Fund Goal and Approach
The fund seeks returns that exceed the rate of inflation. To pursue its goal, the fund normally invests at least 80% of its net assets, plus any borrowings for investment purposes, in inflation-indexed securities. These are fixed-income securities designed to protect investors from a loss of value due to inflation by periodically adjusting their principal and/or coupon according to the rate of inflation. The inflation-indexed securities issued by the U.S. Treasury and some foreign government issuers, for example, accrue inflation into the principal value of the bond. Other issuers may pay out the Consumer Price Index accruals as part of a semi-annual coupon.
The fund primarily invests in high quality, U.S. dollar-denominated, inflation-indexed securities. To a limited extent, the fund may invest in foreign currency-denominated, inflation-protected securities and other fixed-income securities not adjusted for inflation which are rated investment grade or the unrated equivalent as determined by The Dreyfus Corporation. Such other fixed-income securities may include: U.S. government bonds and notes, corporate bonds, mortgage-related securities and asset-backed securities.
Credit ratings are determined by independent rating organizations that analyze and evaluate a bond issuer's, and/or any credit enhancer's, credit profile and ability to repay debts. Based on their assessment, these rating organizations assign letter grades that reflect the issuer's, and/or any credit enhancer's, creditworthiness. AAA or Aaa represents the highest credit rating, AA/Aa the second highest, and so on down to D, for defaulted debt. Bonds rated BBB or Baa and above are considered investment grade.
The fund seeks to keep the average effective duration of its portfolio at two to ten years. The fund may invest in individual fixed-income securities of any maturity or duration. The fund may adjust its portfolio holdings or average effective duration based on actual or anticipated changes in interest rates or credit quality. Duration is an indication of an investment's "interest rate risk," or how sensitive an investment or the fund's portfolio may be to changes in interest rates. Generally, the longer a fund's duration, the more it will react to interest rate fluctuations and the greater its long- term risk/return potential.
The portfolio managers buy and sell fixed-income securities based on valuation and changes in outlook for interest rates and inflation. Fixed-income securities with valuations expected to cheapen may be sold, while those offering more attractive valuation for the expected interest rate environment are potential buy candidates.
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, foreign currencies, indexes and interest rates), forward contracts and swaps, as a substitute for investing directly in an underlying asset, to increase returns, to manage interest rate risk, to manage the effective duration or maturity of the fund's portfolio, or as part of a hedging strategy. The fund may enter into swap agreements, such as interest rate swaps and credit default swaps, which can be used to transfer the interest rate or credit risk of a security without actually transferring ownership of the security or to customize exposure to particular corporate credit. 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 also may engage in short-selling, typically for hedging purposes, such as to limit exposure to a possible market decline in the value of its portfolio securities.
An investment in the fund is not a bank deposit. It is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or any other government agency. It is not a complete investment program. The fund's share price fluctuates, sometimes dramatically, which means you could lose money.
* 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 a 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. Securities issued by the U.S. Treasury or U.S. government agencies generally present minimal credit risk. However, 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. The market prices for such securities are not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* 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.
* 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.
* Foreign investment risk. To the extent the fund invests in foreign securities, the fund's performance will be influenced by political, social and economic factors affecting investments in foreign issuers. Special risks associated with investments in foreign issuers include exposure to currency fluctuations, less liquidity, less developed or less efficient trading markets, lack of comprehensive company information, political and economic instability and differing auditing and legal standards. Investments denominated in foreign currencies are subject to the risk that such currencies will decline in value relative to the U.S. dollar and affect the value of these investments held by the fund.
* 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.
* 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.
Please refer to prospectus for additional Risk Details.
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.