What is a corporate bond?
A corporate bond is a debt funding instrument issued by companies. It is traded in secondary bond markets and is issued extensively by large capital intensive businesses. The companies usually use the capital raised by issuing bonds for investing in research and development, buying new equipment, paying shareholders dividends, refinancing debt, and funding mergers and acquisitions.
Corporate bonds have specified tenure, and the borrower or issuer repays the principal amount at maturity. Also, investors are paid interest per annum on the principal. The interest rate on the bonds depends on various factors, including credit rating, market interest rates, inflation. Investors can also diversify by investing in various types of bonds.
In case of financial difficulty faced by a company, bond holders are the first in priority before any form of equity holder to be paid back. Bonds can be either secured bonds, which have legal right to foreclose on the collateral to satisfy the claim or unsecured bonds, which have no collateral pledged- may also be called debentures.
History of Bonds
Financial instruments like bonds are centuries old, and the first bond-like instrument was issued by Venice to fund wars.
Nations have extensively used bond financing to fund wars and run Governments. In the early 20th century, bonds issued by large businesses like utilities, railways were trading on the New York Stock Exchange. High-quality bonds were listed in markets and traded by private investors and institutions.
Large investors buy bonds in lots/batches spending huge sum of money, and bond trading firms accumulate bonds through small trades to form a lot/batch, thereby executing block trades on a markup with big buyers like insurance firms.
Since bonds trades were usually large, they were distributed in OTC market (over the counter). Exchanges also provide exposure to bonds through bond ETFs, exchange-traded bonds.
In the Great Depression of the 1930s, bond investors were selectively abashed as good quality bond yields fell or price rose, while yields rose for bonds having inferior quality and less creditworthiness. During the crisis, many bond issuers defaulted on debt, yields rose/price fell steeply, or bonds were retired or called by the issuers.
Those were gloomy days for corporate bonds and private investors/retail investors, who had loaded up their portfolio with investing in bonds that were mostly either defaulted or suffered a decline in price. But large institutions were racking up bonds at depressed prices from the sellers. Eventually, the trading in bonds majorly transitioned to OTC market.
An institutional investor intending to take a large position in an issue had two options: buy slowly over weeks through exchange or call a dealer to book a batch.
Perhaps the latter was more convincing to large investors since regularly buying over a period will eventually push prices up, which means a loss of some basis points; every basis point counts in bond trading.
During the 1930s, high-grade corporate bonds were mostly traded by institutional investors in large lots, which was inaccessible for retail investors. However, there was enough liquidity sovereign in the bond market.
After decades of underperformance by equity, the bulls were back in equities, and these were times when present-day legends like Warren Buffet rose to fame. Most of the money was flowing into equities, while bonds had attractive interest rates. Retail investors then returned to corporate bond markets as yields were attractive and offering a safe return on capital, unlike equities.
What is credit rating of corporate bonds?
Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs) provide an opinion on the creditworthiness of an issuer. They can also assign a different rating on various bonds issued by a firm, depending on the seniority of the bond, evaluation of the company risk taking capability etc.
In general, the credit rating on a bond determines whether the instrument is investment grade or non-investment grade bond (high yield bond). Below table shows the order of credit rating by three global CRAs.
Credit Ratings, Source: Moody’s, S&P, Fitch
Large sections of the investor base prefer Investment-grade bonds because of their credibility and lower probability of default. Non-investment grade bonds are relatively more vulnerable to default risks, and there can be numerous reasons for this - such as industry outlook, cash flow visibility of the firm, existing debt and so on.
Since investment grade bonds have a higher probability of return of full capital and interest payments, they carry relatively low-interest rates compared to non-investment grade bonds that carry high-interest rates to compensate for the risk.
Corporate bond, whether investment or non-investment grade, offer higher interest rate than the Government bonds, which are perceived risk-free investments because sovereign nations are the issuers.
What are the risks associated with corporate bonds?
Corporate bonds also have inherent risk like any other investment. In addition to general risks on bonds, corporate bonds are also vulnerable to individual company-specific risks such as deteriorating industry position and cash flows.
Credit risk: It is also called Default risk. It’s the risk where an issuer can fail to meet obligations like interest payments or principal repayment, therefore defaulting on the bond. CRAs assess the ability of an issuer to repay interest and principal. Should the outlook deteriorate, the revised credit rating can be assigned by CRAs.
