Fund Goal and Approach
The fund seeks total return (consisting of capital appreciation and 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 equity securities. The fund seeks to focus on dividend paying stocks and other investments and investment techniques that provide income. The investment adviser chooses stocks through a disciplined investment process that combines computer modeling techniques, fundamental analysis and risk management.
The fund may invest in stocks with either value or growth characteristics. The fund's investment process is designed to provide investors with broad exposure to the investment characteristics and different sectors of the Standard & Poor's 500® Composite Stock Price Index (S&P 500 Index) with an emphasis on higher dividend paying stocks within each market segment. The S&P 500 Index is an unmanaged index of 500 common stocks chosen to reflect the industries of the U.S. economy. The fund invests principally in common stocks, but its equity investments also may include preferred stocks, real estate investment trust ("REIT") securities, convertible securities and American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), including those purchased in initial public offerings (IPOs). Preferred stock is a class of capital stock that typically pays dividends at a specified rate. Convertible securities are securities that have characteristics similar to both fixed-income and equity securities. The fund considers convertible securities in which it invests to be equity securities. Convertible securities may be converted at either a stated price or stated rate into underlying shares of the issuer's common stock. The fund also may invest in fixed-income securities and money market instruments.
In selecting securities, the fund's portfolio managers use a proprietary computer model to identify and rank stocks within an industry or sector, based on several characteristics, including:
* value, or how a stock is priced relative to its perceived intrinsic worth
* growth, in this case the sustainability or growth of earnings
* financial profile, which measures the financial health of the company
Next, based on fundamental analysis, the portfolio managers generally select the most attractive of the higher ranked securities, drawing on a variety of sources, including internal as well as Wall Street research and company management.
Finally, the portfolio managers manage risk by diversifying across companies and industries, seeking to limit the potential adverse impact from any one stock or industry. The fund may at times overweight certain sectors in attempting to achieve higher yields.
The portfolio managers monitor the holdings in the fund's portfolio, and consider selling a security if the company's relative attractiveness deteriorates or if valuation becomes excessive. The portfolio managers also may sell a security if an event occurs that contradicts the portfolio managers' rationale for owning it, such as deterioration in the company's fundamentals. In addition, the portfolio managers may sell a security if better investment opportunities emerge elsewhere.
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 stocks and indexes), as a substitute for investing directly in an underlying asset, to increase returns or income, or as part of a hedging strategy.
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.
* Risks of stock investing. Stocks generally fluctuate more in value than bonds and may decline significantly over short time periods. There is the chance that stock prices overall will decline because stock markets tend to move in cycles, with periods of rising prices and falling prices. The market value of a stock may decline due to general market conditions that are not related to the 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, 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.
* Growth and value stock risk. By investing in a mix of growth and value companies, the fund assumes the risks of both. Investors often expect growth companies to increase their earnings at a certain rate. If these expectations are not met, investors can punish the stocks inordinately, even if earnings do increase. In addition, growth stocks may lack the dividend yield that may cushion stock prices in market downturns. Value stocks involve the risk that they may never reach their expected full market value, either because the market fails to recognize the stock's intrinsic worth, or the expected value was misgauged. They also may decline in price even though in theory they are already undervalued.
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 companies, industries or market sectors, which may cause the fund's performance to be more or less sensitive to developments affecting those companies, industries or sectors.
* Preferred stock risk. Preferred stock is a class of a capital stock that typically pays dividends at a specified rate. Preferred stock is generally senior to common stock, but subordinate to debt securities, with respect to the payment of dividends and on liquidation of the issuer. The market value of preferred stock generally decreases when interest rates rise and is also affected by the issuer's ability to make payments on the preferred stock.
* Convertible securities risk. Convertible securities may be converted at either a stated price or stated rate into underlying shares of common stock. Convertible securities generally are subordinated to other similar but non-convertible securities of the same issuer. Although to a lesser extent than with fixed-income securities, the market value of convertible securities tends to decline as interest rates increase. In addition, because of the conversion feature, the market value of convertible securities tends to vary with fluctuations in the market value of the underlying common stock. Although convertible securities provide for a stable stream of income, they are subject to the risk that their issuers may default on their obligations. Convertible securities also offer the potential for capital appreciation through the conversion feature, although there can be no assurance of capital appreciation because securities prices fluctuate. Convertible securities generally offer lower interest or dividend yields than non-convertible securities of similar quality because of the potential for capital appreciation.
* REIT risk. Equity REITs, which invest a majority of their assets directly in real property and derive income primarily from the collection of rents and lease payments, may be affected by changes in the value of the underlying property owned by the trust, while mortgage REITs, which invest the majority of their assets in real estate mortgages and derive income primarily from the collection of interest payments, may be affected by the quality of any credit extended. Further, REITs are highly dependent upon management skill and often are not diversified. REITs also are subject to heavy cash flow dependency and to defaults by borrowers or lessees. In addition, REITs possibly could fail to qualify for favorable tax treatment under applicable U.S. or foreign law and/or to maintain exempt status under the Investment Company Act of 1940. Certain REITs provide for a specified term of existence in their trust documents. Such REITs run the risk of liquidating at an economically disadvantageous time.
* IPO risk. The prices of securities purchased in IPOs can be very volatile. The effect of IPOs on the fund's performance depends on a variety of factors, including the number of IPOs the fund invests in relative to the size of the fund and whether and to what extent a security purchased in an IPO appreciates or depreciates in value. As a fund's asset base increases, IPOs often have a diminished effect on such fund's performance.
* 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 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 over-the-counter options 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. Future rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission may impact the fund's operations as described in this prospectus.
* 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.
The fund may invest in ADRs, which represent indirect ownership of securities issued by foreign companies. The securities of foreign issuers carry additional risks, such as less liquidity, changes in currency exchange rates, a lack of comprehensive company information, differing auditing and legal standards and political and economic instability.
Any investment in fixed-income securities will be subject primarily to interest rate and credit risks. Prices of bonds tend to move inversely with changes in interest rates. Typically, a rise in rates will adversely affect bond prices and, to the extent the fund invests in bonds, the fund's share price. The longer the effective maturity and duration of these investments, the more likely the fund's share price will react to interest rates. Credit risk is the risk that the issuer of the security will fail to make timely interest or principal payments, and includes the possibility that any of the fund's fixed-income investments will have its credit rating downgraded. 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 is payment obligations.
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.