A bond is a fixed income investment in which an investor loans money to an entity (typically corporate or governmental) which borrows the funds for a defined period of time at a variable or fixed interest rate. Bonds are used by companies, municipalities, states and sovereign governments to raise money and finance a variety of projects and activities. Owners of bonds are debt holders, or creditors, of the issuer.
Investment grade issuer credit ratings are those that are above BBB- or Baa. The exact ratings depend on the credit rating agency.
For Standard & Poor’s, investment grade credit ratings include. AAA, AA+, AA, and AA-. Companies that have credit ratings in this category have a very high capacity to repay their loans, with AAA rated companies having the highest capacity to repay.
The next category down includes companies with A+, A, and A- ratings. These are companies that have a strong capacity to repay their financial commitments. These companies are currently stable and easily able to repay their debts, but could face challenges if economic conditions deteriorate. The bottom tier of investment grade credit ratings includes BBB+, BBB, and BBB-. These companies are considered “speculative grade” and are vulnerable to changing economic conditions and could face big challenges if economic conditions decline. When rated, however, these companies have demonstrated both the capacity and capability to meet their debt payment obligations.
A debenture is a type of debt instrument that is not secured by physical assets or collateral. Debentures are backed only by the general creditworthiness and reputation of the issuer. Both corporations and governments frequently issue this type of bond to secure capital. Like other types of bonds, debentures are documented in an indenture.