Bonds with Embedded Options

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Written By
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Written By
Dan Buckley
Dan Buckley is an US-based trader, consultant, and part-time writer with a background in macroeconomics and mathematical finance. He trades and writes about a variety of asset classes, including equities, fixed income, commodities, currencies, and interest rates. As a writer, his goal is to explain trading and finance concepts in levels of detail that could appeal to a range of audiences, from novice traders to those with more experienced backgrounds.

An embedded option is a feature that can be attached to bonds that allows, but does not require, either the bondholder or the issuer to take some action in the future.

It gives one party the right, but not the obligation, to undertake certain actions that may be advantageous given market conditions.


Key Takeaways – Bonds with Embedded Options

  • Embedded options provide the right, but not the obligation, to take specific actions in the future related to a bond, benefiting either the bondholder or the issuer based on market conditions.
  • Callable bonds allow issuers to repay bonds before maturity when interest rates drop, managing interest rate risk and taking advantage of lower rates.
  • Valuing bonds with embedded options involves more complex calculations, often using methods like the lattice model.
  • Measures like option-adjusted spread, effective duration, and effective convexity are used to assess potential performance and risk.


Callable Bonds

A callable bond is a type of bond that includes an embedded option allowing the issuer the right to repay the bond before its maturity date.

This is typically done when interest rates drop, allowing the issuer to repay the high-interest-rate bond with funds from a new, lower-interest-rate bond.

This feature gives the issuer flexibility in managing their interest rate risk.


Valuation of Bonds with Embedded Options

Valuing bonds with embedded options can be complex because they depend not only on the characteristics of the bond itself, but also on the likelihood and impact of the embedded option being exercised.

Pull to Par

The “pull to par” principle is a concept in bond valuation.

As a bond approaches its maturity date, the market price will tend toward its par value, regardless of what the price was at issuance or what has happened in the meantime.

This is because at maturity, the bondholder will receive the face value of the bond, and so as this date approaches, the bond’s price will “pull” toward this face value.

When a bond contains an embedded option, however, this pull to par may be disrupted, adding a layer of complexity to its valuation.

Lattice Model

The lattice model is a commonly used method for valuing bonds with embedded options.

This model involves constructing a binomial interest rate tree that shows possible future interest rate paths.

The bond’s cash flows are then calculated under each potential scenario, taking into account the possibility of the option being exercised.

The present value of these cash flows provides an estimate of the bond’s value.


Results of Valuation: Understanding the Measures

The valuation of a bond with embedded options often results in key measures that help investors understand the bond’s potential performance.

These include the option-adjusted spread, effective duration, and effective convexity.

Option-Adjusted Spread

The option-adjusted spread (OAS) is a measure of the yield spread of a bond that includes an embedded option, adjusted to take into account the potential impact of the option.

The OAS reflects the extra yield that an investor requires for taking on the additional unknowns associated with the option.

This measure helps to compare the relative value of different bonds, including those with and without embedded options.

Effective Duration

Effective duration is a measure of the sensitivity of a bond’s price to changes in interest rates.

It takes into account both the likely change in a bond’s price given a change in interest rates and the likelihood of the embedded option being exercised.

Effective duration is a key measure for bond traders/investors, as it helps them assess the level of interest rate risk associated with a bond.

Effective Convexity

Effective convexity is a measure of the curvature of the relationship between bond prices and interest rates.

It helps to quantify how much the bond’s price will change for a given change in interest rates, and how this change will itself change if interest rates move again.

Like effective duration, effective convexity takes into account the impact of the embedded option, adding an extra dimension to the assessment of a bond’s interest rate risk.


How to Calculate the Value of a Callable Bond

Here’s a step-by-step process for valuing a callable bond:

1. Calculate the Present Value (PV) of the Bond’s Future Cash Flows:

a. Calculate the PV of the bond’s coupon payments:

For each coupon payment, use the formula:


PV (coupon) = C / (1 + r)^t



  • = Coupon payment
  • = Discount rate (usually the yield to maturity)
  • = Number of periods until the coupon payment

b. Calculate the PV of the bond’s face value:



PV (face) = F / (1 + r)^T


  • = Face value of the bond
  • = Total number of periods until maturity

2. Calculate the Present Value (PV) of the Call Price:

If the bond is called, the issuer will pay the bondholder a call price, which is usually at a premium to the bond’s face value.

