Smart Bond Investing—Yield and Return

Figuring Return


If you've held a bond over a long period of time, you might want to calculate its annual percent return, or the percent return divided by the number of years you've held the investment. For instance, a $1,000 bond held over three years with a $145 return has a 14.5 percent return, but a 4.83 percent annual return.


When you calculate your return, you should account for annual inflation. Calculating your real rate of return will give you an idea of the buying power your earnings will have in a given year. You can determine real return by subtracting the inflation rate from your percent return. As an example, an investment with 10 percent return during a year of 3 percent inflation is usually said to have a real return of 7 percent.


To figure total return, start with the value of the bond at maturity (or when you sold it) and add all of your coupon earnings and compounded interest. Subtract from this figure any taxes and any fees or commissions. Then subtract from this amount your original investment amount. This will give you the total amount of your total gain or loss on your bond investment. To figure the return as a percent, divide by the beginning value of your investment and multiply by 100:


Total Return Formula


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    Historical Returns