Inflation-indexed bonds are fixed income securities that are structured to provide protection against inflation. The value of the bond's principal or the interest income paid on the bond is adjusted to track changes in an official inflation measure. The U.S. Treasury uses the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers as the inflation measure for U.S. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities ("TIPS"). Inflation-indexed bonds issued by foreign governments are generally adjusted to reflect a comparable inflation index, calculated by that government. "Real return" equals total return less the estimated cost of inflation, which is typically measured by the change in an official inflation measure.
The Fund may invest up to 30% of its total assets in securities denominated in foreign currencies, and may invest beyond this limit in U.S. dollar denominated securities of foreign issuers. Foreign currency exposure (from non-U.S. dollar denominated securities or currencies) normally will be limited to 20% of the Fund's total assets. The Fund also may invest up to 10% of its total assets in securities and instruments that are economically tied to emerging market countries (this limitation does not apply to investment-grade sovereign debt denominated in the local currency with less than 1 year remaining to maturity).
Under normal market conditions, the Fund expects to invest at least 80% of its net assets, plus borrowings for investment purposes, in inflation-indexed bonds of varying maturities issued by the U.S. government, non-U.S. governments, their agencies or instrumentalities, and corporations, which may be represented by forwards or derivatives such as options, futures contracts or swap agreements. Assets not invested in inflation-indexed bonds may be invested in other types of fixed income securities.
The Fund may invest, without limitation, in derivative instruments, such as options, futures contracts or swap agreements (including currency swaps, interest rate swaps, total return swaps, credit default swaps and others, in which the Fund may be either the buyer or the seller), or in mortgage- or asset-backed securities, subject to applicable law and any other restrictions described in the Fund's prospectus or Statement of Additional Information. The Fund may, without limitation, seek to obtain market exposure to the securities in which it invests by entering into a series of purchase and sale contracts or by using other investment techniques (such as buy-backs or dollar rolls). The Fund may purchase or sell securities on a when-issued, delayed delivery or forward commitment basis and may engage in short selling, which is the sale by the Fund of a borrowed security. Because the Fund is obligated to replace the borrowed security, the Fund would benefit from the short sale if the price of the security declines before it is replaced. The Fund may also invest up to 10% of its total assets in preferred stocks.
Credit Quality. The Fund invests primarily in investment-grade debt securities, but may invest up to 10% of its total assets in below investment-grade securities, commonly referred to as "high-yield" or "junk" bonds. For all securities other than mortgage-related securities, the Fund may invest in below investment-grade securities only if they are rated B or higher by Moody's, S&P or Fitch, or, if unrated, determined to be of comparable quality. For mortgage-related securities, the Fund may invest in securities of any credit quality, including those rated below B.
Duration. The average portfolio duration of this Fund, as calculated by the Subadviser, normally varies within three years (plus or minus) of the duration of the Barclays U.S. TIPS Index, which as of December 31, 2015 was 7.59 years. Average duration is a weighted average of all fixed income security durations in the Fund's portfolio, and is an approximate measure of the sensitivity of the market value of the Fund's holdings to changes in interest rates. If the Fund's duration is longer than the market's duration, the Fund would experience a greater change in the value of its assets when interest rates are rising or falling than would the market as a whole. The average duration of the Fund's portfolio was 7.25 years as of December 31, 2015.
Interest rate risk: As nominal interest rates rise, the value of fixed income securities held by the Fund are likely to decrease and reduce the value of the Fund's portfolio. Securities with longer durations tend to be more sensitive to changes in interest rates, and are usually more volatile than securities with shorter durations. For example, a 5 year average duration generally means the fixed income security will decrease in value by 5% if interest rates rise by 1%. Additionally, rising interest rates may lead to increased redemptions, increased volatility and decreased liquidity in the fixed income markets, making it more difficult for the Fund to sell its fixed income holdings when the Subadviser may wish to sell or must sell to meet redemptions.
