What Is a Convertible Bond?

What Is a Convertible Bond?

5 Min.

A convertible bond is a type of financial security that pays fixed-interest payments, but it can also be converted into a predetermined number of common stock shares. The conversion from the bond to stock occurs at specific times during the bond's life, and it is typically at the discretion of the bondholder. By investing in a convertible bond, investors can enjoy the benefits of both a bond, such as interest payments, and the option to own the underlying stock. This makes convertible bonds a hybrid security that can be a great option for many investors.


Convertible bonds represent a distinctive class of fixed-income securities issued by corporations. These financial instruments generate interest income for investors and possess a unique feature: the potential to convert into a predetermined quantity of common stock or equity shares. The conversion option is exercisable at specific intervals throughout the bond's duration, subject to the bondholder's discretion. Functioning as a hybrid security, the value of convertible bonds exhibits heightened responsiveness to fluctuations in interest rates, the underlying stock's market value, and the credit rating of the issuing entity.

Exploring Convertible Bonds: Features and Dynamics

Convertible bonds serve as a versatile financial resource for corporations. Functioning as a hybrid security, these bonds combine bond-like attributes, such as interest payments, with the opportunity for equity ownership. The conversion ratio dictates the number of shares obtained by converting one bond, denoted as a ratio like 5:1, implying the conversion of one bond into five common stock shares.

The conversion price, crucial in transforming convertible securities into common stock, is established alongside the conversion ratio. This pivotal price per share is determined during the conversion ratio specification for convertible securities, including corporate bonds or preferred shares. Details regarding the conversion price and ratio are outlined in the bond indenture for convertible bonds or the security prospectus for convertible preferred shares.

Among the variations of convertible bonds is the "death spiral debt" category. In this iteration, the bond converts into a fixed dollar value paid in shares. Investors holding this convertible instrument may swiftly convert their holdings if the stock price experiences a substantial decline. This conversion activity can potentially dilute shares, contributing to a further descent in the stock price.

Convertible Bonds: Diverse Forms and Strategic Considerations

Within the realm of convertible bonds, there exists a spectrum of options catering to investor preferences. The conventional convertible bond empowers investors with the flexibility to choose between holding the bond until maturity or converting it into stock. In instances of a stock price decline since the bond's issuance, holding until maturity ensures the investor receives the face value. Conversely, if the stock price appreciates significantly, conversion allows the investor to own or sell the stock at their discretion. Ideally, conversion is favorable when the stock sale's gain surpasses the bond's face value and remaining interest payments.

Distinctly, mandatory convertible bonds compel investors to convert at predetermined ratios and price levels. Conversely, reversible convertible bonds grant companies the authority to convert the bond to equity shares or maintain it as a fixed-income investment until maturity. In cases of conversion, a predetermined price and ratio guide the process.

Convertible Bonds: Advantages and Drawbacks

The strategic issuance of convertible bonds serves as a tool for companies to mitigate adverse investor reactions associated with equity offerings. The conventional route of issuing additional equity tends to amplify the number of outstanding shares, causing dilution of existing investor ownership. To sidestep negative sentiments, companies may opt for convertible bonds, allowing bondholders the flexibility to convert into equity shares in the event of favorable company performance.

Moreover, convertible bonds offer investors protection in the face of potential default. While safeguarding the investors' principal investment in downturn scenarios, these instruments also enable participation in the company's success during upturns.

Consider a startup requiring substantial capital for a project that may initially yield losses but promises future profitability. Convertible bondholders can recoup part of their investment in case of company failure while also standing to gain from capital appreciation by converting the bonds into equity in case of success.

Convertible bonds blend a bond structure with a call option, granting the right to purchase stock at a predetermined price within a specific timeframe. Despite this added value, convertible bonds often entail a trade-off, presenting a lower coupon rate or rate of return compared to traditional fixed-income instruments.

Companies, on the other hand, benefit from the ability to secure debt at lower interest rates than traditional bond offerings, yet not all opt for convertible bonds due to their perceived risk and volatility compared to typical fixed-income instruments.


  • Investors receive fixed-rate interest payments with the option to convert, capitalizing on stock price appreciation.
  • Investors gain default risk protection, prioritizing bondholders in case of financial distress.
  • Companies raise capital without immediate share dilution.
  • Companies may secure debt at lower interest rates than traditional bonds.


  • Lower coupon rates accompany the option to convert into common stock.
  • Startups or companies with limited earnings pose additional risks for convertible bond investors.
  • Share dilution may occur upon conversion, impacting share price and earnings per share dynamics.

Convertible Bond Example

Consider Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) issuing a convertible bond with a $1,000 face value, carrying a 4% interest rate, and maturing in a decade. Each convertible bond holds a convertible ratio of 100 shares.

If held until maturity, the investor receives $1,000 principal and $40 in interest. However, if the company's shares surge to $11 each, the 100 shares from converting the bond amount to $1,100 (100 shares x $11 share price), surpassing the bond's value. The investor may opt to convert, obtaining 100 shares valued at $1,100 in total. Convertible bond arbitrage, a trading strategy, seeks to exploit mispricing between the convertible bond and its underlying stock.


Convertible bonds offer a unique blend of fixed-interest payments and the option to convert into common stock, appealing to investors. Their versatility is evident in various forms and strategic considerations, providing companies and investors with flexibility. While convertible bonds offer advantages like capital flexibility and default risk protection, they come with trade-offs, including lower coupon rates and potential share dilution. 

Convertible Bond