The yield to worst (YTW) is the lowest potential yield that can be received on a bond without the issuer actually defaulting. The YTW is calculated by making worst-case scenario assumptions on the issue by calculating the return that would be received if the issuer uses provisions, including prepayments, calls or sinking funds. This metric is used to evaluate the worst-case scenario for yield to help investors manage risks and ensure that specific income requirements will still be met even in the worst scenarios.

The yield to call is the annual rate of return assuming the bond is redeemed by the issuer on the next call date. A bond is callable if the issuer has the right to redeem it prior to the maturity date. YTW is the lower of the yield to call or yield to maturity. A put provision gives the holder the right to sell the bond back to the company at a certain price at a specified date. There is a yield to put, but this doesn't factor into the YTW since it is the investor's option on whether to sell the bond.

If a bond is not callable, the yield to maturity is the appropriate yield for investors to use, since there isn't a yield to call. However, if a bond is callable, it becomes important to look at the YTW. In particular, for a bond is trading above par value, the yield to maturity may be higher than the yield to call, since the investor pays a premium that takes away from the return. In this case, the YTW is important to examine since the bond could be called and this is the lowest yield possible, assuming there is not a default.

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