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What is a Leveraged Loan?

A leveraged loan is a commercial loan that is generally created by a few participants, and packaged and offered by one or several investment banks. Leveraged loans are typically targeted at companies that already have a significant amount of debt and may be limited in their options to access capital elsewhere. They are considered on the higher end of the risk spectrum. Continue reading...

What is Dividend Recapitalization?

Leveraged Recapitalizations involve issuing new corporate bonds to finance a share buyback or large dividend, essentially rebalancing the capital structure of the business. Dividend recapitalizations will cause the share price to reduce, largely because the company’s debt-to-equity ratio has changed. This can be used to make the company look unattractive to potential acquirers. Recapitalizations are restructuring of a company’s capital. Dividend recapitalizations are sometimes called dividend recaps. Continue reading...

What are some examples of Investment Instruments I can use?

There is a wide variety of investments available for every kind of investor: Stocks, bonds, Mutual Funds, ETFs, Annuities, real estate, private equity, hedge funds, and so on. The vehicles for these investments also vary widely – you can buy stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs, for instance, in a brokerage account at a major custodian, or an IRA or 401(k) offered through a retirement plan. Annuities and other insurance products are often sold directly from the insurance companies, and often times banks offer vehicles and accounts you can use to invest. Continue reading...

What is an Accelerated Return Note (ARN)?

An accelerated return note (ARN) is an unsecured debt instrument that uses derivatives to offer leveraged returns and minimal loss exposure to retail investors. Accelerated Return Notes came onto the scene around 2010-2012. They are a form of structured note marketed primarily by Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. They were packaged as offering “accelerated” returns on familiar indexes and stocks. The way such returns are generated is by taking up 2x or 3x positions in calls and futures on the index or stock of choice. Continue reading...

What does Leverage Mean?

Leverage is the use of borrowed capital or debt to try and increase the potential return of an investment. An individual might leverage an investment account by going on margin to purchase additional securities, whereas the amount of debt used to finance a company’s assets is considered to be that company’s level of leverage. A firm with significantly more debt than equity is considered to be highly leveraged. Continue reading...

What is a Leveraged Buyout?

A leveraged buyout occurs when members of management use outside borrowed capital to buy a controlling share in the company. Often times, the assets of the company being acquired are used as collateral for the borrowed capital. The purpose of leveraged buyouts is to acquire another company without having to commit a lot of working capital up front. In a typical leveraged buyout, you may see a ratio of 90% debt financing to 10% equity used to acquire the company. Continue reading...

What is Operating Leverage?

Operating leverage is a measure of how critical each sale of a company is to overall cash flow. If a company has high operating leverage, it means that it relies on fewer sales with very high gross margins, versus a company with low operating leverage that experiences higher levels of sales with lower gross margins. As an example, a convenient store has less operating leverage than a business that sells yachts. Continue reading...

What is a "spread"?

Spread has several meanings in finance, but the most general usage is to describe the difference between the bid and the ask prices for a security, where a narrower spread would indicate high trading volume and liquidity. It also might refer to a type of options strategy in which an investor purchases two calls or two puts on the same underlying security but with different expiration dates or strike prices. Continue reading...

What Does it Mean to Deleverage?

When a company “deleverages,” it means it is attempting to shrink the amount of debt on its books relative to its assets. In some cases the act of deleveraging requires a company to sell-off/liquidate key assets in order to pay down debt, which ultimately means downsizing as well. A company may choose to deleverage as a strategic tactic, but often times they are forced to as a result of economic circumstances. Continue reading...

What are currency futures?

Currency futures are derivative contracts that trade on regulated exchanges around the world. Like forward contracts, they name a specific amount of one currency which is to be exchanged for a specific amount of another currency at a future date. Futures name a specific amount of one currency which will be exchanged for a specific amount of another currency at a future date. Like other derivative contracts that trade on exchanges (e.g., options), futures are transferable and are traded as the market calls for up until their expiration. Investors can short them (sell to open) and hold them long (buy to open), and can close their positions as they see fit without riding out the contract to the expiration date. Continue reading...

What is the commodity market?

The commodity market is an international network of exchanges which trade commodity spot contracts, futures contracts, and derivatives. The largest commodities exchange in the world is the CME Group in Chicago. Futures are a large part of commodities trading, and the commodities futures market includes currency futures and swaps, index futures and single-stock futures, and other derivatives based on futures contracts. Continue reading...

