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Pricing to Call

Board rules G-12 on uniform practice and G-15 on customer confirmations set forth certain requirements concerning the computations of yields and dollar prices to premium call or par option features. Both rules currently require that, in the case of a transaction in callable securities effected on the basis of a yield price, the dollar price should be calculated to the lowest of the price to premium call, price to par option, or price to maturity. Further, confirmations of transactions on which the dollar price has been computed to a call or option feature must state the call date and price used in the computation. Amendments to rule G-15 which will become effective on October 1, 1981, generally require that confirmations of transactions in callable securities effected at a dollar price in excess of par must set forth the lowest of the yield to premium call, yield to par option, or yield to maturity resulting from such dollar price.[1]

Since the December 1977 effective dates of rule G-12 and G-15, the Board has received numerous inquiries concerning these provisions and their application to different issues of municipal securities. In view of the general interest in this subject, the Board is issuing this notice to provide guidance with respect to the general criteria to be used in selecting the appropriate call feature for yield or dollar price computations.

The requirement for the computation of dollar price to the lowest of price to premium call, par option, or maturity reflects the long-established practice of the industry in pricing transactions. This practice assures a customer that he or she will realize, at a minimum, the stated yield, even in the event that a call provision is exercised. The pending amendment to rule G-15, which requires the presentation of information concerning the lowest yield on confirmations of dollar price transactions, will provide investors with the equivalent information on these types of transactions.

In view of the variety of call provisions applicable to different kinds of municipal securities, there is often uncertainty concerning the selection of the appropriate call feature for use in the computation of yield or dollar price. Issues of municipal securities often have several different call features, ranging from calls associated with mandatory sinking fund requirements to optional calls from the proceeds of a refunding or funds in excess of debt service requirements. Certain issues have additional call provisions in the event that funds designated for specific purposes are not expended or obligations securing the issue are prepaid.[2] Most of the inquiries which the Board has received concerning the provisions of rules G-12 and G-15 focus on this question of selection of the call provisions to be used for computation purposes.

The Board is of the view that a distinction should be drawn between "in whole" call provisions, (i.e., those under which all outstanding securities of a particular issue may be called) and "in part" call provisions (i.e., those under which part of an issue, usually selected by lot or in inverse maturity or numerical order, may be called for redemption). The Board is of the view that for computation purposes only "in whole" calls should be used; sinking fund calls and other "in part" calls should not be used in making the computations required by rules G-12 and G-15.

Several inquiries have raised the question of which "in whole" call should be used in the case of issues which have more than one such call. The earlier call features of such issues are often subject to restrictions on the proceeds which may be used to redeem securities (e.g., a restriction that only unexpended funds from the original issue may be used for redemption purposes). Since such call features operate as a practical matter as "in part" calls, the Board is of the view that the "in whole" call feature which would be exercised in the event of a refunding is the call feature which should generally be used for purposes of the computation of yields and dollar prices.

Other concerned persons have inquired regarding the application of the "pricing to call" requirements in the case of an issue with a sequence of call dates at gradually declining premiums. The Board believes that, as a general matter, a trial computation to the first date on which a security is callable "in whole" at a premium will be sufficient to determine whether the price to the premium call is the lowest dollar price. However, in the rare instance where the price to an intermediate premium call (i.e., a call in the "middle" of a sequence of calls at declining premiums) is the lowest dollar price, such price should be used. The Board notes that, in such cases, the structure of the call schedule is sufficiently unusual (e.g., with sharp declines in the premium amount over a very short period of time) that dealers should be alerted to the need to take the intermediate calls into consideration.

[1] Effective December 1, 1980, customer confirmations of transactions in callable securities effected at a dollar price less than par must set forth the yield to maturity resulting from such dollar price. Confirmations of dollar-price transactions in non-callable securities, or securities which have been called or prerefunded, must set forth the resulting yield to maturity (or to the date for redemption of the securities, in the case of called or prerefunded securities).

[2] Other issues are also callable in the event that the financed project is damaged or destroyed, or the tax exempt status of the issue is revoked. Since the possibility of such a call being exercised is extremely remote, and beyond the control of the issuer of the securities, the Board does not believe that these "catastrophe" calls need be considered for computation purposes.