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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 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 is a call option?

A call option is a type of contract that allows the holder of the contract to purchase an underlying stock at a specific price, even if the market price goes higher. A call option contract gives the owner of the contract the right to purchase a particular asset, which is typically a stock, at a strike price designated in the contract during a certain period of time. For example, if the stock of company ABC is trading at $100/share, you might purchase the right to buy it at $90/share for a $12/share premium. 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 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 a ratio call spread?

Ratio call spreads are options strategies where the investor combines purchased calls and short calls at the same expiration but with different strike prices. A Ratio Call Spread starts off as a delta-neutral strategy, which means that even if you have two long calls and one short call, the sensitivity of your overall position to move in the underlying is equal whether it moves up or down by small amounts. 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...

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...

What is a bear call spread?

A bear call spread seeks to make money on the sale of call options but does not believe the underlying security will increase. A Bear Call Spread strategy is utilized when one believes that the price of the underlying stock will go down (but not significantly) in the near future. It entails selling a call short at a lower price than you buy a long call, which is done to realize a net credit at the outset. Continue reading...

What is a Margin Call?

A margin call is a mandatory request by the custodian/broker for the account holder to add equity to the account, either by depositing cash or selling securities to raise cash. When an investor takes an account on margin, the custodian will require that they keep a certain amount of equity/cash in the account to maintenance the borrowed amount. If the account value drops past a certain level, the custodian may require the investor to add equity to the account to cover the margin balance. Continue reading...

What is a naked call?

A naked call is a type of option contract where the seller of a call does not own the underlying security, thereby exposing them to unlimited risk. Investors have the ability to “write” or sell options contracts as well as to buy them. The seller of a call option has opened a position in which the buyer is given the right to buy 100 shares of a stock at the strike price named in the contract. The seller – along with all other sellers of calls for that security – are the ones who must cover and close the open positions if the call owners exercise their options. Continue reading...

What is an Earnings Call?

An earnings call is when a company opens up a teleconference line or webcast that the public can join to hear the company management talk about how the company performed recently, their plans for the future, and the market forces that exist in the current environment. Most publicly traded companies today have adopted this practice. Earnings calls may take place once a year or during earnings seasons after the quarterly earnings have been announced in a press release. Companies often have one executive whose job is to interface with the shareholders in such settings, but various executives are often given a chance to present some thoughts. Continue reading...

What is a bull call spread?

A bull call spread is a vertical spread that buys and sells calls in a way that benefits from upward price movement but limits the risk of the short position. Using calls options of the same expiration date but different prices, a bull call spread seeks to maximize profits for moderate price movements upward. A long position is taken in a call contract (meaning it is bought and held) that has a strike price near the current market price of the security or is at least lower than the other call contract used in this strategy. Continue reading...

What does 'call option' mean?

If you own a Call Option, you have the right (not the obligation) to purchase a security at an agreed-upon price from the seller of the option. Buying a call option means you are bullish on the security. For example, an investor may buy an August 2017 call on stock XYZ for $50/share (strike price). This means that the owner of this call option has the ability to buy XYZ on the expiration date (August) for $50/share. 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 is a strangle?

A strangle is an options strategy which is profitable if the price of the underlying security swings either up or down because the investor has purchased a call and a put just out of the money on either side of the current price of the underlying. To execute a strangle an investor chooses an underlying security which he or she anticipates will experience some price volatility around a given expiration date for options, but is not sure which way it will go, so a call and a put are both purchased. 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...