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What is backtesting?

Analytical financial theories and trading strategies can be “backtested” by applying them to historical data. Backtesting is to simulate what it would have been like to use a certain strategy or indicator in the past. Because markets are more complicated than a simple algorithm, such as an assumed future rate of return, it is preferable and somewhat more dramatic to use actual historical data for testing. There is an abundance of historical market data available to those who would like to use it for backtesting a theory, strategy, or indicator. Continue reading...

What is Real Rate of Return?

Real rate of return is a notion that takes factors such as inflation and taxation into account before reporting a realized rate of interest on an investment. Economic theorist Irving Fisher first popularized the idea that there is a difference between a nominal interest rate and a real interest rate. Consider a bond that pays a steady coupon rate of 2% for the next 10 years. If inflation is more than 2%, the real rate of return on that investment is negative. If the investor got taxed on the nominal gains, the real rate of return is pushed further into negative territory. Continue reading...

What is Required Rate of Return?

Required Rate of Return is the return that investors will expect to earn on their money, given the risk and costs involved. Required Rate of Return is determined by the market for a particular security or asset at a given time. Issuers of fixed or variable coupon bonds must look at the rates offered by their peer institutions with similar credit ratings. Investors will require a certain rate of return if they are going to invest their money, and this is where the RRR gets its name. The calculations which help an issuer to arrive at the RRR will include the current risk-free rate (10 year treasury bond rate), liquidity, inflation, and so on. Continue reading...

What is the ‘Risk-Free Rate of Return’?

The risk-free rate of return is the rate an investor can get on a risk-free asset at a given time. It is usually the current yield on a 10-year treasury, which is backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government and is considered risk-free. The risk-free rate is used in several calculations and considerations in finance, to show what return can be earned in the current market environment without being exposed to any risk. Continue reading...

What is a Fixed Annuity?

Fixed annuities, generally speaking, are annuity products that give the purchaser of the annuity the guarantee of fixed income payments for life. Annuities must come with the option to be paid out in equal payments either over a certain number of years or the lifetime(s) of the annuitant(s). This is the case for variable and fixed annuities, and these payments will be fixed and guaranteed. Where they differ is how they are invested before any annuitization takes place. Continue reading...

What is the “Riskless” (or Risk-Free) Rate of Return?

For comparisons of the risk/return ratio of an investment, one must start with a benchmark of a risk-free rate of return in the current market. Since U.S. Treasury bills are backed by the full faith, credit, and taxing power of the U.S. Government, they are considered “riskless,” or as close to riskless as we can get. The current yield on a 10-year Treasury note is generally considered the risk-free rate of return. Continue reading...

How fast should my portfolio grow?

The assumed rate of return on an investment is an important consideration, especially since assuming a rate of return that is too high might cause the individual to under-invest. You should understand the difference between an assumed rate of return that is optimal and one that is going to give you the highest probability of reaching your goals. In a perfect world, your portfolio would average 15-20% per year, forever, but this is really not feasible. Continue reading...

What is Future Value?

Future Value is the hypothetical value of an investment at a specific date in the future. The future value (FV) of an investment or business is a calculation used in several types of planning and accounting. In a Time Value of Money (TVM) calculation, the Future Value is often the starting point, and the interest rate that will be earned in the meantime is called Discount Rate, and is discounted by the number of years of periods back to the present time. This allows investors to see the Present Value (PV), which is a lesser, discounted amount from the future value, and gives us the premise for the Time Value of Money, which is that “a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.” Continue reading...

What is Total Return?

Total Return is the measure of all appreciation and interest as well as dividends and other distributions from an investment. Often computations of return will only consider appreciation, and it can be an easy mistake to make when looking at performance data at times. When a stock pays significant and consistent dividends, it needs to be factored in to the computation of total return. This adds a significant compounding effect to the investment’s overall performance, but if you just looked at the sheets that said it had a 4% return and a 2% dividend yield, you would be missing the most important part. Total return can be calculated for different kinds of investments or an entire portfolio, and is often done on an annual basis once all distributions have been made. Continue reading...

What is Return on Sales?