Corporate bonds and issuers can be required to maintain covenants as a part of the debt agreement. Covenants on bonds require the issuer to maintain a certain level of financial performance and may bar from raising further debt.
Interest rate risk: As interest rates and bond prices are inversely correlated, the movement in interest rates present a risk for fixed income investors, including Government bond investors. A bond’s maturity and coupon rate affect its sensitivity to interest rate changes.
Long-term bonds are more vulnerable to interest rate risk because a long tenure can have multiple interest decisions, which will make the holding volatile. It is the reason why long-term bonds carry a higher interest rate compared to short-term bonds despite a similar credit rating.
Inflation risk: Inflation deteriorates the purchasing power of money. What you can buy today with $10 may not be available at $10 five years later. Similarly, rising inflation deteriorates the value of future cash flows from a bond.
Liquidity risk: Liquidity is the ability of an owner to dispose of the ownership of an investment to realise cash. Since bonds are traded in lots and large sums, investors often find bonds very hard to dispose of, especially bonds that are not traded frequently.
As a result, investors might receive less consideration than the fair value of the bond because selective buyers can negotiate prices effectively in the absence of large-scale demand for the bond. At the same time, bonds that are traded in OTC markets would not provide a similar level of transparency like in a stock exchange.
What is Data Analytics? Data Analytics involves a set of quantitative and qualitative approaches and processes that can be used to determine useful information for business decision-making. The process involves various patterns and techniques, including: extracting a raw database, and categorising it to identify and analyse the behaviour, relation and connection of the results. The ultimate goal is to acquire valuable information in order to make decisions for businesses’ benefit and productivity. In today's competitive times, most companies chalk out their business plan with the help of data analytics. With organisations becoming customer-service oriented, data analytics has become a critical tool to reach the target audience in an effective manner while understanding their requirements. Once data is collected, it is analysed and stored according to organisations’ requirements. The data analysis process has multiple layers involved, and its diverse modules are not just used in businesses but also in science and social science fields. Rather than making decisions based on just available information, one can utilise data analytics in examining the data in standard ways and churning out the results from it. It has been observed that companies generally make decisions based on past references and future outcomes. Data analytics appears advantageous in providing useful information towards this end. Why do Businesses Need to Use Data Analytics? Many data analytics’ tools and softwares are readily available these days. These systems use resources, such as machine learning algorithms and automation. Data scientists and analysts are counted amongst the leading career options as well. These professionals use data analytics techniques while researching and presenting useful information for businesses to increase productivity and gain. The process helps companies understand their target audience and determine effective ways to cater to their needs. Data analytics can further be used to design strategies in marketing campaigns and promotions and also evaluate its results. Data analytics is primarily used in business-to-consumer (B2C) processes to boost business performance and improve the bottom line. There are data collection firms which gather consumer information and provide it to the businesses so that the companies can effectively influence the market. The collected data is not only used to understand and impact consumer behaviour but also determine market economics and its practical implementation. The data used in the process can be either be data collected in the past or newly updated data. There are various methods to manage consumer and market information. It may come directly from the customers or potential customers or can be purchased from the data collection vendors. The data primarily includes audience demographics, behavioural patterns and expense threshold. How Can Data Analytics be Effectively Used in Business Processes? Data analytics is an ever-evolving technique. Earlier, the data was collected manually, but with the rise of internet and technology, data is now collected online with the help of search engines and social media platforms. Subsequently, the information is analysed through available software. Here is a list of some key steps businesses can follow to leverage the benefits of data analytics: Set up crucial metrics: This step reduces the guesswork and provide data-based insights to the businesses. Before embarking on the data analytics process, it is vital to determine the goal for your business. Analysing customer data helps in understanding conversion rate, consumer spending ability, demographics etc. The results of the analysis can support the businesses while making decisions in launching an advertising or marketing campaign. Similarly, the unwanted data can be erased from the database so that the brands can focus on their right target audience. The relevant metrics will change the course of the company and push it in the right direction. Moreover, once your key metrics are set, even when the market conditions change in the future, you can adjust the metrics according to the requirement and achieve the results. Set a clear module: It is important to examine the data correctly by avoiding common mistakes. An ambiguous path can produce confusing insights while wasting time and energy of businesses. Therefore, it is recommended to draw a clear goal in order to achieve actionable insights. The data, when collected from different sources, need to be merged accurately in the analytics model. Businesses can modulate their data analytics systems either manually or through automation. There are various data modelling practices available in the market. The best use of these techniques can simplify the process of modelling complex data. Data visualisation: Once the relevant data is collected, and the modules are set to analysis, visualisation of that data will assist in understanding the information correctly. When the businesses have an acute knowledge of what their target audience wants, they can then focus on strategising advertisement and content, which matches the consumers' interest. It is the critical step in the data analytics process to distinguish insights from information. Not everyone is comfortable dealing with numbers. Hence, ensuring that key stakeholders understand essential points and information can be displayed in a visually appealing format seem crucial to capitalise on data effectively. Right tools to implement insights:Having access to data and insights can get overwhelming. However, the information is worthless if the businesses are unable to implement it successfully. While it is important to collect the data and set critical metrics and modules to analyse it, it is also imperative to translate the data into practical actions. The eventual goal is to improve sales or grow profits. It is ultimately in the marketers' hands to transform the gained insights into a successful implementation. The consumers' insights should be incorporated while establishing a marketing plan and at all decision-making steps.