What is a REPO?

REPO is shorthand for Repurchase Agreement. It is a money-market practice where two entities agree to buy/sell government securities overnight and reverse the transaction the next day for the sake of providing the selling entity with short-term cash. Repurchase Agreements provide the selling party with short term liquidity, and are considered a money-market instrument. A third party usually acts as a clearing agent. Continue reading...

What Does Debt Financing Mean?

Debt financing occurs when a company borrows money or secures financing through loans, with the obligation to repay the money (typically with interest). Generally, a corporation will engage in debt financing by selling bonds in the marketplace or to private investors, or with promissory notes or commercial paper. Generally the terms of the bond or the loan will have the company commit as collateral assets of the business, such as real estate, cash on hand, or fixed assets. Continue reading...

What is a Money Market?

Money markets are very short duration debt securities, essentially the equivalent of cash traded between banks and offered to investors at a very nominal interest rate. Money market securities are essentially IOUs issued by governments, financial institutions and large corporations, and they’re traded between each other in very high denominations. Retail investors can gain access to money markets via money market funds, which generally pay very low interest rates. Continue reading...

What are Double and Triple ETFs?

Double and triple ETFs are also known as leveraged ETFs, and their goal is to magnify the performance of the index they follow. Using futures contracts and other derivative instruments, 2x or 3x ETFs attempt to magnify the performance of an index, with the goal of achieving the result daily. Because they also compound daily, they are not usually held for more than a few days. These are also called leveraged ETFs because they use margin, futures contracts, and other derivative instruments to give an investor this magnified exposure. They give you two or three times (respectively) the profits but also two or three times the losses, so one must be very cautious when dealing with them. Continue reading...

What are Bear Market Funds?

Bear market funds are designed to profit when the market or sector they follow declines. Bear Market Funds make money in declining markets, as opposed to Bull Market Funds. If you’re bearish on a sector, industry, commodity, the market, or anything else that’s tradable, rest assured that you’ll find a Bear Market Fund for it. There are also 2X Bear Market Funds, 3X Bear Market Funds, etc…, which use margin, short-selling, and derivative instruments to acquire large leveraged positions. Continue reading...

What Kinds of ETFs Exist?

There are many ETFs on the market and more popping up all the time. Currently, there are over 900 ETFs available on the market, covering basically every market sector, industry, commodity, asset class, country, style of investing on the stock market. The amount of money invested in ETFs has increased exponentially over the last decade and is likely to continue in that direction. Many more ETFs are introduced to the market every year, many with different and creative strategies that have never been available in a single investment product before. These might use Forex, rate swaps, CMOs, futures, options, short-selling, and other advanced or institutional trading strategies, to create a new kind of position in a sector, industry, or geography to which the investor wants to gain exposure. Continue reading...

What is Unlevered Beta?

Unlevered beta measures the Beta (a volatility indicator that denotes how closely an investment follows movements in the market as a whole) of a company when the effects of debt (leverage) are removed, allowing investors to gauge risk strictly as a function of company assets. The beta of a company’s equity stock is a measure of volatility relative to the rest of the market, impacting Price-to-Earnings (P/E) calculations and other valuations. When beta increases, the cost of equity increases, and results in a higher P/E. Unlevering the beta can give a clearer picture of the market risk of a company’s equity shares, as higher debt relative to equity usually constitutes more risk to investors. Continue reading...

What is the Debt to Capital Ratio?

The debt-to-capital ratio is a measure of a company’s leverage that looks at total debt compared to total capital (shareholder equity + debt). This measure of leverage is not a globally accepted accounting practice, therefore it is important for analysts to learn exactly what is being included by the company as their debt and equity in calculating the ratio. Generally speaking, a higher debt to capital ratio indicates that the company is financing more of its operations and needs through the debt markets versus with equity. Comparing debt-to-capital ratios amongst companies within the same sector or industry can be a useful exercise. Continue reading...

What is the Gearing Ratio?

In mechanics, gears are used to increase torque and to translate the force to other areas. In finance, a gearing ratio is a term referring the amount leverage being used, compared to the amount of equity. A high gearing ratio is almost the same as a high debt-to-equity ratio. The gearing ratio is computed in a slightly different manner. Gearing is another word for leverage. High amounts of debt can spell trouble for a company down the road, and investors are wise to consider that. Continue reading...