What Is a Principal Exchange Rate Linked Security (PERL)?

A principal exchange rate linked security (PERL) is a type of investment in debt that pays interest semiannually and has a yield that is linked to foreign exchange rates. That is, the principal repayment amount is determined by the exchange rate of a certain currency in comparison with the U.S. dollar at the time the repayment is due.

Many buyers of PERLs are companies that see this type of debt security as a means of hedging against fluctuations in foreign exchange rates. They also may be purchased by speculators who think they know which way a particular foreign currency is going to move in price.

Key Takeaways

  • A PERL is a type of bond that is bought in U.S. dollars and pays interest in U.S. dollars but the final repayment amount is determined in a second currency.
  • The yield on the PERL will decrease if the U.S. dollar appreciates against the other currency.
  • There also is a reverse PERL which increases in yield if the U.S. dollar appreciates against the other currency.

Understanding Principal Exchange Rate Linked Securities (PERLs)

PERLs are debt securities or debt instruments that are bought and sold between two parties. They pay the buyer semi-annually in amounts that are determined by the exchange rate of a specific currency against a base currency, usually the U.S. dollar.

That makes a PERL a type of dual currency bond which pays the coupon and the principal in the base currency while having the principal payment vary according to a set redemption formula. By this formula, the variable is linked to the movement of the selected currency in comparison to a base currency, the U.S. dollar.

PERLs are typically denominated in U.S. dollars, and their interest is paid in U.S. dollars, but their repayment value is determined by the exchange rate between the dollar and a specific foreign currency within a certain time frame.

The principal payments increase as the foreign currency appreciates relative to the U.S. dollar. The payments decrease as the foreign currency declines against the dollar.

A company that wishes to do global business can do it more safely by purchasing PERLs, which allow for the currency to retain a link to the dollar.

The Reverse PERL

There is also a reverse PERL. This is denominated in one currency but pays interest in another.

With a reverse PERL, the principal payments increase as the base currency appreciates relative to the foreign currency, and the payments decrease with the depreciation of the base currency.

An example of a reverse PERL is a yen-denominated bond that pays interest in dollars. An investor’s yield would increase if the dollar appreciates against the yen, but the yield would decrease if the dollar falls in value.