What is 'Fairway Bond'

A fairway bond has a floating interest rate or an interest-rate option that underlies the bond, which pays interest when the embedded index or underlying interest-rate option remains within a specified range. As long as the bond’s rate stays within that range, the bond is said to be in the fairway, a golf metaphor meaning securely in play. If the bond’s yield falls out of it prescribed range, it is said to be in the rough.  The outlook for a bond, similar to a golf shot, is considered positive if it lands in the fairway, but the outlook is negative if it lands in the rough.

A fairway bond is also referred to by several other names, including corridor bond, index range note, range accrual note and index floater.

BREAKING DOWN 'Fairway Bond'

Fairway bonds are often preferred by conservative investors, who choose the securities in the hopes of maximizing their yield when they believe that the option will remain within a certain range during the time period when the bonds are held. Investors in fairway bonds may profit the most during a sideways market, which occurs when the price of a given security trades within a range without forming any distinct up or down trends.

Fairway bonds can also be a popular choice among investors when interest rates are expected to rise in the near future. Many investors tend to shy away from the bond market during periods of potentially higher interest rates, because they don’t want to be locked into the current lower coupons if rates do move higher. However, investors in  fairway bonds can take advantage of higher interest rates as they occur by purchasing bonds whose rate will remain in or land in the predetermined range even if the expected hike is included.

At worst, even if a fairway bond’s embedded index or interest-rate option remain out of range, or in the rough, for the life of the security, an investor can still expect a return of the bond’s principal upon its maturity.

Floating Interest Rate vs Interest Rate Option       

Fairway bonds typically carry a short-term floating interest or an interest-rate option. A floating interest rate moves up and down with the rest of the market or along with an index. It can also be referred to as a variable interest rate because it can vary over the duration of the debt obligation. This is why fairway bonds are also commonly known as index floaters. Many fairway bonds are indexed to LIBOR, the world’s most widely-used benchmark for short-term interest rates.

An interest rate option is a financial derivative that allows the holder to benefit from changes in interest rates. It is similar to an equity option and can be either a put or a call. Typically, the movement follows an underlying benchmark rate, such as the yield on the 10-year Treasury note.

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