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Definition of Factor

Factor Image 1


A financial institution that buys a firm's accounts receivables and collects the debt.


An agent who buys and sells goods on behalf of others for a commission.

Related Terms:

ADF (annuity discount factor)

the present value of a finite stream of cash flows for every beginning $1 of cash flow.

Amortization factor

The pool factor implied by the scheduled amortization assuming no prepayemts.

Annuity factor

Present value of $1 paid for each of t periods.

annuity factor

Present value of an annuity of $1 per period.

Conversion factors

Rules set by the Chicago Board of Trade for determining the invoice price of each
acceptable deliverable Treasury issue against the Treasury Bond futures contract.

critical success factors (CSF)

any item (such as quality, customer
service, efficiency, cost control, or responsiveness
to change) so important that, without it, the organization
would cease to exist

Factor Image 2

Discount factor

Present value of $1 received at a stated future date.

discount factor

Present value of a $1 future payment.

Factor analysis

A statistical procedure that seeks to explain a certain phenomenon, such as the return on a
common stock, in terms of the behavior of a set of predictive factors.

Factor model

A way of decomposing the factors that influence a security's rate of return into common and
firm-specific influences.

Factor of Production

A resource used to produce a good or service. The main macroeconomic factors of production are capital and labor.

Factor portfolio

A well-diversified portfolio constructed to have a beta of 1.0 on one factor and a beta of
zero on any other factors.


Sale of a firm's accounts receivable to a financial institution known as a factor.


The sale of accounts receivable to a third party, with the third party bearing
the risk of loss if the accounts receivable cannot be collected.


The discounting, or sale at a discount, of receivables on a nonrecourse, notification
basis. The purchaser of the accounts receivable, the factor, assumes full risk of collection and
credit losses, without recourse to the firms discounting the receivables. Customers are notified to
remit directly to the factor.

Factor Image 3


Type of financial service whereby a firm sells or transfers title to its accounts receivable to a factoring company, which then acts as principal, not as agent.

Factory overhead

All the costs incurred during the manufacturing process, minus the
costs of direct labor and materials.

Interest Factor

Numbers found in compound interest and annuity tables. Usually called the FVIF or PVIF.

Limiting factor

The production resource that, as a result of scarce resources, limits the production of goods
or services, i.e. a bottleneck.

Maturity factoring

factoring arrangement that provides collection and insurance of accounts receivable.

Multifactor CAPM

A version of the capital asset pricing model derived by Merton that includes extramarket
sources of risk referred to as factor.

Net benefit to leverage factor

A linear approximation of a factor, T*, that enables one to operationalize the
total impact of leverage on firm value in the capital market imperfections view of capital structure.

Old-line factoring

factoring arrangement that provides collection, insurance, and finance for accounts receivable.

One-factor APT

A special case of the arbitrage pricing theory that is derived from the one-factor model by
using diversification and arbitrage. It shows the expected return on any risky asset is a linear function of a
single factor.

Pool factor

The outstanding principal balance divided by the original principal balance with the result
expressed as a decimal. Pool factors are published monthly by the Bond Buyer newspaper for Ginnie Mae,
Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac(Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation) MBSs.

PPF (periodic perpetuity factor)

a generalization formula invented by Abrams that is the present value of regular but noncontiguous cash flows that have constant growth to perpetuity.

Present value factor

factor used to calculate an estimate of the present value of an amount to be received in
a future period.

Reported factor

The pool factor as reported by the bond buyer for a given amortization period.

Scrap factor

An anticipated loss percentage included in the bill of material and
used to order extra materials for a production run, in anticipation of scrap losses.

Shrinkage factor

The expected loss of some proportion of an item during the
production process, expressed as a percentage.

Single factor model

A model of security returns that acknowledges only one common factor.
See: factor model.

Two-factor model

Black's zero-beta version of the capital asset pricing model.


an increase in units or volume caused by the addition
of material or by factors inherent in the production process


A measure of selection risk (also known as residual risk) of a mutual fund in relation to the market. A
positive alpha is the extra return awarded to the investor for taking a risk, instead of accepting the market
return. For example, an alpha of 0.4 means the fund outperformed the market-based return estimate by 0.4%.
An alpha of -0.6 means a fund's monthly return was 0.6% less than would have been predicted from the
change in the market alone. In a Jensen Index, it is factor to represent the portfolio's performance that
diverges from its beta, representing a measure of the manager's performance.

Circular Flow

Income payments to factors of production are spent to buy output. The receipts from these sales are used to pay factors of production, creating a circular flow of income.

Consumption Function

The relationship between consumption demand and disposable income. More generally, it refers to the relationship between consumption demand and all factors that affect this demand.

