Fund Goal and Approach
The fund seeks to maximize total return, consisting of capital appreciation and current income. To pursue its goal, the fund normally invests at least 80% of its net assets, plus any borrowings for investment purposes, in certificates issued by the Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA) (popularly called "Ginnie Maes"), which are debt securities guaranteed as to timely payment of principal and interest by the GNMA.
Ginnie Maes are securities backed by a pool of residential mortgages, which "pass through" to investors the interest and principal payments of homeowners. The Government National Mortgage Association, a U.S. government corporation, guarantees that investors will receive timely principal and interest payments even if homeowners do not make mortgage payments on time. This guarantee is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.
The fund may invest the remaining 20% of its net assets in other mortgage-related securities, including those issued by government-related organizations such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities issued by governmental agencies or private entities, and collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs). The fund can invest in privately issued mortgage-backed securities with a "BBB" or higher credit quality, but currently intends to invest in only those securities with an "A" or higher credit quality. The fund is not subject to any maturity or duration restrictions.
The fund also may purchase other securities issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government or its agencies or instrumentalities, such as U.S. Treasury bills, notes and bonds, including inflation-indexed bonds issued by the U.S. government. The fund also may purchase asset-backed securities and enter into repurchase agreements.
The fund may, but is not required to, use derivatives, such as options, futures and options on futures (including those relating to securities and interest rates), forward contracts, swaps (including credit default swaps on mortgage-related and asset-backed securities), options on swaps and other credit derivatives, as a substitute for investing directly in an underlying asset, to increase returns, to manage interest rate risk, or as part of a hedging strategy. Swap agreements can be used to transfer the credit risk of a security without actually transferring ownership of the security or to customize exposure to particular credits. To enhance current income, the fund also may engage in a series of purchase and sale contracts or forward roll transactions in which the fund sells a mortgage-related security, for example, to a financial institution and simultaneously agrees to purchase a similar security from the institution at a later date at an agreed-upon price. The fund may purchase and sell securities, including mortgage dollar rolls, in advance through forward commitment transactions, in which the fund agrees to buy or sell a security in the future at a price agreed upon today. The fund may seek to obtain market exposure to the securities in which it primarily invests by entering into the foregoing transactions and investment techniques.
An investment in the fund is not a bank deposit. It is not insured or guaranteed by the FDIC or any other government agency. It is not a complete investment program. The value of your investment in the fund will fluctuate, sometimes dramatically, which means you could lose money.
* Interest rate risk. Prices of certain mortgage-related and other debt securities tend to move inversely with changes in interest rates. Typically, a rise in rates will adversely affect the prices of these securities and, accordingly, the fund's share price. Mortgage-related securities can have a different interest rate sensitivity than other bonds, however, because of prepayments and other factors. Ginnie Maes carry additional risks and may be more volatile than other types of debt securities due to unexpected changes in interest rates. The longer the effective maturity and duration of the fund's fixed-income portfolio, the more the fund's share price is likely to react to interest rates. For example, the market price of a fixed-income security with a duration of three years would be expected to decline 3% if interest rates rose 1%. Conversely, the market price of the same security would be expected to increase 3% if interest rates fell 1%.
* Mortgage-related securities risk. Mortgage-related securities are complex derivative instruments, subject to credit, prepayment and extension risk, and may be more volatile and less liquid, and more difficult to price accurately, than more traditional debt securities. The fund is subject to the credit risk associated with these securities, including the market's perception of the creditworthiness of the issuing federal agency, as well as the credit quality of the underlying assets. Although certain mortgage-related securities are guaranteed as to the timely payment of interest and principal by a third party (such as a U.S. government agency or instrumentality with respect to government-related mortgage-backed securities) the market prices for such securities are not guaranteed and will fluctuate. Privately issued mortgage-related securities also are subject to credit risks associated with the performance of the underlying mortgage properties, and may be more volatile and less liquid than more traditional government-backed debt securities. As with other interest-bearing securities, the prices of certain mortgage-related securities are inversely affected by changes in interest rates. However, although the value of a mortgage-related security may decline when interest rates rise, the converse is not necessarily true, since in periods of declining interest rates the mortgages underlying the security are more likely to be prepaid causing the fund to purchase new securities at current market rates, which usually will be lower. The loss of higher yielding underlying mortgages and the reinvestment of proceeds at lower interest rates can reduce the fund's potential price gain in response to falling interest rates, reduce the fund's yield or cause the fund's share price to fall. Moreover, with respect to certain stripped mortgage-backed securities, if the underlying mortgage securities experience greater than anticipated prepayments of principal, the fund may fail to fully recoup its initial investment even if the securities are rated in the highest rating category by a nationally recognized statistical rating organization. When interest rates rise, the effective duration of the fund's mortgage-related and other asset-backed securities may lengthen due to a drop in prepayments of the underlying mortgages or other assets. This is known as extension risk and would increase the fund's sensitivity to rising interest rates and its potential for price declines.
