I am wondering why you never see the (weighted) nominal value of the underlying assets of a bond ETF mentioned anywhere.

It seems to me this information is needed to determine whether a bond ETF is fairly priced, just like you need that information to determine whether a bond[1] is fairly priced. All that is mentioned is the weighted NAV (net asset value) of the underlying, which is of course also somewhat important[2], but does not enable you to determine if the underlying was fairly valued in the first place.

This seems especially relevant since ETF share prices don't need to match the (weighted) price of individual underlying assets [3].

[1] the market value of a bond depends on its nominal value, duration, coupon rate and the current risk free interest rate. Example: when the risk free interest rate is 2%, a fictional 1 year US treasury bill with a nominal value of $100 and a coupon rate of 3% could be expected to have a market value of $101.

[2] Mostly to assure the buyer that there isn't a large gap between the market price per ETF share and the NAV

[3] Even if an ETF owns only bonds with a nominal value, and market price, of $100, the ETF share price could be fair at $23.36, because each share represents 2336/10000th of an underlying asset.

1 Answer 1


A simple search shows this not to be the case:

Consider the iShares J.P. Morgan $ EM Bond UCITS ETF. Browse to the bottom of the page to find a link to detailed holdings and analytics, which gives it full position as of 21st Jun 2018. I suspect they have similar for all their EFTs.



With regards to the nominal value, it is an arbitrary and fluctuating value that has limited relevance.

For example suppose that yields are 2.5% and on Day1 the fund owns a nominal 10mm of a 3% 10Y bond which has a price of $105.00, i.e asset value of $10.5mm.

Now suppose on Day2 it sells its holdings of that bond and instead buys $10.5mm worth of the 2% 10Y bond which has a price of $95. Now its nominal holding is $11.0mm instead of $10mm and the asset value is still $10.5mm. If prices are the same then from one day to another then this new bonds weight within the portfolio is the same as the old one so now the overall weighted nominal is higher. But this information is of no value.

  • You can calculate it yourself from that data, but what surprises me that such an important number isn't calcuated for you and displayed near the NAV, yield, etc.
    – Confusion
    Jun 24, 2018 at 20:11
  • But there is, in the 'key facts' section there is a figure called NAV as at 22jun2018, of 7.1254bn, and they give you the number of outstanding shares as 67.541mm and since you know the price the market implied value is 7.1256bn, i.e it differs by $0.003 per share, which is the minimal amount of rounding given the share price discretisation. Im sure you can find examples of (smaller, less liquid) funds where this might be more relevant though
    – Attack68
    Jun 24, 2018 at 20:24
  • I don't understand what you are telling me. What is the weighted nominal value of the underlying assets per ETF share for that ETF according to you? The NAV is the weighted market price per ETF share. E.g. the iShares 20+ year ETF is trading around $120. A share seems to represent a single underlying bond denominated $100 (which are also trading around $120), but that is not necessary. The ETF could as well be trading at $30, in which case the weighted nominal value of the underlying assets would be $25.
    – Confusion
    Jun 25, 2018 at 9:13

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