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Definition of Security

Security Image 1


Piece of paper that proves ownership of stocks, bonds and other investments.


Either the collateral on a loan, or some type of equity ownership or debt, such
as a stock option or note payable.


A share or an interest in a property or an enterprise such as a stock certificate or a bond.


Collateral offered by a borrower to a lender to secure a loan.

Related Terms:

Asset-backed security

A security that is collateralized by loans, leases, receivables, or installment contracts
on personal property, not real estate.

Convertible security

A security that can be converted into common stock at the option of the security holder,
including convertible bonds and convertible preferred stock.

Derivative security

A financial security, such as an option, or future, whose value is derived in part from the
value and characteristics of another security, the underlying security.

Exchangeable Security

security that grants the security holder the right to exchange the security for the
common stock of a firm other than the issuer of the security.

Security Image 2

Fixed-dollar security

A nonnegotiable debt security that can be redeemed at some fixed price or according to
some schedule of fixed values, e.g., bank deposits and government savings bonds.

Host security

The security to which a warrant is attached.

Hybrid security

A convertible security whose optioned common stock is trading in a middle range, causing
the convertible security to trade with the characteristics of both a fixed-income security and a common stock

Monthly income preferred security (MIP)

Preferred stock issued by a subsidiary located in a tax haven.
The subsidiary relends the money to the parent.

Mortgage pass-through security

Also called a passthrough, a security created when one or more mortgage
holders form a collection (pool) of mortgages sells shares or participation certificates in the pool. The cash
flow from the collateral pool is "passed through" to the security holder as monthly payments of principal,
interest, and prepayments. This is the predominant type of MBS traded in the secondary market.

Primitive security

An instrument such as a stock or bond for which payments depend only on the financial
status of the issuer.

Security characteristic line

A plot of the excess return on a security over the risk-free rate as a function of
the excess return on the market.

Security deposit (initial)

Synonymous with the term margin. A cash amount of funds that must be deposited
with the broker for each contract as a guarantee of fulfillment of the futures contract. It is not considered as
part payment or purchase. Related: margin

Security deposit (maintenance)

Related: Maintenance margin security market line (SML). A description of
the risk return relationship for individual securities, expressed in a form similar to the capital market line.

Security Image 3

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.

Security selection decision

Choosing the particular securities to include in a portfolio.

Underlying security

Options: the security subject to being purchased or sold upon exercise of an option
contract. For example, IBM stock is the underlying security to IBM options. Depository receipts: The class,
series and number of the foreign shares represented by the depository receipt.

Variable price security

A security, such as stocks or bonds, that sells at a fluctuating, market-determined price.

Security Market Line

A graph illustrating the equilibrium relationship between the
expected rate of return on securities and their risk as measured by
the beta coefficient

Fixed-income security

A security that pays a specified cash flow over a
specific period. Bonds are typical fixed-income securities.

Marketable security

An easily traded investment, such as treasury bills, which is
recorded as a current asset, since it is easily convertible into cash.

floating-rate security

security paying dividends or interest that vary with short-term interest rates.

security market line

Relationship between expected return and beta.

Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA)

A federal Act that sets minimum operational and funding standards for employee benefit

Social Security Act of 1935

A federal Act establishing Old Age and Survivor’s
Insurance, which was funded by compulsory savings by wage earners.

Security Image 4

Available-for-Sale Security

A debt or equity security not classified as a held-to-maturity security or a trading security. Can be classified as a current or noncurrent investment depending on the intended holding period.

Debt Security

A security representing a debt relationship with an enterprise, including a government
security, municipal security, corporate bond, convertible debt issue, and commercial

Equity Security

An ownership interest in an enterprise, including preferred and common stock.

Held-to-Maturity Security

A debt security for which the investing entity has both the positive
intent and the ability to hold until maturity.

Nonmarketable Security

A debt or equity security for which there is no posted price or bidand-
ask quotation available on a securities exchange or over-the-counter market.

Trading Security

A debt or equity security bought and held for sale in the near term to generate income on short-term price changes.

Security Value

The monetary value placed on security by a lender in determining the extent to which it can make loans against such security.

All-or-none underwriting

An arrangement whereby a security issue is canceled if the underwriter is unable
to re-sell the entire issue.


The simultaneous buying and selling of a security at two different prices in two different markets,
resulting in profits without risk. Perfectly efficient markets present no arbitrage opportunities. Perfectly
efficient markets seldom exist.

Ask price

A dealer's price to sell a security; also called the offer price.


