Investor's wiki



What Is a Bondholder?

A bondholder is an investor or the owner of debt securities that are typically issued by corporations and governments. Bondholders are essentially lending money to the bond issuers. In return, bond investors receive their principal — initial investment — back when the bonds mature. For most bonds, the bondholder additionally receives periodic interest payments.

Bondholders Explained

Investors might purchase bonds directly from the responsible entity. For instance, Treasury bonds can be bought from the U.S. Treasury during auctions of new issues. Bond investors can likewise purchase beforehand issued bonds on the secondary market through a broker or financial institution.

Bonds are typically viewed as safer investments than stocks since bondholders have a higher claim on the responsible company's assets in the event of bankruptcy. In other words, assuming that the company must sell or liquidate its assets, any proceeds will go to bondholders before common stockholders.

A Brief Primer on Bond Specifics

While investing in bonds, there are several vital areas that the bondholder must understand before investing. Not at all like stocks, bonds don't offer ownership participation in that frame of mind through a return of profits or voting rights. Instead, they represent the issuer's loan obligations and the probability of repayment, and other factors influence their pricing.

Interest Rate

The coupon rate is the rate of interest that the company or government will pay the bondholder. The interest rate can be either fixed or floating. A floating rate might be tied to a benchmark, for example, the yield of the 10-year Treasury bond.

A few bonds don't pay interest to investors. Instead, they sell at a lower price than their face value or at a discount. A zero-coupon bond, for instance, doesn't pay coupon interest but trades at a deep discount to the face value, delivering its profit at maturity when the bond returns its full-face value. For instance, a $1,000 discounted bond might sell in the market for $950, and upon maturity, the investor receives the $1,000 face value for a $50 profit.

Maturity Date

The date of maturity is the point at which the company must pay back the principal — initial investment — to bondholders. Most government securities pay back the principal at maturity. Notwithstanding, the corporations that issue bonds have a couple of options for how they can repay.

The most common form of repayment is called a redemption out of capital. Here, the responsible company makes a lump sum payment on the date of maturity. A subsequent choice is called a debenture redemption reserve. With this method, the responsible company returns specific amounts every year until the debenture is repaid on the date of maturity.

A few bonds are callable securities. A callable bond — otherwise called a redeemable bond — is one that the issuer might recover at a date before the stated maturity. Assuming called the issuer will return the investor's principal early, ending all future coupon payments.

Credit Ratings

The issuer's credit rating and ultimately the bond's credit rating impacts the interest rate that investors will receive. Credit-rating agencies measure the creditworthiness of corporate and government bonds to give investors an outline of the risks implied in investing in that particular bond rather than investing in comparable products.

Credit rating agencies typically assign letter grades to indicate these ratings. Standard and Poor's, for instance, has a credit rating scale going from excellent at AAA to C and D for securities that carry higher credit risk. A debt instrument with a rating below BB is viewed as a speculative-grade or a junk bond, and that means the bond's issuer is bound to default on loans.

Bondholders Earn Income

Bondholders earn income in two primary ways. First, most bonds return customary interest — coupon rate — payments that are generally paid semi-every year. In any case, depending on the structure of the bond it might pay yearly, quarterly, or even monthly coupons. For instance, on the off chance that a bond pays a 4% interest rate, called a coupon rate, and has a $1,000 face value, the investor will be paid $40 each year or $20 semiannually until maturity. The bondholder receives their full principal back at bond maturity ($1,000 x 0.04 = $40/2 = $20).

The second way a bondholder can earn income from the holding is by selling the bond on the secondary market. In the event that a bondholder sells the bond before maturity, there's the potential for a gain on the sale. Like other securities, bonds can increase in value, but several factors become possibly the most important factor with bond appreciation.

For instance, let's say an investor paid $1,000 for a bond with a $1,000 face value. Assuming the bondholder sells the bond before maturity in the secondary market and the bond might fetch $1,050, thereby earning $50 on the sale. Of course, the bondholder could lose assuming that the bond diminishes in value from the original purchase price.

Bondholders and Taxes

Other than the upsides of customary passive income and the return of investment at maturity, one big advantage of being a bondholder is the income from certain bonds might be exempt from income taxes. Municipal bonds, those issued by nearby or state governments, often pay interest that isn't subject to taxation. Nonetheless, to purchase a triple-tax-free bond that is exempt from state, nearby, and federal taxes, you typically must live in the municipality in which the bond is issued.

Rewards for Bondholders

The rewards accessible to bondholders incorporate a relatively safe investment product. They receive customary interest payments and a return of their invested principal on maturity. Likewise, now and again, the interest isn't subject to taxes. Nonetheless, with its upside bondholding additionally conveys its share of risks.