Contribution Principle

This is the principle which specifies the factors that must be taken into account when calculating dividends. At Canada Life, the key factors are: interest earnings, mortality, and operating expense.

cost driver

a factor that has a direct cause-effect relationship
to a cost; an activity creating a cost

Cost driver

A factor that directly impacts the incidence of a cost, and which is generally
based on varying levels of activity.

degree of operating leverage

a factor that indicates how a percentage change in sales, from the existing or current
level, will affect company profits; it is calculated as contribution
margin divided by net income; it is equal to (1 - margin of safety percentage)

Discounted cash flow (DCF)

Future cash flows multiplied by discount factors to obtain present values.


A factor that has a direct impact on the incurring of a cost. For example, adding
an employee results in new costs to purchase office equipment for that person;
therefore, additions to headcount are cost driver for office expenses.


a measure of the degree to which tasks were performed
to produce the best yield at the lowest cost from
the resources available; the degree to which a satisfactory
relationship of outputs to inputs occurs

environmental constraint

any limitation on strategy options
caused by external cultural, fiscal, legal/regulatory,
or political situations; a limiting factor that is not under the
direct control of an organization’s management; tend to be
fairly long-run in nature

Expectations hypothesis theories

Theories of the term structure of interest rates which include the pure
expectations theory, the liquidity theory of the term structure, and the preferred habitat theory. These theories
hold that each forward rate equals the expected future interest rate for the relevant period. These three theories
differ, however, on whether other factors also affect forward rates, and how.
Expectations theory of forward exchange rates A theory of foreign exchange rates that holds that the
expected future spot foreign exchange rate t periods in the future equals the current t-period forward exchange

extraordinary gains and losses

No pun intended, but these types of gains
and losses are extraordinarily important to understand. These are nonrecurring,
onetime, unusual, nonoperating gains or losses that are
recorded by a business during the period. The amount of each of these
gains or losses, net of the income tax effect, is reported separately in the
income statement. Net income is reported before and after these gains
and losses. These gains and losses should not be recorded very often, but
in fact many businesses record them every other year or so, causing
much consternation to investors. In addition to evaluating the regular
stream of sales and expenses that produce operating profit, investors
also have to factor into their profit performance analysis the perturbations
of these irregular gains and losses reported by a business.

flexible manufacturing system (FMS)

a production system in which a single factory manufactures numerous variations
of products through the use of computer-controlled
focused factory arrangement
an arrangement in which a
vendor (which may be an external party or an internal corporate
division) agrees to provide a limited number of
products according to specifications or to perform a limited
number of unique services to a company that is typically
operating on a just-in-time system

Force majeure risk

The risk that there will be an interruption of operations for a prolonged period after a
project finance project has been completed due to fire, flood, storm, or some other factor beyond the control
of the project's sponsors.

Forward rate

The future interest rate of a bond inferred from the term
structure, especially from the yield curve of zero-coupon bonds, calculated from
the growth factor of an investment in a zero held until maturity.

fractional interest discount

the combined discounts for lack of control and marketability. g the constant growth rate in cash flows or net income used in the ADF, Gordon model, or present value factor.

Future Value

The amount to which a payment or series of payments will grow by a given future date when compounded by a given interest rate. FVIF future value interest factor.

Implied volatility

For an option, the variance that makes a call option price
equal to the market price. Given the option price, strike price, and other
factors, the Black-Scholes model computes implied volatility.

incremental analysis

a process of evaluating changes that
focuses only on the factors that differ from one course of
action or decision to another

Index model

A model of stock returns using a market index such as the S&P 500 to represent common or
systematic risk factors.

Inflation uncertainty

The fact that future inflation rates are not known. It is a possible contributing factor to
the makeup of the term structure of interest rates.

Inventory Shrinkage

A shortfall between inventory based on actual physical counts and inventory
based on book records. This shortfall may be due to such factors as theft, breakage, loss, or
poor recordkeeping.

key variable

a critical factor that management believes will
be a direct cause of the achievement or nonachievement
of the organizational goals and objectives

linear programming

a method of mathematical programming used to solve a problem that involves an objective function and multiple limiting factors or constraints long-term variable cost a cost that was traditionally viewed as a fixed cost

Manufactured housing securities (MHSs)

Loans on manufactured homes - that is, factory-built or
prefabricated housing, including mobile homes.

Mortgage duration

A modification of standard duration to account for the impact on duration of MBSs of
changes in prepayment speed resulting from changes in interest rates. Two factors are employed: one that
reflects the impact of changes in prepayment speed or price.

Nonsystematic risk

Nonmarket or firm-specific risk factors that can be eliminated by diversification. Also
called unique risk or diversifiable risk. Systematic risk refers to risk factors common to the entire economy.

