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Based on my studies and the relevant points from the CFA study material, I have complied some points related with the Features and Risks on Bonds Securities. Through this article, I just want to share this knowledge with all of you. I hope it will provide you some information about the Bonds while dealing practically as well as while preparing for any course or studies.


Fixed Income Security is a financial obligation of an entity that promises to pay a specified sum of money at specified future dates. The entity that promises to make the payment is called the issuer of the security. It falls under two general categories >

1) Debt Obligations Bonds, Mortgage-backed securities, Asset Backed Securities, Bank Loans.

2) Preferred Stock Represents ownership interest and has fixed dividends payment.

Features of Bonds

Indenture - The promises of the issuer and the rights of the bondholders are set forth in great detail in a bonds indenture.

Covenants - As part of the indenture, there are affirmative covenants and negative covenants.

1) Affirmative covenants set forth activities that the borrower promises to do.

2) Negative covenants set forth certain limitations and restrictions on the borrowers activities.

Maturity of a bond is the number of years the debt is outstanding or the number of years remaining prior to financial payment. It is important because

1) Indicates the time period over which the bondholder can expect to receive interest payment and principal at the end.

2) Yield offered on a bond depends on the term to maturity.

3) The price volatility of the bond is the function of maturity. The longer the maturity of the bond, the greater the price volatility resulting from a change in interest rates.

Par Value is the amount that the issuer agrees to repay the bondholder at or by the maturity date. When a bond trades below its par value, it is said to be trading at discount. When a bond trades above its par value, it is said to be trading at premium.

Coupon Rate, also called the nominal rate, is the interest rate that the issuer agrees to pay each year. The annual amount of the interest payment made to bondholders during the term of the bond is called the coupon. The coupon is determined by multiplying the coupon rate by the par value of the bond i.e. Coupon = Coupon Rate X par value.

The higher the coupon rate, the less the price will change in response to a change in market interest rates

Zero Coupon Bonds Bonds that are not contracted to make periodic coupon payments are called zero-coupon bonds. The holder of a zero-coupon bond realizes interest by buying the bond substantially below its par value. Interest is then paid at the maturity date, with the interest being the difference between the par value and the price paid for the bond.

Step-Up Notes Securities that have a coupon arte increases over time. These securities are called step-up notes because the coupon rate steps up over time. When there is only one change (or step up) the issue is referred to as a Single Step-up note. When there is more than one change the issue is referred to as a multiple step-up note.

Deferred Coupon Bonds Bonds whose interest payments are deferred for a specified number of years.

Floating-Rate Securities These securities have coupon payments that reset periodically according to some reference rate. Coupon Rate = Reference Rate + Quoted Margin

Maximum Coupon rate is called Cap. Minimum Coupon Rate is called a Floor.

Coupon rate increases when reference rate increases, and decreases when reference rate decreases.

Issues whose coupon rate moves in the opposite direction with the change in the reference rate. Such issues are called Inverse Floaters or Reverse Floaters. The coupon Formula is:

Coupon Rate = K L X (Reference Rate)

Accrued Interest It refers to the amount of interest that will be received by the buyer even though it was earned by the seller. The bond buyer must pay the bond seller the accrued interest.

The bond in which the buyer must pay the seller accrued interest is said to be trading cum-coupon.

If the buyer forgoes the next coupon payment, the bond is said to be trading ex-coupon.

Paying off provisions of bond When the issuer agrees to pay one lump sum payment at the maturity date, it is termed as Bullet Maturity.

1) Call & Refunding Provisions The right of the issuer to the stated maturity date is referred to as a Call provision. If the issuer exercises this right, the issuer is said to call the bond.

When the issuer exercises an option to call an issue, the call price can be either

i. Fixed regardless of the call date the call price is par plus accrued interest.

ii. Based on the price specified in the call schedule the call price depends on when the issuer calls the issue.

iii. Based on a mark-whole premium provision Provides a formula for determining the premium.

A non-callable issue prohibits the refunding of the bonds for a certain number of years or for the issues life.

Non-refundable Bonds prevents redemption from certain sources, namely the proceeds of other debt issues sold at a lower cost of money.

2) Sinking Fund Provision The indenture may require the issuer to retire a specified portion of the issue each year. This is referred to as a sinking fund requirement. If only a portion is paid, the remaining principal is called balloon maturity. Many times issuer has the option to retire more than the sinking fund requirement. This referred to as an accelerated sinking fund provision.

Conversion Privilege The issue grants the bondholder the right to convert the bond for a specified number of shares of common stock. It allows the bondholder to take advantage of favorable movements in the price of the issuers common stock.

Put Provision It grants the bondholder the right to sell the issue back to the issuer at a specified price on designated dates.

Currency Denominations There are some issues whose coupon payments are in one currency and whose principal payment is in another currency. An issue with this characteristic is called a dual-currency issue.

Embedded Options The provision that gives the issuer or the bondholder an option to take some action against the other party are referred to as embedded options, because the option is embedded in the issue.

Embedded Options granted to issuers.

i. Right to call the issue.

ii. Right to prepay principal

iii. The accelerated sinking fund provision

iv. The cap on a floater.

Embedded Options granted to the Bondholder

i. Conversion Privilege

ii. Right to put the issue

iii. Floor on a floater

Borrowing Funds to Purchase Bonds

1) Margin Buying In this the broker provides the funds borrowed to buy the securities and in turn the broker gets the money from a bank. The interest rates banks charge from brokers for these transactions is called the call money rate. The broker charges the investor the call money rate plus a service charge.

2) Repurchase Agreement It is a sale of security with a commitment by the seller to buy the same security back from the purchaser at a specified price at a designated future date.

