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What is Yield?

Yield is a term which describes the cash return on a security investment, and does not include appreciation. Yield is the cash paid out of an investment in the form of dividends and interest received. The term does not encompass the appreciation of the investment, and it may be evaluated in different ways for different types of investments, so comparisons of yield across asset types is not standardized or recommended. Continue reading...

What are Current Yields?

The current yield on a bond takes into account its annual interest payment but also the price at which it can be sold. The yield on a bond held to maturity is fairly straightforward. However, if the bond you are holding is trading at a price higher or lower than where you purchased it, the current yield would be different than the yield to maturity. For example, if you purchased a 5% bond at a price of $100, but the current market price was $90, your current yield would be significantly lower than 5%. To calculate, simply divide annual cash inflows by market price. Continue reading...

What is Annual Percentage Yield (APY)?

APY is an annualization of an interest rate which may be assessed on a different schedule, such as on a monthly basis, and is useful for comparing debt and loan agreements that use different schedules. Annual Percentage Yield is a way to compare products and loans with different interest rates and different schedules for calculating the interest. It is a calculation of the effective annual rate, and it takes into account the effects of compounding interest, which a similar calculation for APR (Annual Percentage Rate) does not do. Continue reading...

What is a Yield Curve?

A yield curve is an illustration of the current duration-to-yield relationship for bonds of the same credit rating but different durations. As a general rule, the longer the duration of the loan, the more risk you take on (since you don't know what might happen with that corporation in the future), and therefore, you demand a higher reward (i.e., higher coupon). The yield curve for any bond (not just the US Treasury Bonds) changes daily based on many economic and market factors. Continue reading...

What is Yield to Maturity?

The payments remaining on an interest-paying bond or instrument, plus principal, are totaled up and then annualized, and this annual rate is the yield to maturity. Yield to maturity is a calculation that helps an investor decide if he or she is getting a good deal. If yield to maturity is greater than the coupon rate, the bond is trading a a discount. If yield to maturity is less than the coupon rate, it is selling at a premium. If they are equal the bond is trading at par value. Continue reading...

What is Dividend Yield?

A dividend yield is a ratio that represents how much a company pays in annual dividends relative to its share price. A dividend yield is represented as a percentage, and is easily calculated. Simply divide the annual dividends paid per year (dollar value) by the per share price of the stock. Here’s the equation in simple terms: Annual Dividends Per Share / Price Per Share = Dividend Yield A company with a higher dividend yield means they pay out more of their profits to shareholders, but it also means that company may be allocated less of their free capital towards investment, research, and other growth areas. Continue reading...

What is Bond Yield?

Bond yield is a measure of the return on investment for bonds, and there several kinds of yield that can be computed. Yield on a bond is the amount of interest that it pays annually, as a percentage of the amount invested — at least, this is the most common type of yield discussed, which is known as Current Yield. If a bond pays quarterly or monthly income to the investor, these payments are totaled up and divided by the amount invested. Continue reading...

Is there such a thing as the “January effect?”

The January Effect is a hypothesis which states that stocks will see their biggest monthly gains in January. The January Effect states that the stock market usually increases during the first few days in January, or that the largest monthly gains of the year will be realized in January, therefore January will set the pace. There are many explanations for this effect, such as tax-loss selling in December, fresh starts after the New Year, and many others. Continue reading...

What is an Inverted Yield Curve?

An inverted yield curve occurs when long-term treasuries have a lower yield than short-term treasuries. Normally, investors would not be interested in a such an arrangement and the yields would have to come up to generate some demand. However, if investor sentiment is bearish enough on bonds, they will seek to avoid the interest rate risk of short-term bonds, which will expire sooner and leave them unable to find a good rate at that point potentially. Investors with that mindset will pile on demand for long-term bonds, which drives the price up and the yields down. Continue reading...

Is there such a thing as the “pre-holiday effect?”

Pre-Holiday price fluctuations have been observed in many instances, but there a difference of opinion as to whether the markets are higher or lower just before holiday. Pre-Holiday Seasonality is the idea that prices will rise or fall before a holiday weekend in which the market will be closed for a day. When researching this phenomenon you may find colloquial wisdom stating that prices always rise before a holiday, but in actuality most of the evidence points the opposite direction: prices are most likely to close lower the day or two before a holiday weekend, and may remain low the day after the holiday, but this provides a possible opportunity to ride the upswing. Continue reading...

What is the October Effect?

The October Effect, also known as the Mark Twain Effect, is an anecdotally-founded fear that markets are vulnerable to catastrophe in the month of October. Several Octobers have appeared to be the origin of problems in the market: in 1929 at the onset of the Great Depression, the 1987 crash, and in 2008 at the start of the Great Recession. Perhaps superstitiously, many people expect October to be the worse month of the year for the market, supposing that if something bad were going to happen, it would happen in October. Statistically, there isn't much support for this idea. Continue reading...

What is Effective Annual Interest Rate?

Also known as the annual equivalent rate (AER), the effective annual interest rate is the actual annual interest rate on a bond or loan when it compounds more than once a year. The effects of compounding will make the AER higher than the annual interest rate if the security compounds greater than annually. 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...

What Happens to the Price of a Bond After I Buy It?

Bonds can be traded on exchanges before their maturity date, but the price might fluctuate based on the current interest rate environment. As the buyer of, say, a $1,000 bond, you should be aware that as long as the company does not go bankrupt, you will receive $1,000 back at the date of maturity. During the life of the bond, however, the price at which you can sell that bond might oscillate depending on the interest rate environment and the perceived financial health of the company. Continue reading...

What is a Dividend ETF?

Dividend ETFs invest primarily in preferred stock and stocks that pay regular dividends. Strategically, they tend to be either Dividend Appreciation or High Yield. Dividend ETFs are equity dividend funds that seek income from preferred stocks, common stocks. As of 2016 there are over 130 Dividend ETFs, and that’s up from about 29 in 2011 and 45 in 2012. This has become a popular strategy, obviously, and they all seek to distinguish themselves from the pack. Continue reading...

What Percentage and What Kind of Bonds Should I Have in My Portfolio?

Bonds can provide consistency and balance to a portfolio otherwise comprised of stocks. In the long run, stocks are generally associated with a higher yield, but as we know, higher returns mean higher risks. Bonds are seen as a safer, yet lower-yielding investment. Bonds offer a spectrum of risk and return potential, however, and various kinds of bonds and bond funds can be used in various market climates and portfolios. Continue reading...

What is a Dividend Rate?

The dividend rate is basically just the value of the annual dividend of a company, stated as the monetary value. Not to be confused with the dividend yield, or the dividend growth rate, both of which are percentages. Dividend yield and dividend rate are slightly different from one another. The dividend yield is the size of a dividend in relation to the share price, and is stated as a percentage. The dividend rate is actually the amount of money paid out per share, per year, stated as a dollar amount. 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 Dividend Frequency?

Dividends are paid at certain intervals by companies who pay them. This might be quarterly, annually, or semi-annually. The dividend rate that investors should keep up with is the annualized amount, but there is a lot to be said for quarterly or monthly payments, particularly for those actually using dividends as income, but even if you are just reinvesting. Higher dividend payment frequency means higher liquidity, more control, and probably higher returns in your portfolio. Continue reading...

What was the Subprime Meltdown?

A high volume of loans issued to those who were unable to repay them, and a high volume of derivative securities traded on top of these loans, contributed to the subprime meltdown of 2007-2009. A large amount of collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs) and other collateralized debt were owned by large institutions and investors as alternative high yield investments prior to the crash of 2007-2009. Continue reading...