Okun's Law

Changes in employment give rise to greater-than-proportional changes in output, by a factor of about 2.5.

Operating Expenses

The amount of money the company must spend on overhead, distribution, taxes, underwriting the risk and servicing the policy. It is a factor in calculating premium rates.


any factory or production cost that is indirect to
the product or service; it does not include direct material
or direct labor; any production cost that cannot be directly
traced to the product

Performance attribution analysis

The decomposition of a money manager's performance results to explain
the reasons why those results were achieved. This analysis seeks to answer the following questions: (1) What
were the major sources of added value? (2) Was short-term factor timing statistically significant? (3) Was
market timing statistically significant? And (4), Was security selection statistically significant?

Preferred Rates

As non-smoking rates caused a major reduction in the cost of life insurance in the early 1980's, the emergence of preferred non-smoker rates in 1998 has caused another noteworthy reduction in rates. A growing number of insurance companies are offering better rates which go beyond simply looking at gender or smoking habits. Other health related factors such as physical build, lifestyle, avocation and personal and family health history indicating longer life expectancy can add up to significant cost savings to new life insurance applicants. Make certain to ask about these new preferred rates.

product cost

This is a key factor in the profit model of a business. Product
cost is the same as purchase cost for a retailer or wholesaler (distributor).
A manufacturer has to accumulate three different types of production
costs to determine product cost: direct materials, direct labor, and
manufacturing overhead. The cost of products (goods) sold is deducted
from sales revenue to determine gross margin (also called gross profit),
which is the first profit line reported in an external income statement
and in an internal profit report to managers.

Progress Payments

Periodic payments to a supplier, contractor or subcontractor for work satisfactorily performed to date.


A legal document that must be filed with securities regulators in order to distribute securities, including mutual funds. Mutual fund dealers are required by law to distribute this document to investors before the purchase of any units. It contains all key information, such as investment objectives and strategies, risk factors and financial highlights.

PV (present value of cash flows)

the value in today’s dollars of cash flows that occur in different time periods.
present value factor equal to the formula 1/(1 - r)n, where n is the number of years from the valuation date to the cash flow and r is the discount rate.
For business valuation, n should usually be midyear, i.e., n = 0.5, 1.5, . . .

Restructuring Charges

Costs associated with restructuring activities, including the consolidation and/or relocation of operations or the disposition or abandonment of operations or productive assets.
Such charges may be incurred in connection with a business combination, a change in an enterprise's strategic plan, or a managerial response to declines in demand, increasing costs, or other environmental factors.

Sales forecast

A key input to a firm's financial planning process. External sales forecasts are based on
historical experience, statistical analysis, and consideration of various macroeconomic factors.

Security market line

Line representing the relationship between expected return and market risk.
Security market plane A plane that shows the equilibrium between expected return and the beta coefficient
of more than one factor.
Security selection
See: security selection decision.

Significant Influence

The extent of influence of an investor over the operating and financial
policies of an investee. Typically implied when an investor has a voting interest of between 20%
and 50% of an investee's voting shares. However, can be implied as a result of such factors as
board representation, participation in management, material intercompany transactions, and technological

Single index model

A model of stock returns that decomposes influences on returns into a systematic factor,
as measured by the return on the broad market index, and firm specific factors.

Technical condition of a market

Demand and supply factors affecting price, in particular the net position,
either long or short, of the dealer community.

Tilted portfolio

An indexing strategy that is linked to active management through the emphasis of a
particular industry sector, selected performance factors such as earnings momentum, dividend yield, priceearnings
ratio, or selected economic factors such as interest rates and inflation.

unique risk

Risk factors affecting only that firm. Also called diversifiable risk.

unit-driven expenses

Expenses that vary in close proportion to changes
in total sales volume (total quantities of sales). Examples of these types of
expenses are delivery costs, packaging costs, and other costs that depend
mainly on the number of products sold or the number of customers
served. These expenses are one of the key factors in a profit model for
decision-making analysis. Segregating these expenses from other types
of expenses that behave differently is essential for management decisionmaking
analysis. The cost-of-goods-sold expense depends on sales volume
and is a unit-driven expense. But product cost (i.e., the cost of
goods sold) is such a dominant expense that it is treated separately from
other unit-driven operating expenses.

Weighted average coupon

The weighted average of the gross interest rate of the mortgages underlying the
pool as of the pool issue date, with the balance of each mortgage used as the weighting factor.

Weighted average maturity

The WAM of a MBS is the weighted average of the remaining terms to maturity
of the mortgages underlying the collateral pool at the date of issue, using as the weighting factor the balance
of each of the mortgages as of the issue date.







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