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Types of Mutual Funds

Many types of mutual funds are out there for you to invest in. But choosing an investment really depends on some key criteria: your investment objective, your current income, your age, and your risk tolerance level. A financial advisor can best help you clearly define your investment objectives and help determine a mix of investments consistent with those objectives.

What is an equity fund?

An equity mutual fund invests primarily in stocks and entitle the holder to a share of the company's success through dividends and/or capital appreciation. There are many types of equity mutual funds, including those with different styles (growth, value, blend, index), market capitalizations (small-, mid- and large-cap) and regional focus (e.g. domestic, international, global).

Why include equity funds in my portfolios?

An equity mutual fund invests primarily in stocks and entitle the holder to a share of the company's success through dividends and/or capital appreciation. There are many types of equity mutual funds, including those with different styles (growth, value, blend, index), market capitalizations (small-, mid- and large-cap) and regional focus (e.g. domestic, international, global).

What are the risks and benefits?

An equity mutual fund invests primarily in stocks and entitle the holder to a share of the company's success through dividends and/or capital appreciation. There are many types of equity mutual funds, including those with different styles (growth, value, blend, index), market capitalizations (small-, mid- and large-cap) and regional focus (e.g. domestic, international, global).

Next Steps

  • Talk to your financial advisor about your situation and whether a equity fund could be right for you.
  • Call Dreyfus today at 1-800-DREYFUS to learn more about our equity funds.

Equity funds are subject generally to market, market sector, market liquidity, issuer and investment style risks, among other factors, to varying degrees, all of which are more fully described in the fund's prospectus.

What is a growth fund?

Growth funds consist of stocks of companies that are expected to "grow" their earnings, or profits, faster than the overall market. These stocks can be issued by companies in new or expanding industries, or in well-established industries.

What types of stocks do growth managers look for?

Growth managers search for stocks of companies with above-average historical earnings, earnings growth rates, and earnings forecasts. These companies are typically well-managed and have demonstrated sustained patterns of profitability. Given their earnings growth potential, growth stocks tend to be relatively expensive. Investors are often willing to pay more for them and thus push prices up.

Why consider growth-style products for my portfolio?

Depending on your time horizon and risk tolerance, tapping into the growth potential of these stocks through growth mutual funds could help you pursue your need for capital appreciation, particularly for long-term goals such as retirement or college.

What are the benefits and risks?

Growth stocks may provide potential for returns that exceed the overall market's returns, but they can also be more volatile. Growth companies are expected to increase their earnings at a certain rate. If these expectations are not met, a stock's price may decline, even if earnings do increase. In addition, growth stocks typically lack the dividend yield that can cushion stock prices during market downturns.

Next Steps

  • Talk to your financial advisor about your situation and whether a growth fund could be right for you.
  • Call Dreyfus today at 1-800-DREYFUS to learn more about our growth funds.

What is a value fund?

Value funds search for bargains - stocks that are considered undervalued. These can be strong companies that are considered to be inexpensively priced relative to their perceived value. Value managers expect the market will recognize the potential value of these stocks and that their prices will rise.

What type of stocks do value managers look for?

Value managers seek companies that are temporarily out of favor because of short-term developments, like earnings disappointments or competitive threats. They also look for signs that these short-term problems are being addressed by management, and that a company's growth potential may eventually be realized. As a result, these stocks typically have lower price-to-earnings ratios, which means the portfolio managers are paying lower prices for the company's earnings.

Why include value investing in my portfolio?

A stock with a bargain price may offer a greater long-term potential for growth than an expensive growth stock. Value stocks may offer greater protection against loss than growth stocks because, depending on market conditions, an inexpensive stock may not decline as much as an expensive one.

What are the benefits and risks?

 Value stocks may outpace the returns of other equity investments in some economic conditions and may also be less volatile. They're typically sensitive to the economic cycle. Stocks often favored by value funds are cyclical stocks - stocks in industries that tend to rise and fall in line with the economy.

Value stocks involve the risk that they may never reach what the manager believes is their full market value, either because the market fails to recognize the stock's worth or the manager misgauged that worth. They also may decline in price, even though in theory they are already undervalued. Because different types of stocks tend to shift in and out of favor depending on market and economic conditions, the fund's performance may sometimes be lower or higher than that of other types of funds (such as those concentrated in growth stocks).

Next Steps

  • Talk to your financial advisor about your situation and whether a value fund could be right for you.
  • Call Dreyfus today at 1-800-DREYFUS to learn more about our value funds.

What is a blend fund?

