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Bonds

Q Asia Pacific - Bonds
Bonds represent loans made by investors to companies and other entities, such as branches of government, that have issued the bonds to attract capital without giving up managing control. A bondholder, in effect, holds an IOU.

Bondholders do not share in a company's profits. Rather, they receive a fixed return on their investment. This return, stated as an interest rate on the bond, is called the "coupon rate" and is a percentage of the bond's original offering price.

Bonds are issued for specified time periods. When the bond expires and the principal (original investment) is returned, the bond is said to have matured. Bonds can take as long as 30 years to mature. Time to maturity and the issuer's ability to make good on its payment obligations are the two most important factors in choosing individual bonds to purchase.

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Every bond carries the risk that a promised payment will not be made in full or on time. As uncertainty of repayment rises, investors demand higher levels of return in exchange for assuming greater risk.

Potential bond buyers can assess an issuer's ability to meet its debt obligations by considering the bond rating assigned by agencies such as Moody's Investors Service or Standard & Poor's. A rating indicating a high likelihood of repayment will allow an issuer to sell its bonds with a lower coupon rate than one that received a poorer rating.

Bonds, similar to common stocks, fluctuate in market value and, if sold prior to maturity, may produce a gain or a loss in principal value.

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