A nominal interest rate can be described as the sum of a real interest rate and an expected inflation rate. Inflation-indexed securities, including U.S. Treasury inflation protected securities ("TIPS"), decline in value when real interest rates rise. In certain interest rate environments, such as when real interest rates are rising faster than nominal interest rates, inflation-indexed securities may experience greater losses than other fixed income securities with similar durations. Interest rates in the U.S. are near historic lows, which may increase the Fund's exposure to risks associated with rising rates.
Credit risk: The issuer of a security owned by the Fund could default on its obligation to pay principal or interest or its credit rating could be downgraded. Likewise, a counterparty to a derivative or other contractual instrument owned by the Fund could default on its obligation. This risk may be higher for below investment-grade securities.
Prepayment risk: When interest rates are declining, the issuer of a pass-through security, such as a mortgage-backed or an asset-backed security, may exercise its option to prepay principal earlier than scheduled, forcing the Fund to reinvest in lower yielding securities.
Selection risk: The Subadviser's judgment about the attractiveness, value and potential appreciation of a particular security may be incorrect.
Derivatives risk: The value of derivative instruments held by the Fund may not change in the manner expected by the Subadviser, which could result in disproportionately large losses to the Fund. Derivatives may also be more volatile than other instruments and may create a risk of loss greater than the amount invested. In addition, certain derivatives may be difficult to value and may be illiquid.
Leveraging risk: The Fund's use of certain investments, such as derivative instruments or reverse repurchase agreements, and certain transactions, such as securities purchased on a when-issued, delayed delivery or forward commitment basis, can give rise to leverage within the Fund's portfolio, which could cause the Fund's returns to be more volatile than if leverage had not been used.
Market and issuer risk: Securities markets are volatile and can decline significantly in response to adverse market, economic, political, regulatory or other developments, which may lower the value of securities held by the Fund, sometimes rapidly or unpredictably. Additionally, an adverse event or adverse economic conditions may depress the value of a particular issuer's securities or may increase the risk that issuers will not generate sufficient cash flow to service their debt obligations.
Foreign securities risk: Because the Fund may invest in securities of foreign issuers, an investment in the Fund is subject to special risks in addition to those of U.S. securities. These risks include heightened political and economic risks, greater volatility, currency fluctuations, higher transaction costs, delayed settlement, possible foreign controls on investment, possible sanctions by governmental bodies of other countries and less stringent investor protection and disclosure standards of foreign markets. Foreign securities are sometimes less liquid and harder to value than securities of U.S. issuers. These risks are more significant for issuers in emerging market countries. Global economies and financial markets are becoming increasingly interconnected, and conditions and events in one country, region or financial market may adversely impact issuers in a different country, region or financial market.
Liquidity risk: A particular investment may be difficult to purchase or sell and the Fund may be unable to sell illiquid securities at an advantageous time or price or achieve its desired level of exposure to a certain sector. Liquidity risk may result from the lack of an active market, reduced number and capacity of traditional market participants to make a market in fixed income securities, and may be magnified in a rising interest rate environment or other circumstances where investor redemptions from fixed income mutual funds may be higher than normal, causing increased supply in the market due to selling activity.
Emerging markets risk: The risk of investing in emerging market securities, primarily increased foreign (non-U.S.) investment risk.
Currency risk: The risk that foreign currencies will decline in value relative to the U.S. dollar and affect the Fund's investments in foreign (non-U.S.) currencies or in securities that trade in, and receive revenues in, or in derivatives that provide exposure to, foreign (non-U.S.) currencies.
Short sales risk: If the price of securities sold short increases, the Fund would be required to pay more to replace the borrowed securities than the Fund received on the sale of the securities. Because there is theoretically no limit to the amount of the increase in price of the borrowed securities, the Fund's risk of loss on a short sale is potentially unlimited.
Mortgage risk: Mortgage derivatives in the Fund's portfolio may have especially volatile prices because the embedded leverage can magnify the impact of the extension or contraction event on the underlying cash flow. There may be a greater risk that the Fund could lose money due to prepayment and extension risks because the Fund invests heavily at times in mortgage-related securities.