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 fixed-income securities of U.S. and foreign issuers rated investment grade or the unrated equivalent as determined by The Dreyfus Corporation. These securities include: U.S. government bonds and notes, corporate bonds, municipal bonds, convertible securities, preferred stocks, inflation-indexed securities, asset-backed securities, mortgage-related securities (including CMOs), and foreign bonds.
Typically, the fund's portfolio can be expected to have an average effective maturity ranging between five and ten years and an average effective duration ranging between three and eight years. The fund may invest in individual fixed-income securities of any maturity or duration. 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. 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.
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.
For additional yield, the fund may invest up to 20% of its assets in fixed-income securities rated below investment grade ("high yield" or "junk" bonds) to as low as Caa/CCC or the unrated equivalent as determined by The Dreyfus Corporation.
The fund will focus on U.S. securities, but may invest up to 30% of its total assets in fixed-income securities of foreign issuers (i.e., securities issued by companies organized under the laws of countries other than the U.S. or securities issued by foreign governments), including those of issuers in emerging markets.
The portfolio managers buy and sell fixed-income securities based on credit quality, financial outlook and yield potential. Fixed-income securities with deteriorating credit quality are potential sell candidates, while those offering higher yields 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. Although the fund invests primarily in investment grade bonds, the fund may invest to a limited extent in high yield bonds. High yield ("junk") bonds involve greater credit risk, including the risk of default, than investment grade bonds, and are considered predominantly speculative with respect to the issuer's ability to make principal and interest payments. The prices of high yield bonds can fall dramatically in response to bad news about the issuer or its industry, or the economy in general.
* 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. Investments in foreign securities tend to have greater exposure to liquidity risk than domestic securities. 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.
* 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.
* 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. Securities of issuers located in emerging markets can be more volatile and less liquid than those of issuers in more developed economies.
* 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.
Please see 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.