Yield to maturity is the total return that will be earned by someone who purchases a bond and holds it until its maturity date. The yield to maturity might also be referred to as *yield*, *internal rate of return*, or the *market interest rate at the time that the bond was purchased by the investor*. The yield to maturity is expressed as an annual percentage rate.

To illustrate, let's assume that a 5% $100,000 bond will mature in 5 years and will pay interest each June 1 and December 1. Hence the bond will pay interest of $2,500 every six months until it matures. If the *current market interest rate* for this type of bond is 6%, the bond's current market value will be less than $100,000. The market value of a 5% bond in a 6% bond market will be approximately $95,735. This is the *present value* of the $2,500 of interest that will be received every six months for 5 years plus the *present value* of the $100,000 that will be received at the end of 5 years. (All of the cash amounts are discounted by the market interest rate. However, the 6% annual market rate will be restated to be 3% per semiannual period and the 5 years will be restated to be 10 semiannnual periods.)

The investor's yield to maturity will be the market rate of 6% (even though the bond's stated rate is 5%) consisting of the following two components:

- the
*current yield*of more than 5.2% because the investor is receiving cash of $2,500 every six months ($5,000 per year) on an investment of only $95,735. - a gain of $4,265 because the investor bought the bond for $95,735 but will receive cash of $100,000 at maturity.