"There have been several articles in recent issues of a seniors magazine enthusiastically supporting Strip Bonds. We have fielded a lot of questions from clients on this subject and felt it would be appropriate to clarify some points about this type of investment vehicle."
What are they?Strip Bonds (sometimes called Stripped Bonds) are created by investment dealers hereby the interest portion of government bonds, Federal or Provincial, are literally stripped from the principal portion. The separated coupons and remaining principal are then sold separately to investors.
For example, let's look at a fictitious $10,000 Government of Canada bond with a coupon of 10% and a maturity date of June 1, 2005. If all of the coupons are stripped off, a buyer of the remaining bond portion will receive only one payment of $10,000 on June 1, 2005 if the bond is held to maturity. There will be no payments of interest before maturity, since the coupons have been sold to someone else.
How is the purchase price determined?
buyer of the bond described in our example certainly won't pay $10,000
now to receive $10,000 back in the year 2005 without any intervening interest
payments. The market
price of the bond at any date is really a calculation of its then
Whoever holds the bond on June 1, 2005 will receive $10,000 for it. Buyers and sellers of the bond before June 1, 2005 will pay or receive an amount based on the present value at the time of the transaction. The dollar return for the buyer is the difference between the present value paid and the maturity amount. This is treated as interest income.
What does this information mean from an investment standpoint?
1) excellent investment for producing compound growth over a specified period of time (yields are locked in at the time of purchase and will hold through maturity - if the bond is held to maturity - makes an ideal product for a self-directed RRSP).
2 ) small amounts of capital can produce substantial maturity payouts
3) 100% government guarantee (federal or provincial) regardless of amount invested
4) Liquid and can be sold at any time
1) no interest payments prior to maturity and therefore not practical for those requiring a regular income
3) the present value of the bond will fluctuate widely with changes in prevailing interest rates since there are no regular interest payments to stabilize the value. Therefore resale prior to maturity, either voluntary or for estate windups or emergencies, may result in a substantial gain or loss on the original amount paid .
In summary, strip bonds can be a very good investment if held in a RRSP, or for someone who wants to lock in a compound rate of growth and does not mind the annual tax liability and lack of regular income.
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