What is Day Trading? Day trading is popular among a section of market participants. It is a type of speculation wherein trades are squared-off before the market close in the same day. An individual or a group is engaged in buying and selling of securities for a short period for profits, the trades could be active for seconds, minutes or hours. One can engage in day trading of many securities in the market. Anyone who has sufficient capital to fund the purchase can engage in day trading. For a class of people, day trading is a full-time job. Day traders are agnostic to the long-term implications of the security and motive is to benefit from the price changes on either side and make profit out of the asset price fluctuations within a day. They bet on price movements of the security and are not averse to take short positions to benefit from the fall in price. Day trading is not only popular among individuals or retail traders but institutional traders as well, therefore the price movements are large sometimes depending on the magnitude of information flow and accessibility. Everyone wants to make money faster, and many are inclined to speculate in markets, but it comes with considerable risk and potential loss of capital. People engaged in day trading also incur losses, and oftentimes outcomes are disheartening. Day trading is a risky activity, similar to sports betting and gambling, and it could become addictive just like gambling and sports betting. Since the motive is to earn profits, the profits realised from day trading also tempt people to continue speculating. People spend considerable time and efforts to make the most out of day trading. They have to continuously absorb and incorporate information flow, which has become increasingly accessible driven by new-age communications systems like Twitter, Facebook, forums etc. But not only information flows have been favourable, day traders are now equipped with best in class infrastructure to execute trades even on compact devices like mobile phones. The accessibility to markets is at a paramount level and gone are days of phone call trading and lack of information flows. What are the essentials for Day Trading? Basic knowledge of markets With lack of basic knowledge of markets, day trading may yield unacceptable outcomes. It becomes imperative for people to know what’s on the stake. Prospective day traders should know about capital markets, and the securities traded in capital markets like bonds, equity and derivatives. Buying shares and expecting a return from the price movements are on the to-do list for many. However, it is important to know about and risks and potential returns from speculating in capital markets. After getting some basic knowledge about markets and securities, aspiring day traders should know how to analyse market prices of securities through fundamental analysis and technical analysis. Although day traders don’t practice fundamental analysis extensively, they spend considerable time to apply technical analysis, to formulate a entry and exit strategy. Device and internet connection Trading is now possible on mobile applications as well as computer applications or websites. An aspiring day trader will likely begin with mobile phone given the accessibility, and laptops/computers are useful as scale grows larger and complex. Internet connection is prerequisite to practising day trading, and it is favourable to have a fast internet connection to avoid glitches and potential problems. These perquisites are now available with large sections of societies. Broker and trading platform A broker will facilitate a market for potential trades. The security brokerage industry has also seen a profound shift as technology has driven cost lower while competition is ramping up across jurisdictions. Large retail brokerages have moved towards zero commission trading in the U.S., and the same is seen being the trend across other geographies as well. The entry of discount and online brokerages has perhaps given wings to the retail market participants as well as the retail market for security brokers. Robinhood has grown immensely popular in the United States, but there are many firms like Robinhood in other jurisdictions. Each country has some firms with business model on same lines as Robinhood. Brokers now offer high-quality mobile applications and web services to clients, and trading security has never been so accessible. They also provide access to the global market along with a range of securities, including commodity derivatives, currency derivatives, CFDs, options, futures, bond futures etc. Real-time market information flow On public sources, market price information is at times not live due technical shortcomings, which will not work appropriately, especially for day traders. Brokers not only provide platform and market but several other services, including margin lending, real-time data, research. Day traders closely track prices of securities and overall information flow to incorporate developments in bidding, and real-time data provides accurate prices throughout market hours. Information flow largely relates to the news around the company, industry or economy. Day traders now have far better sources of information than the conventional sources, and sometimes these sources could