Bond buyers have a rule of thumb that says be wary when the coupon on a new debt sale slips below the issuer's leverage. It's an indicator that investors aren't being paid enough for the risk they're taking on.

This adage is being tested anew amid a bubble-like market, as issuers wear down buyers with deals that they'd spurn in almost any other era. One recent example is July's $500 million sale from HD Supply Waterworks. The water and wastewater company priced the debt beneath its 6.3 level of leverage, which measures debt as a multiple of earnings.

Not only did the sale go through, but demand allowed HD Supply to boost it from $475 million and pay even less interest than initially asked, finishing at 6.125%.

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