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The increase in yield that an investor gains when he/she swaps a bond with a lower yield and shorter maturity for one with a higher yield and longer maturity. The pick up entails risk for the holder of the lower yield bond (that is, the one who receives the high yield bond). This is because the high yield bond is almost always of lower credit quality and the longer maturity exposes the bondholder to interest rate risk and perhaps inflation risk. However, the pick up represents a higher return than the bondholder would have received with the lower yield bond.
A gain in yield that is achieved from swapping bonds. For example, a pickup of 30 basis points comes about when bonds with a 9.70% basis are traded for bonds with a 10.00% basis.