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Corporate BasicsBasicsCorporate StructureCorporate FundamentalsCorporate DebtRisksEconomicsCorporate AccountingDividendsEarnings

What is a Home Mortgage?

A home mortgage is a long-term loan for the purchase of a home, secured by the value of the home itself. Banks as well as mortgage companies make mortgage loans to consumers and charge an interest rate for the duration of the loan that may be fixed or variable. Mortgage loans generally last for between 15 to 30 years, and they are constructed so that paying off a home can fit into a person’s budget while a bank or lending institution collects interest on each payment. Continue reading...

What are Fixed Income Funds?

Fixed income funds may not be used for income at all, but are relatively safe investments that primarily consist of dividend-paying bonds. Fixed income funds, also known as bond funds, invest primarily in bonds, but might also include some preferred stock, which pays regular dividends and behaves much like debt instruments. In fact, there are also Preferred Stock Funds and ETFs that fit into this category. Continue reading...

What is a Home Equity Loan?

Home equity loans give a homeowner the ability to borrow a lump sum against their home equity. Homeowners have the ability to use their home equity as collateral on a lump-sum loan from a lending institution. This may be done on a paid-off home or on one with an outstanding first mortgage. People sometimes use these to pay for large expenses such as their children’ s college, or as a debt consolidation tool. When used for debt consolidation, a homeowner will take out a large loan against the equity they have in their home and use it to pay off debts to credit card companies and other creditors. Continue reading...

What is a Fixed Income Security?

A fixed income security is one designed to pay interest/coupon payments on a predetermined basis, or a fixed schedule. Fixed income securities are often used by late stage retirees who need safe, reliable income streams. Fixed income securities still have risk, such as interest rate risk where if interest rates rise the price of a fixed income security can fall. Examples of fixed income securities are U.S. Treasuries, municipal bonds, or CDs. Because fixed income products carry relatively low risk, it generally translates into relatively lower returns. Continue reading...

What is a Fixed Annuity?

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 relationship between major currencies in general?

What is the relationship between major currencies in general?

There are six major currencies traded and used as benchmarks on Forex markets: United States Dollars, Euros, Yen, British Pounds, Australian Dollars, Canadian Dollars, and Swiss Francs. There are also relationships between these and others, known as currency correlations. Currency exchange rates can be fixed or floating, and this is determined by policy within the country and how they want to value their money. Continue reading...

What are the Different Types of Annuities?

There are fixed annuities, fixed/indexed annuities, variable annuities, hybrid annuities, income annuities, period income annuities, and possibly more. Insurance companies, and the insurance subsidiary wings of investment companies, have had many years to develop strategies and marketing ploys that help clients accumulate, protect, and distribute assets within various kinds of annuities. Variable annuities allow the annuitant to participate in the market through mutual funds — or, more accurately, “separate accounts” that mimic mutual funds. Continue reading...

What is Duration?

Duration refers to the amount of time before a fixed income product will return the investment (principal and interest) to the investor. The bigger the duration number, the greater the interest-rate risk or reward for bond prices. For example, an investor should generally expect to receive better interest from a 30-year duration bond versus a 10-year, since the investor has to hold the note for longer to receive all interest payments and principal. Continue reading...

What is a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)?

Much like a Reverse Mortgage or Second Mortgage, a HELOC gives homeowners the ability to convert their home equity into cash. A HELOC is a line of credit secured by the equity in your home. Homeowners can choose when to use the funds, and there are repayments due according to a schedule in the contract. It functions as a revolving line of credit, similar to a credit card with large limits. Some people find themselves interested in a HELOC if they have a large balloon payment due on a loan, perhaps even their home mortgage loan. They are also sometimes used as a debt consolidation tool to pay off credit cards and other outstanding debts (but, for this, fixed-rate home equity loans are more popular). Continue reading...

Is my portfolio diversified enough?

Is my portfolio diversified enough?

Diversification is intended to reduce the volatility of price movements in individual securities, but many people are not sure what proper diversification looks like. It depends. You should definitely have exposure to at least two asset classes: equities and bonds. Within each asset class, diversification is also important. In your equity portfolio, you should have exposure to stocks with various capitalizations (such as Large Cap, Mid Cap, and Small Cap), various geographical areas (such as the Europe), Developing Markets, and Emerging Markets. Continue reading...

What is Maturity?

Maturity is the amount of time an investment exists - once the security matures, it is paid off to the investor and concludes the transaction. Maturities are most commonly used in the fixed income context, with bonds having maturities consistent with when their principal is paid back to the investor. What is Yield to Maturity? How Do I Structure My Bond Portfolio? 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 Investment Options Do Annuities Have?

The investment options in an annuity depend on the insurance company offering the product. The investment options are generally limited, however. If you decided on a Fixed Annuity, the insurance company agrees to pay you a fixed percentage for a set period of time – the rest is completely handled by the company. Usually, this percentage is higher in the beginning (teaser rate), and might go down periodically. Continue reading...

Should I Trust an Article Such as “Five Best Ways To Invest For Income?”

Yes and no. Avoid putting too much faith in “best” lists, but realize that at least three of these are probably going to irrefutable and fundamentally sound bits of advice, and probably delivered in a timely manner. Generally speaking, there is no such thing as the “best ways” to invest. However, such articles can help you to land on some timely strategies that you may not have acted on without prompting. Continue reading...

What is an Annuity?

What is an Annuity?

Annuities are financial products developed and sold generally by insurance companies, and they are designed to protect an investor’s principle against the risks of market fluctuations and longevity (life expectancy). Annuities get their names from a series of payments which are based on an annualized payout rate. Annuities formerly just offered fixed payments for life, like a pension, and they were developed by life insurance companies who would use their mortality tables to determine the payout rates. Continue reading...

What is the 'Fixed Assets to Net Worth' Ratio?

The fixed assets to net worth ratio is a calculation intended to measure the solvency of a company. It generally tells the analyst what percentage of a company’s assets are cash vs. fixed assets. To calculate the ratio, you divide net fixed assets into net worth. A fixed assets to net worth ratio greater than 0.75, generally, means that a company has too much of their net worth tied up in assets like equipment, machinery, land, and so on. Continue reading...

What is a Bond?

A bond is a contract which “binds” the lender to the debtor, where an individual investor is generally the lender and the debtor is the company or government which has borrowed funds. When a company or government entity needs more capital, whether to fund operations or a specific project, it can borrow money from investors instead of from a banking institution. Where there is a risk of the investor not being repaid, the interest rate will be proportionally higher. The simplest way a bond works is with set payments at set intervals that gradually repay the debt and interest owed to the investor over a set amount of time. Continue reading...

What is a Corporate Bond?

A corporate bond is a debt security issued by a public or private company to raise capital. They are generally issued in multiples of $1,000 or $5,000, and the issuing company must agree to pay a certain interest rate typically determined by their creditworthiness and earning history/potential. Often times the corporation issuing the debt must use their physical assets as collateral, and it is often found that corporations are more likely to issue debt during an environment when interest rates are low, so they can borrow at attractive rates. Corporate debt that matures in less than one year is called ‘commercial paper.’ Continue reading...

What are Balanced Funds?

Balanced funds offer a well-diversified investment that includes relatively equal exposure to stocks and bonds. Balanced funds combine stocks, bonds, and money market instruments to give investors some upside potential along with a goal of capital preservation. While they are considered to be safer, they also have more modest returns in most market environments, because, of course lower risk investments have lower potential returns. 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...