What is a 'Serial Bond'

A serial bond is a bond issue that is structured so that a portion of the outstanding bonds mature at regular intervals until all of the bonds have matured. Because the bonds mature gradually over a period of years, these bonds are used to finance projects that provide a consistent income stream for bond repayment. The entire bond issue is sold to the public on the same date, and the maturity dates are stated in the offering documents.

BREAKING DOWN 'Serial Bond'

If an issuer reduces the dollar amount of bonds outstanding, it reduces the risk that the issuer misses a principal repayment or interest payment and defaults on the bond issue. While a serial bond issue requires the issuer to repay specific bondholders on a stated date, other bond issues are structured with a sinking fund.

The Differences Between Sinking Funds and Serial Bond Issues

In a sinking fund, the issuer makes periodic payment to the bond issue's trustee, and the trustee purchases bonds in the open market and retires the bonds. The trustee represents the interests of the bondholders and must use the sinking fund payments to buy bonds and retire them. Instead of retiring bonds according to a specific schedule, the trustee purchases bond from any bondholder who is willing to sell his holdings. Both sinking funds and serial bond issues reduce the total dollar amount of bonds outstanding over time.

Factoring in Municipal Revenue Bonds

A serial bond structure is a common strategy for municipal revenue bonds, because these bonds are issued for fee-generating projects built by states and cities. Assume, for example, that a city builds a sports stadium that is funded with parking fees, stadium concession income and lease income. If the bond issuer believes that the facility can generate income consistently each year, it can structure the bond for serial maturity dates. As the total amount of bonds outstanding decreases, the future risk on the bond issue defaulting also declines.

Examples of Bond Rating Companies

Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investor Services both provide bond ratings that assess the ability of a bond issuer to repay principal and interest payments on time. A bond issue with a sinking fund or a serial maturity has more creditworthiness than a bond issue that matures entirely on one maturity date. If, for example, a serial bond for a $10 million stadium bond misses bond interest payments 15 years after the issue date, a certain dollar amount of bonds are already paid off before year 15. Because fewer bonds are outstanding, the issuer may be able to recover financially and pay the interest payments that were missed.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Serial Bond With Balloon

    A combination of a serial bond issue and a term bond issue. Essentially, ...
  2. Term Bond

    Bonds from the same issue that share the same maturity dates. ...
  3. Sinking Fund

    A means of repaying funds that were borrowed through a bond issue. ...
  4. Discount Bond

    A discount bond is a bond that is issued for less than its par ...
  5. Reverse Convertible Bond - RCB

    A bond that can be converted to cash, debt or equity at the discretion ...
  6. Bond Resolution

    1. A document used with government bonds, especially general ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    An Introduction to Individual Bonds

    Individual bonds are better than bond funds and can be a key component to one’s investment strategy.
  2. Financial Advisor

    Advising FAs: Explaining Bonds to a Client

    Most of us have borrowed money at some point in our lives, and just as people need money, so do companies and governments. Companies need funds to expand into new markets, while governments need ...
  3. Investing

    5 Fixed Income Plays After the Fed Rate Increase

    Learn about various ways that you can adjust a fixed income investment portfolio to mitigate the potential negative effect of rising interest rates.
  4. Investing

    Find The Right Bond At The Right Time

    Find out which bonds you should be investing in and when you should be buying them.
  5. Financial Advisor

    7 Questions to Consider Before Investing in Bonds

    There is a significant number of questions every investor, private or institutional, should consider before investing in bonds.
  6. Investing

    U.S. Corporate Bonds: The Last Safe Place to Make Money

    There aren't many other sources right now for relatively safe, steady income.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Why is my bond worth less than face value?

    Find out how bonds can be issued or traded for less than their listed face values, and learn what causes bond prices to fluctuate ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Asset Allocation

    An investment strategy that aims to balance risk and reward by apportioning a portfolio's assets according to an individual's ...
  2. IRR Rule

    A measure for evaluating whether to proceed with a project or investment. The IRR rule states that if the internal rate of ...
  3. Short Covering

    Short covering is buying back borrowed securities in order to close an open short position.
  4. Covariance

    A measure of the degree to which returns on two risky assets move in tandem. A positive covariance means that asset returns ...
  5. Liquid Asset

    An asset that can be converted into cash quickly and with minimal impact to the price received. Liquid assets are generally ...
  6. Nostro Account

    A bank account held in a foreign country by a domestic bank, denominated in the currency of that country. Nostro accounts ...
Trading Center