Encyclopedia of Investment Terminology

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Corporate Debt (Bonds, Debentures, Notes, InterNotes

Marketable debt securities (bonds, debentures, etc.) generally comprise a significant portion of a trust department's assets. The selection of acceptable debt instruments for discretionary accounts should be based on research performed in-house, acquired from outside sources, or a combination of the two. The department may also rely on ratings provided by the nationally recognized rating agencies. The rating bands for three of the rating services are outlined in this section. As seen in recent events, highly rated debt issues can decline into subinvestment quality rating bands or go into default. Therefore, management should monitor investments on an on-going basis to determine that the issue remains suitable for the account. As previously stated, the Prudent Investor Act does not preclude the investment in or continued holdings of subinvestment quality securities. However, speculation is inappropriate for trust accounts.

InterNotes are investment grade, medium-term notes, offered in minimum denominations of $1,000 to retail investors. InterNotes represent the debt of each respective issuer and are subject to credit and secondary market risk. The notes are offered via a prospectus and issues are sold at par value. Each week, new offerings from various corporations are made, and include issues with varying maturities, coupons, and interest payment schedules (monthly, quarterly, semi-annually.) InterNotes appear to have a shelf registration, meaning that the amount offered in the prospectus is registered once, and the issuer can offer amounts under that prospectus as needed.

An example of an InterNote may be the following:

  • $6 billion issue from a corporation under a prospectus dated August 2002.

  • Separate CUSIP numbers are assigned to specific terms, such as maturities, coupons, and call provisions, which represent amounts used under the registration.

  • The offer as stated is valid for a week, and the minimum investment (denomination) and increments are $1,000.

  • The products are rated by nationally recognized rating agencies and the ratings are posted on the InterNotes' website, along with other information concerning terms.

  • Some InterNotes are based on floating rates, indexed to short-term rates.

  • The products are directed at small, retail investors, in lieu of certificates of deposits and may be received in-kind.

    Much of the above information is courtesy of the FDIC.

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