Fund Goal and Approach
The fund seeks to provide a high level of interest income exempt from federal income tax, while seeking preservation of shareholders' capital.To pursue its goal, the fund normally invests at least 80% of its net assets, plus any borrowings for investment purposes, in municipal bonds that provide income exempt from federal personal income tax.
The fund invests exclusively in fixed-income securities rated, at the time of purchase, investment grade (i.e., Baa/BBB or higher) or the unrated equivalent as determined by Dreyfus, with an emphasis on high grade securities. The dollar-weighted average effective maturity of the fund's portfolio generally will be between 3 and 10 years, but the fund may invest in individual securities of any maturity. Dollar-weighted average effective maturity is an average of the maturities of the bonds held by the fund directly and the bonds underlying derivative instruments entered into by the fund, based on their dollar-weighted proportions in the fund, adjusted to reflect provisions or market conditions that may cause a bond's principal to be repaid earlier than at its stated maturity.
The portfolio managers focus on identifying undervalued sectors and securities and minimize the use of interest rate forecasting. The portfolio managers select municipal bonds for the fund's portfolio by:
* Using fundamental credit analysis to estimate the relative value and attractiveness of various sectors and securities and to exploit pricing inefficiencies in the municipal bond market; and
* Actively trading among various sectors, such as pre-refunded, general obligation and revenue, based on their apparent relative values. The fund seeks to invest in several of these sectors.
Although the fund seeks to provide income exempt from federal income tax, income from some of the fund's holdings may be subject to the federal alternative minimum tax (AMT). In addition, the fund may invest up to 20% of its net assets in taxable fixed-income securities.
Although not a principal investment strategy, the fund may, but is not required to, use derivatives, such as options, futures and options on futures (including those relating to securities, indexes and interest rates), and swap agreements (including interest rate and credit default swap agreements), as a substitute for investing directly in an underlying asset, to increase returns, to manage credit or interest rate risk, or as part of a hedging strategy. The fund may buy securities that pay interest at rates that float inversely with changes in prevailing interest rates (inverse floaters). Inverse floaters are created by depositing municipal bonds in a trust which divides the bond's income stream into two parts: a short term variable rate demand note and a residual interest bond (the inverse floater) which receives interest based on the remaining cash flow of the trust after payment of interest on the note and various trust expenses. Interest on the inverse floater usually moves in the opposite direction as the interest on the variable rate demand note. The fund also may make forward commitments in which the fund agrees to buy or sell a security in the future at a price agreed upon today.
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.
* Municipal securities risk. The amount of public information available about municipal securities is generally less than that for corporate equities or bonds. Special factors, such as legislative changes, and state and local economic and business developments, may adversely affect the yield and/or value of the fund's investments in municipal securities. Other factors include the general conditions of the municipal securities market, the size of the particular offering, the maturity of the obligation and the rating of the issue. Changes in economic, business or political conditions relating to a particular municipal project, municipality, or state, territory or possession of the United States in which the fund invests may have an impact on the fund's share price.
* 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. 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%.
* 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, 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. The secondary market for certain municipal bonds tends to be less well developed or liquid than many other securities markets, which may adversely affect the fund's ability to sell such municipal bonds at attractive prices.
* 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.
In addition to the principal risks described above, the fund is subject to the following additional risks:
* Market sector risk. The fund may significantly overweight or underweight certain industries or market sectors, which may cause the fund's performance to be more or less sensitive to developments affecting those industries or sectors.
* Tax risk. To be tax-exempt, municipal obligations generally must meet certain regulatory requirements. If any such municipal obligation fails to meet these regulatory requirements, the interest received by the fund from its investment in such obligations and distributed to fund shareholders will be taxable.
* 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 swap agreements, forward contracts and over-the-counter options, 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 swap agreements, 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. These requirements assume the obligation is for full payment of the value of the underlying instrument, in cash or by physical delivery, at the settlement date; thus, the fund must set aside liquid assets equal to such derivatives contract's full notional value (generally, the total numerical value of the asset underlying a derivatives contract at the time of valuation) while the positions are open. If the derivatives contract provides for periodic cash settlement during the term of the transaction or cash payment of the gain or loss under the transaction at the settlement date, the fund may segregate liquid assets in an amount equal to the fund's daily marked-to-market net obligation (i.e., the fund's daily net liability) under the contract, if any. By setting aside assets equal to only its net obligations, the fund may employ leverage to a greater extent than if the fund were required to segregate assets equal to the full notional value of such contracts. Certain derivatives may cause taxable income. Future rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission may impact the fund's operations as described in this prospectus.
* Leverage risk. The use of leverage, such as entering into futures contracts, engaging in forward commitment transactions, and investing in inverse floaters, may cause taxable income and may magnify the fund's gains or losses.
* 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.