Risk Associated with investing in Bonds

Interest Rate Risk Change in interest rate over the period of maturity is referred to as Interest rate risk.

When interest rate rise, a bonds price falls, when interest rates fall, a bonds price will rise.

Reasons for inverse relationship >

1) A bond will trade at a price equal to par when the coupon rate is equal to the yield required by market

Coupon Rate = Yield Required by Market Price = Par Value

2) A bond will trade at a price below par (sell at a discount) or above par (sell at a premium) if the coupon rate is different from the yield required by the market. Specifically,

Coupon rate < Yield required by market Price < Par Value (Discount)

Coupon rate > Yield required by market Price > Par Value (Premium)

3) The price of a bond changes in the opposite direction to the change in interest rates. So, for an instantaneous change in interest rates the following relationship holds:

><If interest rates increase Price of the bond decreases

If interest rates decreases Price of the bond increases

Bond Features that effect interest rates

1) Impact of Maturity > All others factors constant, the longer the bonds maturity, the greater the bonds price sensitivity to changes in interest rates.

2) Impact of Coupon rate > The lower the coupon rate, the greater the bonds price sensitivity to change in interest rates.

3) Impact of Embedded Options > For this, let us decompose the price of the callable bond in:-

Price of Callable Bond = Price of option-free bond Price of embedded call option.

When interest rate decline both price components increase in value, but the change in the price of the callable bond depends on the relative price change between the two components.

Therefore, a decline in interest rates will result in an increase in the price of the callable bond but not by as much as the price changes of an otherwise comparable option free bond.

4) Impact of the yield level > Higher a bonds yield, the lower the price sensitivity.

Price sensitivity is lower when the level of interest rate in the market is high, and the sensitivity is higher when the level of interest rate is low.

5) Floating rate Securities > The price of the floating rate security will fluctuate depending on three factors>

a. The longer the time to the next coupon reset date, the greater the potential price fluctuation.

b. The required margin that investors demand in the market changes.

c. It will typically have a cap. Once the cap is reached, the securities price will react mush the same way to changes in market interest rates as that of a fixed-rate coupon security. It is termed as Cap risk of the floating rate security.

Measuring interest rate risk

Approximate percentage Price changes for a 100 basis point change in yield is:

Duration = Price of Years decline Price if yields rise .

2 X (Initial Price) X (Change in yield in decimal)

The approximate dollar price change for a 100 basis point change in yield is sometimes referred to as the dollar duration.

Yield Curve Risk

The graphical depiction of relationship between yield and maturity is called the yield curve. When interest rate changes they do not change by an equal number of basis points for all maturities. The portfolios have different exposures to how the yield curve shifts. This risk exposure is called yield curve risk.

Call and Prepayment Risk > From investors perspective, there are 3 disadvantages to call provisions>

1) The cash flow pattern of a callable bond is not known with certainty

2) Because the issuer is likely to call the bonds when interest rates have declined below the bonds coupon rate, the investor is exposed to reinvestment risk.

3) The price appreciation potential of the bond will be reduced.

The same disadvantages apply to mortgage backed and asset backed securities where it is termed as prepayment risk.

Reinvestment risk > is the risk that the proceeds received from the payment of interest and principal that are available for reinvestment must be reinvested at a lower interest rate than the security that generated the proceeds. While dealing with amortizing securities (i.e. securities that repay principal periodically), reinvestment risk is greater. In Zero-coupon Bonds there is no reinvestment risk, because there is no coupon payments to reinvest.

Credit Risk > An investor who lends fund by purchasing a bond issue is exposed to credit risk. There are 3 types of credit risk >

1) Default Risk > It is defined as the risk that the issuer will fail to satisfy the terms of the obligation with respect to the timely payment of interest and principal.

2) Credit Spread Risk > The risk premium on a bond is referred to as Yield Spread. The part of the risk premium or yield spread attributable to default risk is called credit spread. If the credit spread increases, investors say that the spread has widened and the market price of the bond issue will decline. The risk that the issuers debt obligation will decline due to an increase in the credit spread is called credit spread risk.

3) Downgrade Risk > There are 3 rating agencies in US > Moodys Investors Service Inc., Standard & Poors Corporation, and Fitch ratings. Bond issues that are assigned a rating in the top four categories are referred to as investment-grade bonds. An unanticipated downgrading of an issue or issuer increases the credit spread and results in a decline in the price of the issue or the issuers bonds. This risk is referred to as a downgrade risk and is closely related to credit spread risk.

Liquidity risk > is the risk that the investors will have to sell a bond below its indicated value, where the indication is revealed by a recent transaction. The wider the bid-ask spread the greater the liquidity risk.

Exchange rate or currency risk > The risk of receiving less of the domestic currency when investing in a bond issue that makes payments in a currency other than managers domestic currency is called exchange rate risk or currency risk.

Inflation or purchasing power risk > arises from the decline in the value of a securitys cash flow due to inflation, which is measured in terms of purchasing power.

Volatility risk > The greater the expected yield volatility, the greater the value of an option. The risk that the price of a bond with an embedded option will decline when expected yield volatility changes is called volatility risk.

Price of Callable Bond = Price of option-free bond Price of embedded call option

Price of Putable Bond = Price of option-free bond + Price of embedded call option

Event Risk > Risk caused by natural disaster, takeover or corporate restructuring, or regulatory change.

Sovereign Risk > When an investor acquires a bond issued by a foreign entity, the investor faces sovereign risk. This is the risk, that as a result of the actions of the foreign government, there may be either a default or an adverse price change even in the absence of a default.

Published by

Rahul Gupta
(Project Controller, ACA, MBA(Fin.))
Category Shares & Stock   Report

  58 Shares   17301 Views


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