Contributed by: Nicholas Boguth
This time around in our “Investor Basics” series, we’re going to take a look at the most common bond features. For a dive into a more complex bond pricing topic, check out our Director of Investment’s Investor Ph. D blog on why buying premium bonds can make sense.
First off, what is an embedded bond feature?
An embedded bond feature is a provision attached to a bond that changes its maturity, risk, or liquidity. A bond issuer may release a bond with an embedded feature in order to make it more attractive to a bond buyer, or to give itself a more favorable debt structure. The most common types of embedded features that you may have seen in the market, and that I will briefly go over in this blog, are call, put, and conversions.
Call features give the issuer of the bond the right to “call” the bond back from the bondholder at a specific date. This provision benefits the issuer because they are able to buy back debt, and then issue new debt at a lower interest rate. A company will typically issue a callable bond when they believe that interest rates will decrease in the future. Since this feature benefits the issuer, the company will have to make the yield or maturity more attractive to entice a buyer.
Put features give the bondholder the right to “put” the bond back to the issuer at a specific date before it matures. This provision benefits the bondholder because it allows him or her to put the bond back to the issuer (maybe interest rates have risen or the company’s credit is deteriorating). Since this option benefits the bondholder, he or she may have to accept a lower yield or longer maturity on the bond.
Another common embedded bond feature is the conversion option. This actually lets the bondholder convert the bond into shares of the company’s stock at a predetermined price and date. A company may issue convertible bonds as a way to issue cheap debt (they may not have to pay as large of a coupon because they are giving the bondholder the option to convert their bond to stock).
Each of these bond features may have a place in an investor’s portfolio, but knowing when and how to include them can be complex and differs from investor to investor. If you have any questions on these bond topics or any others, feel free to reach out to us at any time!
Nicholas Boguth is an Investment Research Associate at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® and an Investment Representative with Raymond James Financial Services.
The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Every investor’s situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected. Investments mentioned may not be suitable for all investors. There is an inverse relationship between interest rate movements and fixed income prices. Generally, when interest rates rise, fixed income prices fall and when interest rates fall, fixed income prices generally rise.