The Fund invests primarily in Emerging Markets Fixed Income Securities. "Emerging Markets Fixed Income Securities" include fixed income securities and derivative instruments (including, but not limited to, spot and currency contracts, futures, options and swaps (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)) that economically are tied to countries with emerging securities markets, are denominated in the predominant currency of the local market of an emerging market country or whose performance is linked to those countries' markets, economies or ability to repay loans. Emerging Markets Fixed Income Securities may be denominated in non-U.S. currencies or the U.S. dollar. A security or instrument is economically tied to an emerging market country if it is principally traded on the country's securities markets or the issuer is organized or principally operates in the country, derives a majority of its income from its operations within the country or has a majority of its assets within the country.
The Fund considers emerging market countries as those identified by the World Bank Group as being "low income economies" or that are included in a J.P. Morgan emerging market bond index. It is anticipated that the Fund will focus most of its investments in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the developing countries of Europe. The Fund's emerging market fixed income investments may include, among other things, sovereign debt securities, corporate debt securities, structured notes, convertible securities, securities issued by supranational organizations, fixed and floating rate commercial loans, securitized loan participations, Rule 144A securities, non-U.S. currencies, forward currency contracts and other foreign currency transactions and derivatives, and other instruments related to these types of securities. The Fund may utilize derivative instruments to a significant extent to hedge or gain exposure to emerging securities markets or emerging market currencies (for example, futures or other derivatives whose return is based on specific emerging markets securities or indices).
While the Fund may invest in securities denominated in non-U.S. currencies or the U.S. dollar, the Subadviser will normally seek to maintain a target weighting of 50% of the Fund's portfolio exposed to securities denominated in non-U.S. currencies (including currencies of emerging market countries) and 50% to securities denominated in U.S. dollars. However, the Subadviser may tactically increase or decrease the Fund's exposure to securities denominated in non-U.S. or U.S. currencies depending upon the Subadviser's views as to relative attractiveness of particular currencies relative to the U.S. dollar.
The Subadviser seeks capital appreciation through country selection, sector selection, security selection and currency selection. The Subadviser uses a "top-down" approach and allocates the Fund's investments among various emerging market countries. In allocating among different countries, the following are some of the factors the Subadviser may consider:
The Subadviser then selects those individual investments that the Subadviser believes to be most undervalued and to offer the highest potential returns relative to the amount of credit, interest rate, liquidity and other risks presented. The Subadviser engages in independent fundamental analysis to evaluate the creditworthiness of corporate and governmental issuers.
Under normal market conditions, the Fund invests at least 80% of its net assets, plus borrowings for investment purposes, in Emerging Markets Fixed Income Securities, which include derivative instruments that are economically tied to countries with emerging securities markets, are denominated in the predominant currency of the local market of an emerging market country or whose performance is linked to those countries' emerging markets, economies or ability to repay loans. The Fund is non-diversified, which means that it may concentrate its assets in a smaller number of issuers than a diversified fund.
Credit Quality. The Fund may invest in securities of any credit rating (including unrated securities) and may invest without limit in higher risk, below investment-grade debt securities, commonly referred to as "high yield" securities or "junk bonds."
Maturity and Duration. The Fund normally maintains an average portfolio duration, as calculated by the Subadvisor, of between 2 and 7 years. However, the Fund's average duration may be outside this range, and the Fund may invest in securities of any duration and maturity. 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 weighted average maturity of the Fund's portfolio was 8.58 years as of December 31, 2013.
Interest rate risk: As 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%. 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 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.
Emerging market securities risk: Because the Fund invests primarily in securities of emerging market 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, 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. The securities markets of many foreign countries are relatively small, with a limited number of companies representing a small number of industries. If foreign securities are denominated and traded in a foreign currency, the value of the Fund's foreign holdings can be affected by currency exchange rates and exchange control regulations. The Fund's investments in foreign securities may also be subject to foreign withholding taxes.
Foreign securities risks are more significant in emerging market countries, such as those in Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Basin. These countries may have relatively unstable governments and less-established market economies than developed countries. Emerging markets may face greater social, economic, regulatory and political uncertainties. These risks make emerging market securities more volatile and less liquid than securities issued in more developed countries.
The 2008 global economic crisis brought several European governments close to bankruptcy and many other economies into recession and weakened the banking and financial sectors of many 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: The market for emerging market bonds is less liquid than the market for U.S. investment-grade bonds. The Fund may at times have greater difficulty buying or selling specific emerging market bonds at prices the Subadviser believes are reasonable, which would be adverse to the Fund.
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.
High-yield risk: There is a greater risk that the Fund will lose money because it invests in high-yield bonds. These securities are considered speculative because they have a higher risk of issuer default, are subject to greater price volatility and may be illiquid.
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 owed by the Fund could default on its obligation. This risk may be higher for below investment-grade securities.
Selection risk: The Subadviser's judgment about the attractiveness, value and potential appreciation of a particular security may be incorrect.
Non-diversification risk: Because the Fund is non-diversified, which means it may invest a greater percentage of its assets in securities of a single issuer or in a relatively small number of issuers, it is more susceptible to risks associated with a single economic, political or regulatory occurrence than a more diversified portfolio. Some of those issuers may also present substantial credit or other risks.