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Finance Dictionary and Glossary of Investment Terms
Collateralized Mortgage Obligation. A mortgage-backed, investment-grade bond that separates mortgage pools into different maturity classes. Collateralized mortgage obligations (CMO) are backed by mortgage-backed securities with a fixed maturity. They can eliminate the risks associated with prepayment because each security is divided into maturity classes that are paid off in order. As a result, they yield less than other mortgage-backed securities. The maturity classes are called tranches, and they are differentiated by the type of return. A given tranch may receive interest, principal, or a combination of the two, and may include more complex stipulations. One negative aspect of collateralized mortgage obligations is the lower interest rates that compensate for the reduction in prepayment risk and increased predictability of payments. Also, collateralized mortgage obligations can be quite illiquid, which can increase the cost of buying and selling them.