax position will more likely than not be sustained on audit, then the second step requires us to estimate and measure the tax benefit as the largest amount that is more than 50% likely to be realized upon ultimate settlement. It is inherently difficult and subjective to estimate such amounts, as we have to determine the probability of various possible outcomes. We re-evaluate these uncertain tax positions on a quarterly basis. This evaluation is based on factors including, but not limited to, changes in facts or circumstances, changes in tax law, effective settlement of audit issues, and new audit activity. Such a change in recognition or measurement would result in the recognition of a tax benefit or an additional charge to the tax provision.
Accounting for legal contingencies. We are involved in a number of legal proceedings involving product liability, intellectual property, shareholder derivative actions, securities class actions, insurance, employee related, and other matters. We record a liability and related charge to earnings in our consolidated financial statements for legal contingencies when the loss is considered probable and the amount can be reasonably estimated. Our assessment is reevaluated each accounting period and is based on all available information, including discussion with any outside legal counsel that represents us. If a reasonable estimate of a known or probable loss cannot be made, but a range of probable losses can be estimated, the low-end of the range of losses is recognized if no amount within the range is a better estimate than any other. If a loss is reasonably possible, but not probable and can be reasonably estimated, the estimated loss or range of loss is disclosed in the notes to the consolidated financial statements.


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