###### Dividend Payment Chronology

Dividend chronology describes the timeline for a series of events that take place... **Read More**

In many markets, traders can borrow securities through margin loans at the cost of paying the call money rate on the loan. Similar to a down payment on a house, the borrower must put up a minimum of their own equity, the initial margin requirement, in the purchase. To protect brokers against losses in leveraged positions, traders must keep an amount of equity in their positions that is greater than or equal to the maintenance margin requirement (usually 25%). If share prices fall and equity drops below the maintenance margin requirement, the trader will receive a margin call to restore equity back to the required level. If additional equity is not contributed, the broker will close out the position to prevent further losses.

The leverage ratio measures how much larger a position is compared to the equity investment supporting it, showing the proportion of borrowed funds used to finance the position.

The maximum leverage ratio calculates financial leverage if the trader’s equity position is equal to the initial margin requirement.

$$ \text{Leverage ratio} = \frac{ \text{Total value of the position}}{ \text{Equity value of the position}} $$

$$ \text{Maximum leverage ratio} = \frac{1}{ \text{Minimum margin requirement}} $$

Calculating the rate of return on a margin transaction is the same as calculating the rate of return on an unlevered transaction; it simply involves one extra step to calculate and subtract out the margin interest paid. The rate of return should be calculated based on the initial equity investment, not the total purchase price of assets. Upfront costs such as commission should be included in the initial equity amount.

A trader purchases $100,000 worth of a highly volatile stock at a leverage ratio of 2.5, receives a special dividend of $800 after six months, and sells the stock exactly one year after purchase at $200,000. The commission is $10 at purchase. The trader is charged 8% interest on the borrowed money.

To get the rate of return, we just have to find the profit (or loss) and divide it by the initial equity investment.

Let’s first calculate the amount of money the trader had to borrow in order to make this transaction.

We can find the equity investment by dividing the full $100,000 purchase by the leverage ratio of 2.5.

$$ \text{Equity investment} = \frac{$100,000}{2.5} = $40,000 $$

And the remainder has to be borrowed:

$$ \text{Borrowed amount} = $100,000 – $40,000 = $60,000 $$

The amount that the trader will have to pay in interest over one year is the interest rate on the loan multiplied by the loan amount:

$$ \text{Interest paid} = $60,000 × 8\% = $4,800 $$

Moving on to the profit calculation:

$$

\begin{array}{lr}

\text{Sale Price} & $200,000 \\

\text{Purchase Price} & -$100,000 \\

\text{Realized Gain (Loss)} & $100,000 \\

\text{Purchase commission} & -$10 \\

\text{Dividend} & $800 \\

\text{Margin interest} & -$4,800 \\

\text{Sale commission} & -$10 \\

\text{Return} & $95,980 \\

\end{array}

$$

To find the total initial equity investment, just take the $40,000 calculated above and tack on the small commission on purchase of $10:

$$ \text{Equity investment plus commission} = $40,000 + $10 = $40,010 $$

Finally, we can calculate the rate of return on this trade:

$$ \text{Rate of return} = \frac{$95,980}{$40,010} = 239.89\% $$

A margin call will take place when equity drops below the maintenance margin requirement. After the purchase of a security on margin, any changes in that security’s price will be reflected completely in equity. There is a simple formula that can be used to find the margin call price:

$$ \text{Margin call price} = \frac{ \text{Debt}}{1- \text{Maintenance Margin}} $$

You have been provided the following information:

- Purchase price per share: $30
- Leverage ratio: 2.0
- Maintenance margin: 25%

Remember, the equity investment can be found by dividing the total purchase price by the leverage ratio:

$$ \text{Equity investment} = \frac{$30}{2} = $15 $$

So, this trade involves $15 of equity and $15 of debt, and we need to find at what price a margin call would take place:

$$ \text{Margin call price} = \frac{$15}{1-0.25} = \frac{$15}{0.75} = $20 $$

QuestionWhat is a trader’s maximum leverage ratio, given an initial margin requirement of 40%?

- 1.00
- 2.50
- 4.00

SolutionThe correct answer is

B.As shown above, the maximum leverage ratio is equal to 1 divided by the minimum margin requirement.

\( \text{Maximum leverage ratio} = \frac{1}{0.4} = 2.5 \)