Bond Definition: What Are Bonds?

define stocks and bonds

These fixed-income securities range from bonds to bills to notes. By providing these securities on the bond market, issuers can get the funding they need for projects or other expenses needed. Companies can sell stocks and bonds to investors to raise money for various purposes.

Between issuance and maturity, the bondholder receives regular interest payments. The interest rate is termed the _coupon_ of the bond, expressed as a percentage yield. When you buy a newly issued bond, you are effectively lending money to an entity, such as a company (corporate bond) or the government (treasury bond). However, many stock investors these days don’t even buy individual stocks. Instead, they invest in ETFs or mutual funds that hold a basket of different stocks. Stock investors care about investing in good companies because that means that the stock prices are likely to go up.

Capital gains vs. fixed income

Each of the bonds has a face value of $1,000, meaning XYZ is selling a total of 1,000 bonds. The yield-to-maturity (YTM) of a bond is another way of considering a bond’s price. YTM is the total return anticipated on a bond if the bond is held until the end of its lifetime. Yield to maturity is considered a long-term bond yield but is expressed as an annual rate. In other words, it is the internal rate of return of an investment in a bond if the investor holds the bond until maturity and if all payments are made as scheduled.

Stocks are bought and sold predominantly on stock exchanges and are the foundation of many individual investors’ portfolios. Stock trades have to conform to government regulations meant to protect investors from fraudulent practices. Buying a stock entitles the owner to receive proceeds if the Business is ever sold as well as a proportional share of cash distributions (or ‘Dividends‘). On the other hand, (Corporate) Bonds represent a single unit of a larger piece of Debt that has been lent to a Company. Instead, you receive fixed Interest Payments and repayment of the Bond principal (or ‘Face Value‘) at the end of the Bond’s life. The biggest similarity between stocks and bonds is that both of them are financial securities sold to investors to raise money.

Related Differences

Below are the 22 new stocks in Goldman Sachs’ short-duration basket that should outperform as interest rates remain high. Along with each is its ticker, market capitalization, sector, and sales growth for both 2023 and 2024. Note that the median 2023 and 2024 sales growth for Russell 1000 stocks is 4% and 6%, respectively. A recent paper analyzing the correlation between stock and bond returns going back to 1875 suggests the relationship of the past quarter century is shifting in an uncertain inflationary environment.

In other words, a bond investor does not have to hold a bond all the way through to its maturity date. It is also common for bonds to be repurchased by the borrower if interest rates decline, or if the borrower’s credit has improved, and it can reissue new bonds at a lower cost. Bonds provide a solution by allowing many individual investors to assume the role of the lender. Indeed, public debt markets let thousands of investors each lend a portion of the capital needed. Moreover, markets allow lenders to sell their bonds to other investors or to buy bonds from other individuals—long after the original issuing organization raised capital. Municipal bonds, also called munis, are issued by states, cities, counties and other nonfederal government entities.


Bonds that are not considered investment grade but are not in default are called “high yield” or “junk” bonds. These bonds have a higher risk of default in the future and investors demand a higher coupon payment to compensate them for that risk. Credit ratings for a company and its bonds are generated by credit rating define stocks and bonds agencies like Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch Ratings. The very highest quality bonds are called “investment grade” and include debt issued by the U.S. government and very stable companies, such as many utilities. In simple terms, a bond is loan from an investor to a borrower such as a company or government.

  • To see an example of how prices and yields relate to one another, watch the video below.
  • But, when measured in years, the biggest measure of a stock’s value is the company’s growth of earnings per share.
  • One major difference between the bond and stock markets is that the stock market has central places or exchanges where stocks are bought and sold.
  • Stockholders assume most of the financial risk of investing in a corporation.
  • The biggest risk with investment-grade bonds is inflation and interest rates.

These two investment types can both play important roles in a portfolio — but they work in very distinct ways. September is living up to its infamous reputation as the worst month for stocks. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool’s premium services.