  • Bondholders can earn a fixed income with regular interest—or coupon—payments.

  • Bondholders have the benefits of a safe, risk-free investment with U.S. Treasurys.

  • In case of company bankruptcy, bondholders receive payment before common stock shareholders.

  • Some municipal bonds provide tax-free interest payments.


  • Bondholders face interest rate risk when market rates are rising.

  • Credit risk and default risk can happen to corporate bonds tied to the issuer's financial viability.

  • Bondholders may face inflationary risk if inflation outpaces the coupon rate of the security they hold.

  • When market interest rates outpace the coupon rate, the face value of the bond on the secondary market may decrease.

## Risks for Bondholders

The interest rate paid on a bond might not keep up with inflation. Inflationary risk is a measure of price increases throughout an economy. On the off chance that prices rise by 3% and the bond pays a 2% coupon, the bondholder has a net loss in real terms. In other words, bondholders have inflation risk.

Bondholders additionally must deal with the potential of interest rate risk. Interest rate risk happens when interest rates are rising. Most bonds have fixed-rate coupons, and as market rates rise, they might wind up paying lower rates. As a result, a bondholder might earn a lower yield compared to the market in the rising-rate environment.

Being a bondholder is generally perceived as an okay undertaking since bonds guarantee consistent interest payments and the return of principal at maturity. In any case, a bond is just pretty much as safe as the underlying issuer. Bonds carry credit risk and default risk since they're tied to the issuer's financial viability. On the off chance that a company struggles financially, investors are at risk of default on the bond. In other words, the bondholder might lose 100% of the principal invested should the underlying company file bankruptcy.

For instance, holding corporate bonds typically yields higher returns than holding government bonds, but they accompany higher risk. This yield difference is on the grounds that it is more outlandish a government or municipality will file for bankruptcy and leave its bondholders unpaid. Of course, bonds issued by foreign countries with shakier economies or governments during disturbance can still carry a far greater risk of default than those issued by financially stable governments and corporations.

Bond investors must consider the risk-versus-prize of being a bondholder. Risk causes bond prices on the secondary market to fluctuate and deviate from the bond's face value. Potential bondholders may not pay $1,000 for a bond with a $1,000 face value on the off chance that it's issued by another company with little earnings history, or by a foreign government with an uncertain future.

As a result, the $1,000 bond may just sell for $800 or at a discount. In any case, the investor who purchases the bond is taking the risk that the issuer won't overlap or default before the investment's maturity. In return, the bondholder has the potential of a 20% gain at maturity.

Real-World Examples of Investing as a Bondholder

Potential bondholders can invest in government bonds or corporate bonds. Below is an illustration of each with the benefits and risks.

Government Bonds

A U.S. Treasury bond (T-bond) is issued by the U.S. government to fund-raise to finance projects or everyday operations. The U.S. Treasury Department issues bonds by means of auctions at different times throughout the year while existing bonds trade in the secondary market. Considered risk-free with the full faith and credit of the U.S. government backing them, T-bonds are a favorite investment for conservative investors. In any case, the risk-free feature has a drawback as T-bonds as a rule pay a lower interest rate than corporate bonds.

Treasury bonds are long-term bonds — maturities between 10 to 30 years — giving semiannual interest payments, and have $1,000 face values. The 30-year Treasury bond yield closed at 2.817% March 31, 2019, so the bondholder receives 2.817% yearly. At maturity, in 30 years, they receive the full invested principal back. T-bonds can sell on the secondary market before maturity.

Corporate Bonds

Bed Bath and Beyond Inc. (BBBY) has currently a discount bond as of April 05, 2019. The fixed bond — BBBY4144685 — has a rate of 4.915 and matures in August 2034. As of April 05, 2019, the bond priced at $77.22 versus the $100 offering price at the original issue. The value of the bond fell as BBBY had financial difficulty for a very long time.

At times, the yield for the BBBY bond has risen to however much 7% coupon reflecting the credit risk implied with the security. As a comparison, a 10-year Treasury yield runs around 2.45%. The BBBY offering is deeply discounted with a liberal yield and a tough serving of associated risks. Should the company file for bankruptcy, bondholders could face losing their entire principal.


  • A bondholder is an investor who gets bonds issued by an entity, for example, a corporation or government body.
  • Bondholders may additionally profit in the event that the particular bonds that they own increase in value, which can be sold on the secondary market.
  • Bondholders essentially become creditors to the issuer, thus bondholders partake in certain protections and priority over stock (equity) holders.
  • The holders of bonds receive their initial principal back when the bonds mature in addition to periodic interest (coupon) payments for most bonds.