be exclusive to a group. What are the risks of day trading? Most of the aspiring day traders end up losing money, given the lack of experience and knowledge. They should rather only bet on capital that they are comfortable to loose, in short, they should avoid risk of ruin. Day trading is sort of pure-play speculation and application of knowledge, information flow, laced with good trading system is paramount. The only concern of day traders is movement in price, which contradicts from investments. Day traders try to time and ride the momentum in the price and exit the trade before momentum turns otherwise, which can happen frequently. It consumes considerable time and induces stress on the individuals given the nature of security prices, which can move north and south abruptly throughout the day, hours, minutes and seconds. Day traders should have enough capital to trade in cash instead of margin. Day trading on margin or borrowed money is extremely risky and has the potential to make a person insolvent, especially in cases of extreme risk-taking. The leverage associated with borrowed money magnifies profits as well as losses. Aspiring day traders should equip themselves with adequate knowledge, competency and sound risk management process. Although fast money is dear to most, it is better to know what is at stake before jumping into markets with excitement.
An earnings announcement is a public statement of a company’s earnings, usually done on a periodic basis. These official announcements are released quarterly or yearly to inform the investors and the market about a company’s financial performance. Companies announce their financial reports through press releases on their websites and list them on the stock exchanges website. After the information is released through a conference call, there is a question-and-answer round with the senior management in which analysts, media, and investors can participate. On the basis of the report, analysts then incorporate earning measures such as EPS (Earning Per Share). These reports help investors in making sound investment decisions. Earnings results are announced during the earnings season on a date chosen by the company. Stock prices of the companies take a swing before and after the company releases its earnings report. Equity analysts also predict earnings estimates through their analysis which drives stock prices movement due to speculations. Stock prices even move after the earning results are declared, up or down, depending on how the results have turned out. Source: Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media Pty Ltd. When are earning announcements made? It is mandatory for every listed company to report its quarterly financial results in the US but not in Australia. In Australia, companies release their financial report on a semi-annual basis. Having said that, many Australian companies also update their shareholders quarterly, but these are not considered official earnings. These quarterly reports are released to satisfy the market demand for information and to disclose the company’s guidance on its performance. The financial calendar varies from country to country and therefore, the earnings season changes as well. In the US, the earnings season starts after the final month of the financial quarter. Usually, American companies start posting their earnings reports in January, April, July, and October. In Australia, companies report twice a year, usually around February and August, or May and October. It depends upon the company’s financial cycle. However, whether quarterly in the US or semi-annually in Australia, these earnings results are required as agreed while listing the company with the stock exchanges. Source: Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media Pty Ltd. Why are earnings announcements necessary? Financial results help investors, media, and other stakeholders of the company to have a greater understanding of the company’s financial footing. Companies not just provide sales, operating profit, net profits, but also offer guidance and outlook for coming months. Additionally, these reports also have senior management statements directed at the market. Therefore, earning announcements act as an informative document for the investors and analysts to study and gauge a company’s performance. Analysts can provide earnings estimates, and investors can then take wise investment decisions. These documents are also vital for companies when it comes to seeking funding for the business. Financial institutions can also judge a company’s financial health by evaluating earnings reports. The management offers insights on growth drivers, risk factors, etc that impacted the earnings during that particular period. Analysts also assess the earnings results, taking into account the external factors that drove the growth or impacted the firm negatively. These factors could be mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies, economic discrepancies, policy changes, etc. For investors, earnings reports are essential because these announcements swing the price up or down. Traders keep a keen eye on these reports as it can be a time when they can confirm positions. However, some investors also avoid earnings seasons because of the involvement of various human factors.
