Beyond Yield: What You Need To Know About Reading A Bond Table

bond table
A bond table is a list of bonds along with trade related information on the bonds listed including:

Issuer

The company, government or government entity that is issuing the bond.  The table may also list the specific symbol or letters such as CPX.GB that identify the particular bond.

 Interest rate

Expressed as a number with fractions – for example, 9 1/4% (the equivalent of 9.25% in decimals).

 

Maturity date

Indicated as month date/year, for example Jul 01/20 – this would mean that the bond concerned will mature on July 1st, 2020 (only the last two digits of the year are given).

 

“Bid” Price

What someone is willing to pay for the bond today. It is given as a multiplier of its issue price, expressed as a number with fractions (1/32). For example, a bid price of 120 16/32, also written sometimes as 120:16  (which would correspond to 120.50 in decimals) indicates that the price is now a little over 20% more than its issue price.

 

“Ask” Price

What someone is willing to sell the bond for. There will be a difference, usually small, between bid and ask prices.

 

Change in Price

May be indicated in a separate column. No entry in this column simply means the bond’s price did not change from the previous trading day. Some tables may also list “high”, “low” and “last” prices, referring to the previous trading period.

 

Yield to maturity

An interest rate giving an overall indication of the bond’s investment value. It uses the current price of a bond, not the face value. For that reason, you can expect to see a yield to maturity that is less than the coupon rate if the bond price has gone up since its issue (the fixed interest payments are a smaller part of the new, higher price), and vice versa.  For a detailed explanation of Yield to Maturity go here.

 

Yield to Worst

An interest rate giving an overall indication of the bonds investment value, assuming the bond is paid back before maturity.  An example would be a bond with a call option. In this case the Yield to worst would be the yield, assuming the bond was called at the first call date.

 

Trading volume

A figure of 24 in the “Vol” column might indicate that the volume of that bond traded on the exchange during the preceding day was $24,000.

 

Callable Bonds

Indicated with the letter c and two numbers next to the yield to maturity, for example “c15”: this would indicate the bond concerned could be called as early as 2015. Already called bonds may be indicated with the letters “cld”. Matured bonds may be indicated with the letter “m”.

 

Rating

The bond’s credit rating, which is an indication of the likelyhood the bond will default.

Any particular abbreviations being used are often summarized in a footnote or another area of the bond table.  It is important to keep in mind that because there are millions of different bonds in existence at any one time and many of them are held without being traded, bond tables only list a small fraction using information about bonds that trade on a given day.

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