Negotiable bonds issued by corporations, the Treasury Department and state or municipal governments are essentially IOUs. Each bond has a par value. Par value is the amount the issuer must pay the bond owner to retire the debt when the bond matures. A bond’s price will diverge from the par value as it trades on the market. Finding the actual value of a bond is a bit complicated because bond prices are quoted as percentages of the par value, not in dollars. This means that once you find a bond price quote, you have to do a bit of math to figure out the dollar price.
Locate the current price of the bond issue you are interested in. Some bonds are traded on exchanges. Listed bond quotes can be found in major newspapers and financial publications, such as "The Wall Street Journal" or "Barron’s." Most bonds are traded over the counter. There is no comprehensive OTC bond listing because there are far too many bond issues. For instance, The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association says there are over 1.5 million municipal bond issues currently traded. However, financial websites like SIFMA's InvestingInBonds Market-At-a-Glance and Yahoo! Finance Bonds Center have OTC bond listings. If you can’t find the bond quote you need, your broker can get it for you.Step 2
Find the current price in the bond quote. Quotes are presented in a tabular format. There are variations from one listing to another, but in general the name of the bond issuer is stated on the left. Reading from left to right, you’ll see information such as the bond’s coupon rate, credit rating and maturity. The price will be toward the right. Bond quotes are listed as percentages such as 92.25 or 105 3/4.Step 3
Multiply the bond quote percentage by the par value of the bond. For example, corporate bonds usually have a $1,000 face value. Multiply a corporate bond quote of 92.25 by $1,000 to find the dollar price of this bond, which comes to $922.50. A $5,000 municipal bond listed at 105 3/4 has a dollar price of $5,287.50.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, W D Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about business, personal finance and careers. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology from Georgia State University. He became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.