 In equity investing, there are two main management styles - growth and value. While both offer a long-term approach to capital appreciation, they differ in how they pursue that goal. Blend investing combines both approaches.

Why include blend investing in my portfolio?

Because it is difficult to determine which style the market will favor, a blend fund may be a smart core equity strategy. The growth and value styles of investing have contrasting characteristics which allows a blend portfolio to maintain diversification in any market environment. Over the long term, you'll potentially benefit by not having to guess which investment style will do better.

Growth and value stocks have taken turns outperforming each other over time. A blended approach offers you the opportunity to take advantage of whichever style is in favor.


Diversification in a Volatile Market
  Growth Value
Companies with... Consistently stronger earnings history Earnings shortfalls, or a company that is out of favor with investors
Stock prices... Valued on high growth earnings estimates Are considered undervalued compared with intrinsic worth
Style tends to perform best in... Faster growing economic environments Slower growing economic environments
Stock selection focuses on... Growth of earnings potential Growth potential relative to current price

What are the benefits and risks?

Because blend funds may invest in both growth and value stocks, they'll be affected by economic conditions depending on their specific holdings and may also be affected by weighting and performance of that style.

Next Steps

  • Talk to your financial advisor about your situation and whether a blend fund could be right for you.
  • Call Dreyfus today at 1-800-DREYFUS to learn more about our blend funds.

What is an index fund?

Index funds seek to match the returns of a specific market index, like the S&P 5001, by investing in all of the stocks in an index or a representative sampling of those stocks. Index fund managers hope to pursue the stock market's long-term growth potential.

How are index funds different from actively managed funds?

Index funds are "passively" managed, as opposed to a typical fund that may be "actively" managed.

  • Active management hinges on security selection to maximize growth -the portfolio manager is looking at stocks, and their relative valuations, every day and making buy, sell and hold decisions based on fundamental and/or technical analysis.
  • Passive management aims to simply match the performance of an index. Passive managers do this by buying either all the stocks in the index or a representative sampling of the stocks in the index, with weightings substantially similar to those of the index.

Why should I consider index funds in my portfolio?

When investing for long-term goals, like retirement or college, index funds may help you form the foundation of an equity portfolio designed to pursue capital appreciation over time. Index funds may also complement actively managed equity funds that you choose to include in your portfolio. Since many investors are attracted to the distinctive investment philosophies and strategies offered by a wide range of actively managed funds, it may be a good idea to combine equity and bond portfolios with a core investment in an index fund.

Potentially higher after-tax returns2,3,4

With index funds, you may be able to keep more of what you earn from your investments than you would from some funds that trade more actively. The relatively limited buying and selling of securities can mean lower portfolio turnover,2 which can potentially limit year-end capital gain distributions and tax liability.

Lower costs5

Index funds generally have lower costs than actively managed funds. Fund managers don’t have the expense of research to determine the fund's holdings. Also, trading costs may be lower because index managers often do not buy and sell holdings as frequently as active managers do. As a result of keeping portfolio turnover low, trading expenses are usually lower.

Relative predictability6

While the value of index funds will rise and fall with the underlying index, investors can feel confident that performance is unlikely to vary much from the index (before fund expenses). Keep in mind that you cannot invest directly in any index.

Diversification

Broad-based index funds do not favor or emphasize a particular company or sector. Holdings are widely diversified, which may help to reduce investment risk relative to funds that invest in fewer companies or sectors.

What are the benefits and risks?

Because index funds attempt to match the performance of a particular market index, they'll generally be affected by economic conditions in the same way as the overall market. When the economy is strong, for example, large-company stocks may benefit from rising earnings. A large-company index fund, such as a fund that seeks to match its performance to the S&P 500, may in turn benefit from the growth of these large companies.
Because index fund managers only invest in the stocks that make up the relevant index, they may have less flexibility than other fund managers to be defensive in down markets. That's why the performance of an index fund tends to rise and fall in sync with the overall market.
Like any equity investing, indexing is not a "get in and get out" strategy. It's designed to work best over the long term, when the cost advantages it offers, potentially, can be maximized through compounding.

Next Steps

  • Talk to your financial advisor about your situation and whether a index fund could be right for you.
  • Call Dreyfus today at 1-800-DREYFUS to learn more about our index funds.

