Short-Term Investments

Short-Term Investments

Whenever a company has surplus funds, i.e., funds that are not needed to complete daily transactions, it may choose to invest these funds on a short-term basis to generate extra funds.

These short-term investments usually consist of investments in securities that are very liquid, not very risky, and have short maturities, and may include short-term US government securities, repurchase agreements (repos), commercial papers, and short-term bank CDs.

Computing Yields on Short-Term Investments

The yield on an investment is the actual return on the investment if it is held until maturity.

Three measures of yield that are often quoted are the money market yield, bond equivalent yield, and discount-basis yield.

$$ \text{Money market yield}=\left(\cfrac{\text{Face value}-\text{Purchase price}}{\text{Purchase price}}\right) \left(\cfrac{360}{\text{Number of days to maturity}}\right) $$

$$ \text{Bond equivalent yield}=\left(\cfrac{\text{Face value}-\text{Purchase price}}{\text{Purchase price}}\right) \left(\cfrac{365}{\text{Number of days to maturity}}\right) $$

$$ \text{Discount basis yield}=\left(\cfrac{\text{Face value}-\text{Purchase price}}{\text{Face value}}\right) \left(\cfrac{360}{\text{Number of days to maturity}}\right) $$

Important points to note with these yields are:

  • The money market yield and the bond equivalent yield both use the purchase price as the basis for computing the yield, i.e., the purchase price is in the denominator of the equation, while the discount-basis yield uses the face value as the basis.
  • The money market yield and discount basis yield are both annualized using a ratio of 360 to the number of days to maturity, while the bond equivalent yield is annualized using a ratio of 365 to the number of days to maturity.
  • For discounted securities, i.e., securities such as T-bills and banker’s acceptances which are issued at a discount, the Purchase price = Face value – [(Discount rate) (Period remaining until maturity, in years) (Face value)].
  • For interest-bearing securities, wherein the investor pays the face amount upfront and receives it back plus interest as the proceeds, the purchase price is the face value amount while the Proceeds = Face value + [(Interest rate) (Period remaining until maturity, in years) (Face value)].

Example: Short-term investment yields

A 91-day $1,000,000 US T-bill is sold at a discount rate of 8.34%. Calculate its money market yield and bond equivalent yield.


First, we have to compute the purchase price:

$$ \text{Purchase price} = $1,000,000 – [(0.0834)(91/360)($1,000,000)] = $978,918.33 $$


$$ \text{Money market yield} = [($1,000,000-$978,918.33)/$978,918.33] × [360/91] = 8.52\% $$


$$ \text{Bond equivalent yield} = [($1,000,000-$978,918.33)/$978,918.33] × [365/91] = 8.64\% $$

Comparison of Portfolio Returns against a Standard Benchmark

Investors expect to earn returns on their investments which satisfactorily compensate them for the risks that are being undertaken. In order to determine if the returns earned are satisfactory, they are usually compared against standard benchmarks. The benchmark selected is dependent on the type of investment strategy that is pursued.

There are generally two types of investment strategies – passive strategies and active strategies. Passive strategies should be monitored regularly and investment yields benchmarked against a standard benchmark such as a T-bill that has comparable maturity. Active strategies should have more frequent monitoring. Given that more investment selections are usually included in active strategies, their investment yields should be benchmarked against a portfolio mix that has similar investment characteristics, i.e., maturities, asset type, etc.

Evaluation of Short-term Investment Policy Guidelines

Companies should adopt formal, written policies/guidelines which dictate the investment scope of the company. To be effective, they must not be too lengthy and should provide simple, straightforward, and understandable rules. Each company should customize its investment policy/guideline to fit its particular circumstances. Notwithstanding, there are basic elements that should be included in any investment policy/guideline. These include:

  • Purpose: This indicates why the portfolio exists and also provides general attributes of the portfolio.
  • Authorities: This indicates which executives and managers have authority to make important decisions that can materially affect portfolio returns
  • Limitations and/or restrictions: This provides a general list of investments that may be included in the portfolio.
  • Quality: This refers to acceptable credit ratings as obtained from major credit rating agencies.
  • Other items: This may include other useful information such as a statement that regular reports on portfolio performance should be provided by the investment managers.

A well-written investment policy/guideline should at the very least have the aforementioned components.


What is the bond-equivalent yield for a 91-day US T-bill which has a price of $97,150 per $100,000 face value?

A. 7.36%

B. 8.24%

C. 11.77%


The correct answer is C.

\(\text{Bond equivalent yield} = [($100,000 – $97,150)/$97,150] × 365/91 = 11.77\%\)

Reading 35 LOS 35e:

Calculate and interpret comparable yields on various securities, compare portfolio returns against a standard benchmark, and evaluate a company’s short-term investment policy guidelines

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