The Fund invests primarily in convertible securities of U.S. and non-U.S. corporate issuers. Convertible securities are "hybrid" securities that possess both fixed income and equity characteristics. These convertible securities include corporate bonds, preferred stocks and other types of securities that are convertible into common stock or its equivalent value. A convertible security generally performs more like a common stock when the price of the underlying stock is closer to or above the conversion price because it is more likely that the convertible security will be converted into stock. A convertible security generally performs more like a bond when the price of the underlying stock is well below the conversion price because it is more likely that the convertible security will mature without being converted. While the Fund has broad discretion to invest in all types of convertible securities, the Fund focuses primarily on investments in convertible bonds. The Fund also focuses primarily on convertible securities of corporate issuers with debt rated below investment-grade (below Baa3 by Moody's or below BBB- by S&P or Fitch), commonly referred to as "high yield" or "junk bonds." As a result, all, or substantially all of the Fund's assets may be invested in below investment-grade rated securities. The Fund invests primarily in U.S. dollar denominated securities; however, the Fund may invest in securities denominated in other currencies.
The Subadviser seeks to maximize portfolio return and minimize default risk by adhering to the following elements of its philosophy when selecting securities for investment:
The Subadviser conducts in-depth analysis using proprietary research tools in addition to communicating with management of the issuers to select securities for investment in the Fund and to monitor the selected securities on a systematic basis. The Subadviser seeks to select securities issued by companies that generally exhibit, or are believed to have the prospect for, positive credit momentum with the potential for credit rating upgrade and/or equity appreciation. In addition to considering company fundamentals, the Subadviser also considers a range of more technical factors related to the convertible nature of these securities, including:
The Subadviser tends to acquire convertible securities that have valuations more closely aligned with a company's bonds than common stock. The Subadviser believes this approach can provide greater downside protection for the Fund's portfolio, although at the expense of potentially greater appreciation that can come with holding convertible securities whose price is more dependent upon the price of the underlying common stock.
Under normal market conditions, the Fund invests at least 80% of its net assets, plus borrowings for investment purposes, in a diversified portfolio of convertible securities. While the Fund's portfolio consists primarily of convertible securities of U.S. issuers, it may, from time to time, include non-convertible corporate debt, non-U.S. dollar-denominated securities, convertible securities of non-U.S. issuers, synthetic convertibles or common stock of issuers. In addition, the Subadviser may, from time to time and subject to market conditions, utilize macro hedging techniques. However, it is not the Subadviser's intention to normally hedge on a security-specific basis.
All securities in the portfolio are reviewed at least four times a year. As part of the selection and monitoring process, the Subadviser actively seeks to avoid holding securities of issuers that it deems to have a high risk of default.
Duration/Maturity. Although duration may be one of the characteristics considered in securities selection, the Fund does not focus on securities with any duration or maturity and does not seek to maintain the maturity of the Fund's portfolio in any particular range. The weighted average maturity of the Fund's portfolio was 7.72 years as of December 31, 2014.
Convertible securities risk: Convertible securities generally tend to be of lower credit quality, and the value of a convertible security generally increases and decreases with the value of the underlying common stock, but may also be sensitive to changes in interest rates. A convertible security may also be subject to redemption at the option of the issuer at a price established in the convertible security's governing instrument. If a convertible security held by the Fund is called for redemption, the Fund will be required to permit the issuer to redeem the security, convert it into the underlying common stock or sell it to a third party, which could result in a loss to the Fund. Additionally, the Fund could lose money if the issuer of a convertible security is unable to meet its financial obligations or declares bankruptcy.
Interest rate risk: As interest rates rise, the values of convertible securities held by the Fund are likely to decrease and reduce the value of the Fund's portfolio. Convertible securities are normally much more sensitive to interest rate changes when they are valued more like the company's bonds than the company's common stock, such as when the conversion price for the convertible security is well above the common stock price. Interest rates in the U.S. are at, or near, historic lows, which may increase the Fund's exposure to risks associated with rising rates. 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 convertible securities when the Subadviser may wish to sell or must sell to meet redemptions.
Market and issuer risk: Securities markets are volatile and can decline significantly in response to adverse market, economic, political or regulatory 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.
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. Convertible securities are generally junior to the company's non-convertible debt so the company would normally have to pay interest on its non-convertible debt before interest can be paid on the convertible securities. Credit risk may be higher for the Fund because it invests primarily in convertible securities of companies with debt rated below investment-grade.
High-yield risk: There is a greater risk that the Fund will lose money because it invests primarily in convertible securities of companies with debt rated below investment-grade. These securities are considered speculative because they have a higher risk of issuer default, are subject to greater price volatility and may be illiquid.
Selection risk: The Subadviser's judgment about the attractiveness, value and potential appreciation of a particular security may be incorrect.
Liquidity risk: The market for convertible securities is less liquid than the market for non-convertible corporate bonds. The Fund may at times have greater difficulty buying or selling specific convertible securities at prices the Subadviser believes are reasonable, which would be adverse to the Fund.