The receipt of an exercise notice by an options writer that requires the writer to sell (in the case
of a call) or purchase (in the case of a put) the underlying security at the specified strike price.


An option is at-the-money if the strike price of the option is equal to the market price of the
underlying security. For example, if xyz stock is trading at 54, then the xyz 54 option is at-the-money.


1) When bond yields and prices fall, the market is said to back-up.
2) When an investor swaps out of one security into another of shorter current maturity he is said to back up.


Regarding a futures contract, the difference between the cash price and the futures price observed in the
market. Also, it is the price an investor pays for a security plus any out-of-pocket expenses. It is used to
determine capital gains or losses for tax purposes when the stock is sold.

Benchmark interest rate

Also called the base interest rate, it is the minimum interest rate investors will
demand for investing in a non-Treasury security. It is also tied to the yield to maturity offered on a
comparable-maturity Treasury security that was most recently issued ("on-the-run").

Bid price

This is the quoted bid, or the highest price an investor is willing to pay to buy a security. Practically
speaking, this is the available price at which an investor can sell shares of stock. Related: Ask , offer.


A firm or person that wants to buy a firm or security.

Bond value

With respect to convertible bonds, the value the security would have if it were not convertible
apart from the conversion option.

Bought deal

security issue where one or two underwriters buy the entire issue.


A rise in a security's price above a resistance level (commonly its previous high price) or drop
below a level of support (commonly the former lowest price.) A breakout is taken to signify a continuing
move in the same direction. Can be used by technical analysts as a buy or sell indicator.

Bubble theory

security prices sometimes move wildly above their true values.

Bull-bear bond

Bond whose principal repayment is linked to the price of another security. The bonds are
issued in two tranches: in the first tranche repayment increases with the price of the other security, and in the
second tranche repayment decreases with the price of the other security.

Buy limit order

A conditional trading order that indicates a security may be purchased only at the designated
price or lower.
Related: Sell limit order.


A financial security such as a bond with a call option attached to it, i.e., the issuer has the right to
call the security.

Capital asset pricing model (CAPM)

An economic theory that describes the relationship between risk and
expected return, and serves as a model for the pricing of risky securities. The CAPM asserts that the only risk
that is priced by rational investors is systematic risk, because that risk cannot be eliminated by diversification.
The CAPM says that the expected return of a security or a portfolio is equal to the rate on a risk-free security
plus a risk premium.

Capital loss

The difference between the net cost of a security and the net sale price, if that security is sold at a loss.

Cash and carry

Purchase of a security and simultaneous sale of a future, with the balance being financed
with a loan or repo.

Cash equivalent

A short-term security that is sufficiently liquid that it may be considered the financial
equivalent of cash.

Cash markets

Also called spot markets, these are markets that involve the immediate delivery of a security
or instrument.
Related: derivative markets.

Characteristic line

The market model applied to a single security. The slope of the line is a security's beta.

Cheapest to deliver issue

The acceptable Treasury security with the highest implied repo rate; the rate that a
seller of a futures contract can earn by buying an issue and then delivering it at the settlement date.

Collateral trust bonds

A bond in which the issuer (often a holding company) grants investors a lien on
stocks, notes, bonds, or other financial asset as security. Compare mortgage bond.

Collateralized mortgage obligation (CMO)

A security backed by a pool of pass-throughs , structured so that
there are several classes of bondholders with varying maturities, called tranches. The principal payments from
the underlying pool of pass-through securities are used to retire the bonds on a priority basis as specified in
the prospectus.
Related: mortgage pass-through security

Collective wisdom

The combination of all of the individual opinions about a stock's or security's value.

Common stock

These are securities that represent equity ownership in a company. Common shares let an
investor vote on such matters as the election of directors. They also give the holder a share in a company's
profits via dividend payments or the capital appreciation of the security.

Common stock equivalent

A convertible security that is traded like an equity issue because the optioned
common stock is trading high.

Complete capital market

A market in which there is a distinct marketable security for each and every
possible outcome.

Conventional pass-throughs

Also called private-label pass-throughs, any mortgage pass-through security not
guaranteed by government agencies. Compare agency pass-throughs.

Conversion premium

The percentage by which the conversion price in a convertible security exceeds the
prevailing common stock price at the time the convertible security is issued.

Convertible price

The contractually specified price per share at which a convertible security can be
converted into shares of common stock.

Conversion ratio

The number of shares of common stock that the security holder will receive from
exercising the call option of a convertible security.

Conversion value

Also called parity value, the value of a convertible security if it is converted immediately.