Calculate the PV of this call price using:


PV (call) = Pcall / (1 + r)^C



  • = Call price
  • = Number of periods until the bond can be called

3. Determine the Value of the Callable Bond:

The value of the callable bond is the minimum of the PV of the bond’s future cash flows and the PV of the call price:


Vcallable = min(PVcashflows,PVcall)


4. Adjust for Any Additional Features:

Some callable bonds may have additional features, such as put provisions, which allow the bondholder to sell the bond back to the issuer at a specified price.

If the bond has such features, adjust the bond’s value accordingly.

5. Compare with Other Investment Opportunities:

Once you have the value of the callable bond, compare it with the values of other investment opportunities to determine if it’s a good investment.


The valuation of callable bonds can be more complex in practice, especially when considering changes in interest rates and other market conditions.

Advanced models, such as the binomial tree model or the Black-Derman-Toy model, can be used to value callable bonds in a more dynamic interest rate environment.


FAQs – Bonds with Embedded Options

What Are Bonds with Embedded Options?

Bonds with embedded options are financial instruments that combine a traditional bond structure with an option-like feature.

This additional feature, which could be a call option, put option, or a combination of these, gives either the bond issuer or holder the right but not the obligation to take some action at a predetermined time or under specified conditions.

The holder or issuer can exercise these options, influencing the bond’s yield, price, and cash flows.

What Are Some Examples of Bonds with Embedded Options?

There are various types of bonds with embedded options. Some of the most common ones include callable bonds and putable bonds.

Callable bonds give the issuer the right to pay off the bond before the maturity date.

This is often done when interest rates fall, and the issuer can refinance at a lower rate.

Putable bonds, on the other hand, allow the bondholder the right to sell the bond back to the issuer at a predetermined price before maturity.

This is often exercised when interest rates rise, and the bondholder can then reinvest at a higher rate.

How Do Embedded Options Affect the Pricing of Bonds?

The pricing of bonds with embedded options is usually more complex than that of plain vanilla bonds.

This is because the embedded option’s value needs to be taken into account, which is influenced by factors such as interest rate volatility and the likelihood of the option being exercised.

For example, a callable bond would typically be priced lower than an otherwise identical bond without the call option because the call feature benefits the issuer at the expense of the bondholder.

What Is the Impact of Embedded Options on Bond Duration?

Embedded options can significantly affect a bond’s duration.

Duration is a measure of the sensitivity of the bond’s price to changes in interest rates.

Callable bonds tend to have shorter durations because when interest rates fall, there’s a higher likelihood the issuer will call the bond, effectively shortening its maturity.

Conversely, putable bonds have longer durations when interest rates rise, as the bondholder is more likely to exercise their right to sell the bond back to the issuer, thus extending its maturity.

What Are the Risks associated with Bonds with Embedded Options?

The primary risk associated with bonds with embedded options comes from interest rate volatility.

In the case of a callable bond, if interest rates fall, the issuer is likely to call the bond, leaving the investor to reinvest in a lower interest rate environment.

On the other hand, with putable bonds, if interest rates rise, the bondholder will put the bond back to the issuer, who then has to pay the principal back early and likely have to reissue debt at a higher interest rate.

How Are Bonds with Embedded Options accounted for?

In terms of accounting, bonds with embedded options must be accounted for as derivative securities if the embedded option can be separated from the bond or if the option’s economic characteristics and risks are not clearly and closely related to the bond’s economic characteristics and risks.

This means they need to be reported at fair value on the balance sheet.

How Can I Invest in Bonds with Embedded Options?

Investing in bonds with embedded options involves purchasing the bond through a broker or a financial institution.

However, traders/investors should thoroughly understand the terms and conditions of the bond, including the nature of the embedded option, and consider seeking the advice of a financial advisor.

How Are Bonds with Embedded Options Taxed?

The taxation of bonds with embedded options is generally the same as for other types of bonds.

Interest income is typically taxed as ordinary income, and if the bond is sold for more than the purchase price, the gain is taxed as a capital gain.

However, tax laws can vary by jurisdiction and specific circumstances, so it’s always a good idea to consult with a tax professional.



Bonds with embedded options present unique opportunities and challenges for traders/investors.

Their valuation requires more sophisticated models than traditional bonds. And they require an understanding of key measures such as the option-adjusted spread, effective duration, and effective convexity.

Despite the complexity, these bonds can be valuable components of a diversified investment portfolio, offering potentially higher yields and greater flexibility in response to changing market conditions.