Yield on Debt Securities and Other Investment Instruments

Yield refers to the amount of money that owners receive in exchange for investing in some security. It is a set rate of return on insurance policies, fixed income securities, and stocks and bonds.

Investment Products that Offer Return

Individuals and companies invest in different products, including corporate, municipal, callable, and convertible bonds. They also invest in value, income, and growth stocks. The major types of stocks that people invest in include convertible, preferred, and common shares. Other investment-type instruments are insurance policies that have investment and insurance elements. They offer protection in the event of permanent or total disability and death of the policy holder. The yield or the amount paid to the beneficiaries varies depending on the insurer and the choice of sub-funds. There are high yield bond funds that promise a competitive and steady income and focus on non-investment grade bonds. In contrast to fixed income securities, they provide a significantly higher income and are used to diversify investment portfolios. High yield bonds are less sensitive to inflation and interest rate fluctuations but they come with low credit ratings. This means that they are in default, very speculative, or carry a high risk of default.

Rate of Return and Bonds and Notes

There are different types of yield, including current, nominal, and yield to maturity. YTM is the rate of return on debt securities provided that they are held until maturity. Different factors are taken into account, including maturity, coupon interest rate, par value, as well as market price. The current yield is a return on a bond, which is calculated by dividing the annual cash flow by the spot market price. While the YTM looks at factors such as face value and future cash inflows, the current yield takes only the current market price into account. For instance, if a bond is valued at $75.95 and the annual coupon is $4.50, the yield would be 5.92 percent ($4.50/$75.95 = 0.0592). If you bought a 5-year bond and plan to sell it after the first year, you will receive $4.50. However, the value of the bond also depends on interest rate fluctuations. The price may increase or decrease based on the current interest rate. If the price of the bond falls to $68.75, the capital loss will be $5.30 ($75.95 - $68.75 = $5.30), even though you’ve gained $4.50. There is also coupon or nominal yield which refers to the annual interest paid or the total of coupons. Basically, this is the coupon rate on a debt security. The nominal rate is not equal to the overall gains. The rate will be higher if you pay a premium, for example. Conversely, you will benefit from a higher rate if you pay a discount.

Factors that Affect the Rate of Return

There are a number of factors that play a role, among which interest rate, the state of the economy, the features of the bond issue, and the issuer (government or municipal authorities, corporations, etc.). Some factors also affect the spread, including the expected liquidity of the debt instrument, the tax on the interest received, provisions, and maturity or term of the security. In addition, investors look at the creditworthiness of issuers and the sectors in which they operate. Industry sectors have different reward and risk ratios. Investors also differentiate between intra-market and inter-market sector spreads. Other factors to take into account include credit and quality spread as well as credit and default risk. Default risk is risk that the issuing entity won’t be able to make principal and interest payments.

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