What is EBITDA? Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortisation (EBITDA) is a widely used financial metric in evaluating cash flows and profitability of a business. Market participants closely track EBITDA and apply it in decision making extensively. Although conventional investors like Charlie Munger had raised concerns over the use of EBITDA, it is very popular in markets, and M&A transactions are mostly priced on EBITDA-based valuation like EV/EBITDA (x). EBITDA is not recognised by IFRS and GAAP but is used extensively in the Corporate Finance world. It is now a mainstream financial metric that companies look to target. EBITDA depicts operational cash generation capacity of a firm in a given period. It acts as an alternative to financial metrics like revenue, profit or earnings per share. EBITDA allows to evaluate a business operationally and outcomes of operating decisions. Non-operating items are excluded to arrive at EBITDA. EBITDA excludes the impact of capital structure or debt/equity, and non-cash expenses like depreciation and amortisation. A particular criticism of EBITDA has been the inappropriate outlook of capital intensive businesses, which incur large depreciation expenses. Business with large assets incurs substantial costs related to repair and maintenance, which are not captured in EBITDA because depreciation expenses are accounted to calculate EBITDA. Meanwhile, EBITDA can paint an appropriate picture for asset-light business with lower capital intensity. While revenue, profit and earning per share remain sought-after headline generators for corporates, EBITDA has also found its growing application in the corporate finance world and is now a mainstream metric to evaluate a business financially. Perhaps the growth of asset-light business models has also added to the use of EBITDA. Its debt-agnostic approach to evaluate businesses has given reasons to investors, especially for high growth firms during capital expenditure cycles. But EBITDA has been present for close to four decades now. In the 1980s, the growth in corporate takeovers through leverage buyout transaction was on a boom. EBITDA grew popular to value heavy industries like broadcasting, telecommunication, utilities. John Malone is credited for coining this term. He was working at TCI- a cable TV provider. Since EBITDA has remained an important metric to determine purchase price multiples and is highly used in M&A transactions. EBITDA’s application in large businesses with capital intensive assets that are written down over a long period has been a source of concern for many investors. Although EBITDA is an effective metric to evaluate the profitability of a firm, it does not reflect actual cash flow picture of a firm during a period. Also, it does not account for capital expenditures of the firm, which are crucial in successfully running a business. EBITDA does not give a fair cash flow position because it leaves out crucial items like working capital, debt and interest repayments, fixed expenses, capital expenditure. At the outset, there can be times when EBITDA may overstate performance, value and ability to repay debt. How to calculate EBITDA? NPAT: Net Profit after tax is the amount reported by a firm in the given period. It is present on the income statement of the firm and is used in the calculation of earnings per share of an entity. To calculate EBITDA, interest expense, tax, depreciation and amortisation are added to NPAT. Interest Expense: Firms can employ debt in their capital structure, and interest expense is funds paid to lenders as interest costs on principal debt. Most companies have different financing structure, and excluding interest payments enable comparing firms on operating grounds through EBITDA. Tax: Firms also pay income tax on profits. Excluding taxes gives a fair picture of the operating performance of the business since tax vary across jurisdictions, and sometimes according to size of business as well. Depreciation: Depreciation is the non-cash expense to account for the steady reduction in value of tangible assets. Firms can incur depreciation expense on machinery, vehicles, office assets, equipment etc. Amortisation: Amortisation is the non-cash expense to account for the reduction in the value of intangible assets like patents, copyrights, export license, import license etc. Operating Profit: Operating profit is the core profit of a firm generated out of operations. It includes cash and non-cash expenses of a firm, excluding income tax and interest expenses. Operating Profit is also called Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT). Read: EBIT vs EBITDA What is TTM EBITDA and NTM EBITDA? Trailing Twelve Months (TTM) or Last Twelve Months (LTM) EBITDA represents the EBITDA of the past twelve months of the firm. It allows to review the last operation performance of the business. Whereas NTM EBITDA represents 12-month forward forecast EBITDA of the firm. NTM EBITDA is also one-year forward EBITDA. Market participants are provided with consensus analysts’ estimates for a firm, which also include NTM EBITDA, NTM EPS, NTM Net Income or NPAT. What is EBITDA margin? EBITDA margin is the percentage proportion of a firm EBITDA against total revenue. It indicates the operational profitability of the firm and cash flows to some extent. If a firm has a higher margin, it means the level of EBITDA against revenue is higher. It is widely used in comparing similar companies and enable to evaluate businesses relatively. If a firm has a total revenue of $1 million and EBITDA is $800k, the EBITDA margin is 80%. What is adjusted EBITDA? Adjusted EBITDA is calculated to provide a fair view business after adding back non-cash items, one-time expenses, unrealised gains and losses, share-based payments, goodwill impairments, asset write-downs etc.