An entity that stands ready and willing to buy a security for its own account (at its bid price) or sell
from its own account (at its ask price).


Failure to make timely payment of interest or principal on a debt security or to otherwise comply
with the provisions of a bond indenture.

Dollar roll

Similar to the reverse repurchase agreement - a simultaneous agreement to sell a security held in a
portfolio with purchase of a similar security at a future date at an agreed-upon price.


A classic negative change in ratings for a stock, and or other rated security.

Effective annual yield

Annualized interest rate on a security computed using compound interest techniques.

Efficient Market Hypothesis

In general the hypothesis states that all relevant information is fully and
immediately reflected in a security's market price thereby assuming that an investor will obtain an equilibrium
rate of return. In other words, an investor should not expect to earn an abnormal return (above the market
return) through either technical analysis or fundamental analysis. Three forms of efficient market hypothesis
exist: weak form (stock prices reflect all information of past prices), semi-strong form (stock prices reflect all
publicly available information) and strong form (stock prices reflect all relevant information including insider

Embedded option

An option that is part of the structure of a bond that provides either the bondholder or
issuer the right to take some action against the other party, as opposed to a bare option, which trades
separately from any underlying security.

Equivalent bond yield

Annual yield on a short-term, non-interest bearing security calculated so as to be
comparable to yields quoted on coupon securities.

Exchange offer

An offer by the firm to give one security, such as a bond or preferred stock, in exchange for
another security, such as shares of common stock.

Execution costs

The difference between the execution price of a security and the price that would have
existed in the absence of a trade, which can be further divided into market impact costs and market timing


To implement the right of the holder of an option to buy (in the case of a call) or sell (in the case of
a put) the underlying security.

Expected return-beta relationship

Implication of the CAPM that security risk premiums will be
proportional to beta.

Expiration cycle

An expiration cycle relates to the dates on which options on a particular security expire. A
given option will be placed in 1 of 3 cycles, the January cycle, the February cycle, or the March cycle. At any
point in time, an option will have contracts with 4 expiration dates outstanding, 2 in near-term months and 2
in far-term months.

Factor model

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

Figuring the tail

Calculating the yield at which a future money market (one available some period hence) is
purchased when that future security is created by buying an existing instrument and financing the initial
portion of its life with a term repo.


A rule that stipulates when a security should be bought or sold according to past price action.

Fixed-income equivalent

Also called a busted convertible, a convertible security that is trading like a straight
security because the optioned common stock is trading low.

Flat trades

1) A bond in default trades flat; that is, the price quoted covers both principal and unpaid,
accrued interest.
2) Any security that trades without accrued interest or at a price that includes accrued
interest is said to trade flat.

Forward market

A market in which participants agree to trade some commodity, security, or foreign
exchange at a fixed price for future delivery.

Full faith-and-credit obligations

The security pledges for larger municipal bond issuers, such as states and
large cities which have diverse funding sources.

Fundamental analysis

security analysis that seeks to detect misvalued securities by an analysis of the firm's
business prospects. Research analysis often focuses on earnings, dividend prospects, expectations for future
interest rates, and risk evaluation of the firm.

Fundamental beta

The product of a statistical model to predict the fundamental risk of a security using not
only price data but other market-related and financial data.

Futures market

A market in which contracts for future delivery of a commodity or a security are bought or sold.


The margin or difference between the actual market value of a security and the value assessed by the
lending side of a transaction (ie. a repo).


The whole-dollar price of a bid or offer is referred to as the handle (ie. if a security is quoted at
101.10 bid and 101.11 offered, 101 is the handle). Traders are assumed to know the handle.

Holding period

Length of time that an individual holds a security.

Index warrant

A stock index option issued by either a corporate or sovereign entity as part of a security
offering, and guaranteed by an option clearing corporation.

Initial margin requirement

When buying securities on margin, the proportion of the total market value of
the securities that the investor must pay for in cash. The security Exchange Act of 1934 gives the board of
governors of the Federal Reserve the responsibility to set initial margin requirements, but individual
brokerage firms are free to set higher requirements. In futures contracts, initial margin requirements are set by
the exchange.

Interest-only strip (IO)

A security based solely on the interest payments form a pool of mortgages, Treasury
bonds, or other bonds. Once the principal on the mortgages or bonds has been repaid, interest payments stop
and the value of the IO falls to zero.

Interest rate risk

The risk that a security's value changes due to a change in interest rates. For example, a
bond's price drops as interest rates rise. For a depository institution, also called funding risk, the risk that
spread income will suffer because of a change in interest rates.







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