What Is the Clean Price?
The clean price of a coupon bond refers to the price without the accrued interest between coupon payments. This means that the quoted price on financial news sites is typically the clean. On the other hand, the dirty price of a bond includes the accrued interest between coupon payments.
In fixed-income securities, the clean price of a coupon bond stands as the exclusive valuation, excluding accrued interest payments. This quoted figure, prominently featured on financial news platforms, signifies the bond's value devoid of any accrued interest between scheduled coupon disbursements. Its counterpart, the dirty price, encapsulates the complete financial picture by factoring in accrued interest.
Deciphering Bond Prices
When it comes to bond pricing, there is a difference between clean and dirty prices. The dirty price encompasses accrued interest based on the coupon rate, reflecting the bond's comprehensive value. Meanwhile, the clean price excludes accrued interest and is more prevalent in U.S. markets, while the dirty price finds favor in European quoting practices.
Bond coupons, representing interest payments, follow diverse schedules (semiannual, annual, quarterly, or monthly) depending on the issuer. This temporal variability influences the calculation of clean prices, predominantly quoted as a percentage of the bond's par value or in dollar terms. For instance, a quoted bond at 98 implies a value of 98% of its $1,000 par value, equating to a clean price of $980.
Daily fluctuations in accrued interest characterize the dirty price until the coupon payment date, resetting the accumulated interest to zero post-payout. On this occasion, both the clean and dirty prices align. Referred to as the price plus accrued, the dirty price reflects the total bond value inclusive of accrued interest. Despite clean prices dominating quotations, investors transact at the dirty price unless the bond purchase coincides with the coupon payment date.
Clean Price Example: Apple Inc. Bond Scenario
Consider a hypothetical bond issued by Apple Inc. (AAPL) with a $1,000 face value, currently listed at $960. This bond carries an annual coupon rate of 4%, disbursed semiannually at $20 intervals. Investors holding the bond receive $20 every six months.
The clean price stands at $960, yet the quoted price to investors incorporates accrued interest. The broker calculates daily interest accrual, adding it to the clean price, resulting in the dynamic all-in or dirty price. The dirty price fluctuates based on the days that have elapsed since the last coupon payment, with interest accumulating immediately post-payment.
Examining two scenarios within our Apple example:
- Should an investor acquire the bond a day before the initial $20 coupon payment, approximately $19.90 of accrued interest accrues. Consequently, the investor's bond price becomes $979.90, comprising the $960 clean price and $19.90 in accrued interest.
- If the bond is purchased on the coupon payment date, aligning with the recent interest payout, the $960 clean price becomes the equivalent dirty price for the bond.
Post-coupon payment, the bond resets to the clean price, achieving parity between the dirty and clean prices. Subsequently, interest accrues until the subsequent coupon payment.
Understanding the clean and dirty price distinction is crucial for bond valuation. The clean price, quoted on financial platforms, excludes accrued interest, while the dirty price factors it in for a comprehensive view. Investors usually transact at the dirty price, except on coupon payment dates.