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A 2009 photo of the Nortel campus near Ottawa.

CHRIS WATTIE/Chris Wattie/Reuters

Bonds issued by Nortel Networks Corp. are still hot commodities in the high yield market, even though the company is basically gone.

Outstanding bonds are trading in the 88 cents on the dollar range, representing investor hopes that the sale of Nortel assets will generate enough cash to pay claims. There is still one big wild card in that process. Though the vast majority of the company has been auctioned off, the company's patent portfolio has yet to be sold. Final bids are due any day and Apple Inc. and Google Inc. are reported to be interested, according to Reuters.

A tight market for high yield debt is also a big reason, investors said. Even with U.S.-dollar high yield issuers selling a record $315-billion of debt last year, investors have sopped all that up and are seeking more. The demand is hot enough that Nortel bonds were among the busiest in U.S. credit markets some days of late, as The Wall Street Journal noted.

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The Nortel bonds have provided a nice return over the past year, even though they aren't paying interest. This time last year they were trading in the 76 cents on the dollar range, and in March of 2009, they fetched just about 10 cents on the dollar. (Here's a Globe story on it from last January.)

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