Also called net operating margin, return on sales can indicate how well a company makes use of its sales revenue. By dividing Operating Profit by Net Sales, we can arrive at the Return on Sales. Essentially what we’ve done is broken down profits on a per sales basis. We can see what percentage of sales ends up as profit, or, on the other side of the coin, how much profit is generated per unit of sales. This can be useful for a comparison of companies of different sizes, because it excludes their assets, capital structures, taxes, and interest. Continue reading...

What is the Black-Scholes formula?

The Black-Scholes formula is a formula and market model for explaining or determining the price of European-style options. It was developed in 1973 by two world-renowned economists, Fischer Black and Myron Scholes, and it led to a Nobel Prize in 1997. As opposed to the American-style of options, which can be exercised at any time, European-style options can only be exercised on their expiration date, they are not exposed to dividends, and they have no commission structure to consider. Some are content to use Black-Scholes for quick applications to American-style, but It is not as accurate as it should be. Continue reading...

What is market risk?

Market risk is the chance that an investment will not maintain its value when it is dependent on the many factors that influence the health of the economy and the stock market. Investors must be aware that investing money in a stock or mutual fund is to tie the fate of that money to the fate of the company or companies that they have invested in. The other side of the coin, of course, is the potential for gains. The potential gains of an investment are the premium that is paid to an investor in exchange for allowing a company or mutual fund to take risks with the investor’s money. Continue reading...

What is Return on Equity?

Return on Equity refers to the return on shareholder’s equity, which is like looking at the compounding effects of profits. Shareholder’s equity, in the standard accounting equation, is the amount of assets and retained earnings in a company over and above the company’s liabilities. Return on Equity is a ratio which divides the net income of a company by the total shareholder’s equity in a company, which is effectively looking at the profitability of the profits of a company. Continue reading...

AAA/Aaa — credit rating

AAA — S&P / Fitch Aaa — Moody’s AAA/Aaa rated bond issues have an almost nonexistent chance of defaulting, according to the major ratings institutions that issue the ratings. AAA/Aaa is the highest rating a bond issue or company can get. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and recession, many companies, and the US Government itself, were downgraded from AAA to AA+. Only two companies in the US still retain the AAA rating: Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft. Continue reading...

What is an Interest Rate?

An interest rate is a simple financial principle that’s been around for centuries, whereby a borrower has to pay for money borrowed. The interest rate is agreed to between the lender and the borrower, and there may be provisions under which the rate could change over the course of  a loan. In simple terms, an interest rate is the cost of money. Continue reading...

What is a Rate Swap?

A rate swap is the exchange of cash flows on underlying principals which are not exchanged. It is an over-the-counter contract between two institutions to trade the cash flows on two comparable principal amounts, but not to exchange the actual principal amounts. Institutions might prefer this arrangement because they only have access to floating interest rates or are overweight in them and would prefer to have some fixed rate interest cash flow, or vice versa. These swaps might occur between banks on opposite sides of the world to take advantage of rates elsewhere or to simply diversify their risks. Continue reading...

What is Accrual Rate?

This term might apply to bonds or pensions and other financial instruments which build up interest value which is paid out at a later time. Accrual Rate is the rate at which a nominal interest rate is credited to an account that will be paid out at a later time. A bond sold in the secondary market, for instance, will take the accrual rate into account if the sale takes place in between coupon payments. Continue reading...

What is a Run Rate?

Run rate is a term that can be applied to a certain type of accounting and management estimation or to the depletion of equity options. The first kind is when a current metric (such as sales revenue for a quarter) is assumed to extend out to the end of the year or accounting period for estimation or valuation purposes. The second kind uses the average dilution from the past three years, generally, to show the effect that convertible securities are having on the share price of a company. Continue reading...

What are Bond Ratings?

The possibility of a company or municipal government defaulting on their bond obligations, usually by going bankrupt, is a real one. For this reason, all bonds are rated according to the financial stability of the issuer. A look at the history of corporate and municipal debt will illuminate the fact that the possibility of the issuer being unable to pay its obligations to bondholders is a very real one. There is an established system of bond ratings that gives a rough estimate of the bond's reliability. Continue reading...

What is Return on Investment?

Return on Investment (ROI) is a ratio used to compare the net income of a project or investment to the amount invested. Return on Investment is a ratio that can be applied in many contexts, and this makes it a very popular way to compare the cost and benefits of many types of investments, for individuals or businesses. It is often interpreted as a percentage, to express the total gain over and above the amount invested as a percentage of the original amount. Continue reading...

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