Easy Guide for Filipinos: How to Invest in Bonds

James Ryan Jonas

You’ve already learned the basics of stock trading and investing in our Stocks Tutorial and Guide. This time, let’s learn another type of financial investment: Bonds.

What are Bonds?

In very simple terms, a bond is an obligation by the borrower (bond issuer) to pay the lender (bondholder) a specific amount of money in the future.

Like stocks, bonds are issued as a way of raising funds. If a company, for example, needs money to expand the business or to pay out loans, they can choose to issue either stocks or bonds in order to raise capital.

What’s the Difference between Stocks and Bonds?

A major difference between a stock and a bond is that stocks do not guarantee any future payment while bonds have a known and specific payment in the future.

This means if you invest in stocks, you are not sure if you can earn sometime in the future because you do not know if the stock price will go up or if you will receive dividends. Companies, even if they are profitable, are not obligated to pay dividends to their shareholders.

Bond issuers, meanwhile, are required to announce a specified coupon interest rate prior to the issue. This guarantees that bondholders will know how much they can earn in the future. If the bond issuer suddenly becomes unable to pay its interest obligations, it is said to be in default.

Bond Investing Terms: Face Value, Maturity Date, Coupon Rate

Let’s define these commonly used bond terms.

The Face Value of the bond is the amount of money the bond issuer borrowed and must be repaid at the end of the loan period.

An issuer who, for example, issued 100 units of bonds worth P1,000 each will have to pay a total of P100,000 (that’s 100 x P1,000). The face value of the bonds, therefore, is P100,000.

The face value is sometimes also called Par Value or Principal.

The end of the loan period is called the Maturity Date. At the maturity date, the bond issuer is required to pay the total amount of the loan borrowed from bondholders.

The amount of money earned from a bond is determined by the Coupon Rate or Interest Rate of that bond. This is always announced prior to the issue. Most bonds pay coupon interest semiannually, that is, every 6 months, although there are some that pay quarterly or annually.

How exactly an investor earns from bond investing will be discussed in Part 2 of our series on How to Invest in Bonds.

* Check out our comprehensive Bonds tutorial here: How to Invest in Bonds in the Philippines

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.