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Par is a financial term that refers to the face value or nominal value of a financial instrument, such as a bond or stock. It is the initial price at which the instrument is originally issued and is typically set at $100 or $1,000 for bonds. The term is used to denote the point at which the financial instrument is neither at a premium nor a discount, meaning it is trading at its original face value.


The phonetic transcription of the keyword “Par” is /pɑr/ in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).

Key Takeaways

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Par is an essential term in business and finance as it signifies the face value or the nominal value of financial instruments, such as bonds and stocks. Understanding par value is crucial since it serves as a reference point for determining bond prices, calculating coupon payments, assessing market value and investors’ return on investment. Moreover, par plays a significant role in the corporate world when issuing shares during an initial public offering (IPO), as it can impact the shares’ capital structure of a company and their valuation. As a result, par value’s significance lies in its ability to facilitate financial analysis and decision-making for both investors and corporations.


The concept of par serves a vital purpose in the realm of finance and business, particularly in connection with bonds and stocks. Par is a benchmark value referring to the initial face value or original issue price of a financial instrument such as a bond or a stock. In the context of bonds, the par value represents the amount that will be paid to the bondholder upon maturity. Likewise, for stocks, the par value is the minimum price at which a company may issue new shares to their investors. Establishing a par value can help ensure that a bond or stock is not undersold, providing a baseline value that underpins the security’s worth. Moreover, par plays an instrumental role in the calculation of certain financial metrics and in shaping investors’ decision-making processes. In the case of bonds, the market price deviating from the par value can indicate changes in interest rates, credit quality, or market conditions. If a bond is trading above par, or at a premium, it may suggest that its current yield is lower than the prevailing market rate, whereas trading below par, or at a discount, may signify a higher yield. This information allows investors to gauge the relative attractiveness of a particular bond offering and make informed investment decisions. Similarly, for stocks, par value influences the calculation of key ratios such as price-to-book and price-to-earnings, which investors use to evaluate the valuation and potential growth prospects of a stock.


1. Par Value of Bonds: Corporation X issues a 10-year bond with a par value of $1,000 and a 5% annual coupon rate. The bond, when first issued, will pay interest of $50 annually to its bondholders, since the par value is the principal amount that will be paid back upon maturity. As long as Corporation X meets its obligation, the bond will trade close to its par value in the bond market. 2. Par Value of Preferred Shares: Company ABC issues preferred shares with a par value of $100 per share and an 8% dividend (fixed) rate. This means each preferred share will receive an annual dividend of $8 ($100 multiplied by 8%), regardless of the company’s financial performance. Throughout the life of these preferred shares, they will tend to trade around $100, assuming the company remains in good financial standing and there’s no significant change in market conditions. 3. Par Value of Foreign Exchange Rates: In managing their currencies, central banks might peg their currencies’ value at a specific level or range relative to another currency. For example, if Country X decides to maintain its currency value (Currency A) at par with Currency B, it means that a 1-to-1 exchange rate will be maintained. If the market forces cause Currency A to appreciate or depreciate against Currency B, the central bank would intervene to bring the exchange rate back to par.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What does the term “Par” mean in finance and business?
Par is a term used to describe the face value or principal amount of a financial instrument, such as a bond or a preferred stock. It is the amount that the issuer agrees to pay the investor upon the maturity of the bond or the redemption of the preferred stock.
How is par value determined?
The par value of a financial instrument is typically established by the issuing company or government at the time of issuance. It is an arbitrary figure most often set at $100 or $1,000 for corporate bonds and $1 for stocks.
Why is par value important?
Par value is important because it serves as a reference point for calculating interest or dividend payments. It also represents the amount the issuer has to pay back to the bondholder upon maturity or the redemption of the stock. Par is also used to compare the market value of an instrument with its face value to determine if it’s trading above, at, or below par.
What does it mean when a bond or stock is trading at par?
Trading at par means the market value of the financial instrument (bond or stock) is equal to its face value or principal amount. For example, if a bond has a par value of $1,000 and is currently trading at $1,000, it is said to be trading at par.
How do you calculate the yield to maturity (YTM) on a bond trading at par?
When a bond is trading at par, its yield to maturity (YTM) is equal to the bond’s coupon rate. The YTM takes into consideration the bond’s interest payments, the principal repayment at maturity, and the time remaining until the bond’s maturity.
What causes a bond to trade above or below par?
A bond may trade above or below par due to various factors such as changes in market interest rates, the issuing company’s credit rating, and overall market conditions. If the market interest rates are lower than the bond’s coupon rate, the bond typically trades above par as investors are willing to pay a premium to receive higher interest payments. Conversely, if the market interest rates are higher than the bond’s coupon rate, the bond usually trades below par since investors seek higher interest from other investment opportunities.

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