* Liquidity risk. When there is little or no active trading market for specific types of securities, it can become more difficult to sell the securities at or near their perceived value. In such a market, the value of such securities and the fund's share price may fall dramatically, even during periods of declining interest rates. Liquidity risk also exists when a particular derivative instrument is difficult to purchase or sell. If a derivative transaction is particularly large or if the relevant market is illiquid (as is the case with many privately negotiated derivatives, including swap agreements), it may not be possible to initiate a transaction or liquidate a position at an advantageous time or price.
* Portfolio turnover risk. The fund may engage in short-term trading, which could produce higher transaction costs and taxable distributions, and lower the fund's after-tax performance. The fund's forward roll transactions will increase its portfolio turnover rate.
* Derivatives risk. A small investment in derivatives could have a potentially large impact on the fund's performance. The use of derivatives involves risks different from, or possibly greater than, the risks associated with investing directly in the underlying assets. Derivatives can be highly volatile, illiquid and difficult to value, and there is the risk that changes in the value of a derivative held by the fund will not correlate with the underlying instruments or the fund's other investments. Derivative instruments, such as swaps, forward contracts and other over-the-counter transactions, also involve the risk that a loss may be sustained as a result of the failure of the counterparty to the derivative instruments to make required payments or otherwise comply with the derivative instruments' terms. Many of the regulatory protections afforded participants on organized exchanges for futures contracts and exchange-traded options, such as the performance guarantee of an exchange clearing house, are not available in connection with over-the-counter derivative transactions. Certain types of derivatives, including swaps, forward contracts and other over-the-counter transactions, involve greater risks than the underlying obligations because, in addition to general market risks, they are subject to illiquidity risk, counterparty risk, credit risk and pricing risk. Because many derivatives have a leverage component, adverse changes in the value or level of the underlying asset, reference rate or index can result in a loss substantially greater than the amount invested in the derivative itself. Certain derivatives have the potential for unlimited loss, regardless of the size of the initial investment. The fund may be required to segregate liquid assets, or otherwise cover its obligations, relating to the fund's transactions in derivatives.
In addition to the principal risks described above, the fund is subject to the following additional risks.
* Leverage risk. The use of leverage, such as such as borrowing money to purchase securities, engaging in reverse repurchase agreements, lending portfolio securities, entering into futures contracts, and engaging in forward commitment transactions, may magnify the fund's gains or losses. Additionally, certain derivatives may involve leverage, which could result in a loss substantially greater than the amount invested in the derivative itself. Certain derivatives have the potential for unlimited loss, regardless of the size of the investment.
* Inflation-indexed security risk. Interest payments on inflation-indexed securities can be unpredictable and will vary as the principal and/or interest is periodically adjusted based on the rate of inflation. If the index measuring inflation falls, the interest payable on these securities will be reduced. The U.S. Treasury has guaranteed that in the event of a drop in prices, it would repay the par amount of its inflation-indexed securities. Inflation-indexed securities issued by corporations generally do not guarantee repayment of principal. Any increase in the principal amount of an inflation-indexed security will be considered taxable ordinary income, even though investors do not receive their principal until maturity. As a result, the fund may be required to make annual distributions to shareholders that exceed the cash the fund received, which may cause the fund to liquidate certain investments when it is not advantageous to do so. Also, if the principal value of an inflation-indexed security is adjusted downward due to deflation, amounts previously distributed may be characterized in some circumstances as a return of capital.
* Other potential risks. The fund may lend its portfolio securities to brokers, dealers and other financial institutions. In connection with such loans, the fund will receive collateral from the borrower equal to at least 100% of the value of loaned securities. If the borrower of the securities fails financially, there could be delays in recovering the loaned securities or exercising rights to the collateral.
Under adverse market conditions, the fund could invest some or all of its assets in U.S. Treasury securities and money market securities. Although the fund would do this for temporary defensive purposes, it could reduce the benefit from any upswing in the market. During such periods, the fund may not achieve its investment objective.
Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses of the fund carefully before investing. Download a prospectus, or a summary prospectus, if available, that contains this and other information about the fund, and read it carefully before investing.