Fund Goal and Approach
The fund seeks to match the total return of the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index. Total return includes changes in the fund's share price as well as interest income. This objective may be changed by the fund's board, upon 60 days' prior notice to shareholders. To pursue its goal, the fund normally invests at least 80% of its net assets, plus any borrowings for investment purposes, in bonds that are included in the index. Index funds are mutual funds that are designed to meet the performance of an underlying benchmark index. In seeking to match index performance, the manager uses a passive management approach and purchases all or a representative sample of the bonds comprising the benchmark index. Because the fund has expenses, performance will tend to be slightly lower than that of the target benchmark. To maintain liquidity, the fund may invest up to 20% of its assets in various short-term, fixed-income securities and money market instruments.
The fund attempts to have a correlation between its performance and that of the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index of at least .95 before expenses. A correlation of 1.00 would mean that the fund and the index were perfectly correlated.
The fund's investments are selected by a "sampling" process, which is a statistical process used to select bonds so that the fund has investment characteristics that closely approximate those of the index. By using this sampling process, the fund typically will not invest in all of the securities in the index.
The Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index is a broad-based, unmanaged index that covers the U.S. dollar-denominated, investment grade (Baa/BBB or higher), fixed-rate, taxable bond market of SEC-registered securities. The index includes bonds from the U.S. Treasury, U.S. government-related, corporate, mortgage-backed securities, asset-backed securities and commercial mortgage-backed securities sectors. Most of the bonds in the index are issued by the U.S. Treasury and other U.S. government and agency issuers. Barclays is not affiliated with the fund, and it does not sell or endorse the fund, nor does it guarantee the performance of the fund or the index.
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.
* Indexing strategy risk. The fund uses an indexing strategy. It does not attempt to manage market volatility, use defensive strategies or reduce the effects of any long-term periods of poor index performance. The correlation between fund and index performance may be affected by the fund's expenses and use of sampling techniques, changes in securities markets, changes in the composition of the index and the timing of purchases and redemptions of fund shares.
* 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. Declining interest rates may result in the prepayment 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 (prepayment risk). Rising interest rates may result in a drop in prepayments of the underlying mortgages, which would increase the fund's sensitivity to rising interest rates and its potential for price declines (extension risk).
* Asset-backed securities risk. General downturns in the economy could cause the value of asset-backed securities to fall. In addition, asset-backed securities present certain risks that are not presented by mortgage-backed securities. Primarily, these securities may provide the fund with a less effective security interest in the related collateral than do mortgage-backed securities. Therefore, there is the possibility that recoveries on the underlying collateral may not, in some cases, be available to support payments on these securities.
* Government securities risk. Not all obligations of the U.S. government, its agencies and instrumentalities are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. Treasury. Some obligations are backed only by the credit of the issuing agency or instrumentality, and in some cases there may be some risk of default by the issuer. Any guarantee by the U.S. government or its agencies or instrumentalities of a security held by the fund does not apply to the market value of such security or to shares of the fund itself. A security backed by the U.S. Treasury or the full faith and credit of the United States is guaranteed only as to the timely payment of interest and principal when held to maturity. In addition, because many types of U.S. government securities trade actively outside the United States, their prices may rise and fall as changes in global economic conditions affect the demand for these securities.
* Interest rate risk. Prices of bonds tend to move inversely with changes in interest rates. Typically, a rise in rates will adversely affect bond prices and, accordingly, the fund's share price. 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.
* Credit risk. Failure of an issuer to make timely interest or principal payments, or a decline or perception of a decline in the credit quality of a bond, can cause the bond's price to fall, potentially lowering the fund's share price. The lower a bond's credit rating, the greater the chance ¿ in the rating agency's opinion ¿ that the bond issuer will default or fail to meet its payment obligations.
* 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 in a timely manner at or near their perceived value. In such a market, the value of such securities and the fund's share price may fall dramatically.
In addition to the principal risks described above, the fund is subject to the following additional risks:
* Call risk. Some bonds give the issuer the option to call, or redeem, the bonds before their maturity date. If an issuer "calls" its bond during a time of declining interest rates, the fund might have to reinvest the proceeds in an investment offering a lower yield, and therefore might not benefit from any increase in value as a result of declining interest rates. During periods of market illiquidity or rising interest rates, prices of "callable" issues are subject to increased price fluctuation.
* Market risk. The market value of a security may decline due to general
market conditions that are not specifically related to a particular company, such as real or perceived adverse economic conditions, changes in the outlook for corporate earnings, changes in interest or currency rates or adverse investor sentiment generally. A security's market value also may decline because of factors that affect a particular industry or industries, such as labor shortages or increased production costs and competitive conditions within an industry, or factors that affect a particular company, such as management performance, financial leverage, and reduced demand for the company's products or services.
* 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.
To the extent that the fund invests in securities not included in the index to maintain liquidity, it will not achieve its goal of matching the total return of the index.
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.