1. The S&P 500 Composite Stock Index is a widely accepted, unmanaged index of U.S. stock market performance. Investors cannot invest directly in any index.
2. Portfolio turnover by itself does not automatically generate higher annual distributions. Portfolio turnover rates are subject to change.
3. Achieving tax efficiency is not part of an index fund's investment objective, and there can be no guarantee that a fund will achieve any particular level of taxable distributions in future years. In periods when the manager has to sell significant amounts of securities (e.g., during periods of significant net redemptions or changes in index components), index funds can be expected to be less tax efficient than during periods of more stable market conditions and asset flows.
4. Additional gains may be realized if the portfolio manager must liquidate securities to raise cash for shareholder redemptions.
5. Source: Lipper
6. An index fund's performance can be expected to be slightly lower than the actual index's performance because of expenses and other factors.

What is a global or international fund?

Global and international funds seek capital appreciation by investing in stocks of companies in foreign markets. Some funds may target specific regions or countries, while others may focus on developed or emerging markets.

The difference between the two is that a global fund can invest in U.S. markets, whereas an international fund only invests in non-U.S. securities.

Why include international investing in my portfolio?

Consider adding an international element to your portfolio for diversification. Economic and market conditions are continually changing. Sometimes they favor domestic stocks while at other times they favor foreign investments. By diversifying among different geographic locations, it's possible to reduce the impact of any one country's market performance on a portfolio's overall returns.

Adding global exposure to an investment portfolio provides increased investment opportunity as well as return potential that may not be available through the U.S. market alone. In fact, in the last 10 calendar years, the U.S. has been among the top three market performers only once.1

Historic Returns

  • Diversification – By investing in a variety of international securities, you may be able to reduce the risks associated with investing in a single market, economy, country or currency. Since different countries can follow different economic cycles, positive performance in one might help offset underperformance in another.
  • Opportunity – With today's global economy, opportunities aren't only found in the U.S. market – some of the strongest opportunities may at times be found abroad. In the past, a growth-oriented portfolio mainly focused on the United States for industry-lending companies. Today, such companies are spread throughout the globe, and investors maintaining a purely domestic-oriented portfolio may be limiting themselves on both diversification and growth potential.

What are the potential benefits and risks?

In today's global economy, opportunities aren't only found in the U.S. market. By diversifying among different geographic locations, it's possible to reduce the impact of any one country's market performance on a portfolio's overall returns. But remember that investing internationally involves accepting the risks of changes in currency exchange rates, political, economic and social instability, a lack of comprehensive company information, differing auditing and legal standards, and potentially less market liquidity. These risks are generally greater with emerging market countries than with more economically and politically established foreign countries.
As a result, investors can expect more volatile returns with dramatic shifts in performance over short-term periods. Of course, an international investment should be considered a supplement to an overall investment program and is appropriate only for those investors willing to undertake the risks involved.

Next Steps

  • Talk to your financial advisor about your situation and whether a international fund could be right for you.
  • Call Dreyfus today at 1-800-DREYFUS to learn more about our international funds.

1. Source: Lipper, based on Morgan Stanley Capital International's national indices of developed markets. For the calendar year periods 2002-2009. The performance data quoted represents past performance, which is no guarantee of future results. This example is for illustrative purposes only. This comparison is intended to illustrate the changing country leadership in terms of stock market performance over time and the potential benefits of a diversified investment approach. It is not intended to promote the performance of any country index or actual investment, which may be less than these returns show.

What is a taxable bond fund?

A taxable bond fund is made up of many individual bonds. The type of bonds in the fund depend on the investment objective and policies of the particular fund. The difference between a taxable bond fund and a municipal bond fund is that taxable bond funds are subject to state and federal taxes, whereas a municipal bond fund is generally exempt from federal income tax and, if you live in the issuing state, state and local taxes.1

Some taxable bond funds invest in a wide variety of bonds which may include bonds issued by the U.S. government, mortgage- and asset-backed securities, corporate bonds and foreign bonds. Government bonds and some mortgage-backed bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, meaning timely payment of principal and interest are guaranteed. While the U.S. government guarantees the timely payment of principal and interest on these bonds, the market value and the share price of these bonds are not guaranteed.

Corporate bonds carry credit ratings which help indicate the likelihood that the issue will pay interest and repay principal on a timely basis. The two main categories of corporate bonds are investment grade and below investment grade or "junk bonds."2

An equity mutual fund invests primarily in stocks and entitle the holder to a share of the company's success through dividends and/or capital appreciation. There are many types of equity mutual funds, including those with different styles (growth, value, blend, index), market capitalizations (small-, mid- and large-cap) and regional focus (e.g. domestic, international, global).

Why should I consider bond funds in my portfolio?

A major benefit of a taxable bond fund is that most pay monthly income. Because individual bonds generally pay interest only twice a year, bond funds – comprised of many bonds paying income at different points – may be helpful for individuals requiring current income on a regular basis.

Most taxable bond funds have relatively low investment minimums, allowing investors to establish a diversified portfolio of bonds. Because of the high face value of individual bonds, investors would need a much higher investment to build a diversified portfolio on their own.

Asset allocation is another important but often overlooked benefit. Stocks and bonds often react differently to economic and market events, and a portfolio that includes both asset classes helps to increase diversification and manage the overall volatility of the portfolio. Of course, asset allocation and diversification does not guarantee a profit or protect against loss.

Manage Risk

Important concepts about bonds

  • The relationship of bond prices and interest rates. Bonds fluctuate in value. This is true for bond funds as well. One major factor affecting bond prices is the movement of interest rates. Bond prices and interest rates have an inverse relationship — as one rises, the other falls. This is known as interest-rate risk.

Interest Rates

The same is true for bond funds. The movement of interest rates would affect the prices of bonds in the fund's portfolio, which would in turn affect a fund's share price. Short-term bonds, and bonds close to maturity, generally are affected by interest-rate changes to a lesser degree than longer-term bonds.

What other risks are associated with bond funds?

  • Credit risk. This relates to any privately issued bond. Credit quality refers to a company's ability to make principal and interest payments in a timely manner. Independent rating agencies like Standard & Poor's and Moody's have their own ratings systems, but generally the higher the rating assigned, the greater the likelihood that the issuer  meet these obligations.

Bad Credit Rating

  • Prepayment risk. Prepayment risk generally applies to mortgage-backed and many asset-backed bonds. Many kinds of mortgage securities, for example, may be paid early (prior to the bond's maturity date) when homeowners decide to refinance their mortgages when interest rates decline. Prepayment causes bond funds to reinvest proceeds at lower prevailing rates, potentially reducing performance.
  • Liquidity risk. When there is little or no active trading market for a bond, it can be more difficult to buy or sell the security at or near its fair value. In such a market, the value of such securities, and a bond fund's share price, may decline dramatically.

Next Steps

  • Talk to your financial advisor about your situation and whether a bond fund could be right for you.
  • Call Dreyfus today at 1-800-DREYFUS to learn more about our bond funds.

1. Income from non-state specific municipal bond funds may be subject to state and local taxes. Income from state-specific municipal bond funds may be subject to some state and local taxes for non-state residents. A portion of a municipal bond fund's income may be treated as a preference item for some investors for the purpose of the federal Alternative Minimum Tax. Capital gains, if any, are fully taxable.

2. Bond ratings reflect the rating entity's evaluation of the issuer's ability to pay interest and repay principal on the bond on a timely basis. Bonds rated BBB/Baa or higher are considered investment grade, while bonds rated BB/Ba or lower are considered speculative as to the timely payment of interest and principal.

Municipal bond funds invest in debt obligations issued by state and local municipalities to raise money for projects like new roads and schools. 

The difference between a municipal bond fund and a taxable bond fund is that municipal bond funds are generally exempt from federal income tax and, if you live in the issuing state, state and local taxes.  Taxable bond funds are subject to state and federal taxes.1

Why include municipal bond funds in my portfolios?

If you're considering purchasing a municipal bond fund, you should always take into account the taxable equivalent yield. The taxable equivalent yield is the yield an investor would have to earn on a taxable investment to equal a certain tax-free yield. As you can see from the hypothetical illustration below, the higher the federal income tax bracket, the greater the taxable yield needs to be to match a tax-free yield.


Federal Tax Rate - 2010
25.00% 28.00% 33.00% 35.00%

Adjusted Gross Income
Joint:
$68,001 - $137,330 $137,301 - $209,250 $209,251 - $373,650 $373,650 - No limit
Single:
$34,001 - $83,400 $82,401 - $171,850 $171,851 - $373,650 $373,650 - No limit

It's What You Keep That Counts
Tax-Exempt Fund Yield
Taxable Equivalent Yield
2.00% 2.67% 2.78% 2.99% 3.08%
2.50% 3.33% 3.47% 3.73% 3.85%
3.00% 4.00% 4.17% 4.48% 4.62%
3.50% 4.67% 4.86% 5.22% 5.38%
4.00% 5.33% 5.56% 5.97% 6.15%
4.50% 6.00% 6.25% 6.72% 6.92%
5..00% 6.67% 6.94% 7.46% 7.69%
This chart is hypothetical and for illustrative purposes only. The share price, yield and investment return of a Dreyfus municipal bond fund will vary, and there can be no guarantee that the fund will achieve any particular tax-exempt yield. Does not take into consideration state, local or federal alternative minimum taxes that may apply.

Why is yield still not the complete picture?

While yield is an important figure that can help you estimate your income stream, it should not be the only factor – total return is equally as important. It gives a more complete picture of a fund's performance because it reflects all income distributions, as well as any increase or decrease of the fund's net asset value (NAV).


Total Return - A More Comprehensive Story
Municipal Fund A Municipal Fund B
$10,000 Investment at $10/share
  • $10,000 = 1,000 shares
  • 5% yield = $500 in dividend income
  • Share price drops to $9.85/share
$9,850 principal value
+$500 dividend income
$10,000 Investment at $10/share
  • $10,000 = 1,000 shares
  • 4.8% yield = $480 in dividend income
  • Share price remains constant
$10,000 principal value
+$480 dividend income
$10,350 = 3.5% Total Return $10,480 = 4.8% Total Return
This hypothetical example assumes cash payment of dividends over a period of one year, is for illustrative purposes only, and is not intended to predict the performance of any actual investment. The share price, yield and investment return of a municipal bond fund will vary, and there can be no guarantee that a municipal bond fund will achieve a particular yield or return.

What can affect net asset value?

Why would Fund A's share price drop while Fund B's remained constant? There could be a number of reasons that could impact a bond fund's NAV:

  • Interest Rate Changes. Usually called "average portfolio maturity," this shows the average number of years until the bonds in the portfolio mature and become payable. The portfolio maturity will determine the level of impact a change in interest rates will have on a bond's price. Municipal bonds generally can be expected to gain in value if interest rates decline and decrease in value if rates rise. In a rising interest-rate environment a longer maturity could hurt the fund's NAV, since bonds in the portfolio may lose value because newly issued bonds would be paying higher yields.
  • Credit Quality Changes. Municipal bonds are rated by credit quality - their ability to pay interest and principal payments in a timely matter. Credit quality can range. To compensate investors who invest in lower quality, higher risk bonds, a higher yield might be paid. But the lower credit quality means there could be a higher risk of the issuer missing an interest payment, or even defaulting on the bond. This increased risk could negatively impact a fund's NAV, if credit issues arise.

Issue Selection. Municipalities can issue bonds for any number of different reasons. Issue selection refers to the particular circumstances surrounding the specific municipal bond issuance that could affect the price of the bond, and in turn, a fund's NAV. For example:

  • What is the fiscal health of the state or municipality?
  • What are the risks involved in the underlying municipal project?

What other risks are associated with municipal bond funds?

Bond mutual funds are subject generally to interest rate, credit, liquidity and market risks to varying degrees. These risks are described in the fund's prospectus.

Next Steps

  • Talk to your financial advisor about your situation and whether a municipal fund could be right for you.
  • Call Dreyfus today at 1-800-DREYFUS to learn more about our municipal funds.

1. Income from non-state specific municipal bond funds may be subject to state and local taxes. Income from state-specific municipal bond funds may be subject to some state and local taxes for non-state residents. A portion of a municipal bond fund's income may be treated as a preference item for some investors for the purpose of the federal Alternative Minimum Tax. Capital gains, if any, are fully taxable.

What is a money market fund?

A money market fund invests in short term investments, like certificates of deposit (CDs) and treasury bills. The fund's net asset value is usually $1 a share and its interest rate can go up or down.

Why include a money market fund in my portfolio?

If you need to keep your investment liquid and readily available, a money market fund might be right for you. They aim to preserve capital and generate short-term income with minimal risk. While their returns may be low, they may help you maintain your principal investment at a lower risk. A good example of someone who might consider a money market fund is a parent whose child is approaching college age. Transferring the money they’ve saved and investment to pay for college to a money market fund might be a good way to preserve what they have and have easy access to it.

What are the benefits and risks?

Money market funds offer short-term income and stability with a minimal risk of principal loss. But, the interest on a money market fund is typically lower than other fixed income investments.

An investment in a money market fund is not a bank deposit. It is not insured or guaranteed by the FDIC or any other government agency. Although the fund seeks to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in the fund. Returns on money market funds run the risk of not keeping pace with inflation.

Next Steps

  • Talk to your financial advisor about your situation and whether a money market fund could be right for you.
  • Call Dreyfus today at 1-800-DREYFUS to learn more about our money market funds.

Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses of the fund carefully before investing. Download a prospectus, or summary prospectus, if available, that contains this and other information about the fund, and read it carefully before investing.

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