Fund Goal and Approach
The fund seeks to maximize total return. 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 the securities of emerging market issuers and other investments that are tied economically to emerging market countries. The fund normally allocates its investments among emerging market equities, bonds and currencies. Emerging market countries generally are those countries defined as having an emerging or developing economy by the World Bank or its related organizations, or the United Nations or its authorities, as well as any other country the fund's portfolio managers believe has an emerging economy or market. The emerging market countries in which the fund may invest currently include, but are not limited to, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The portfolio construction process starts with the fund's portfolio managers assessing the risk and return expectations of equities, bonds and currencies for each emerging market country over a 12-month period. These expectations are guided primarily by the portfolio managers' common global macro-economic view and top-down country-specific outlooks. Moreover, these expectations also reflect the portfolio managers' bottom-up valuation assessments of individual securities. The fund's assets are then allocated to the more attractive emerging market asset classes and countries. The portfolio managers seek to reduce volatility and country concentration risk generally by constructing a liquid and diversified, from an asset class and country perspective, portfolio. Generally, the allocation to emerging market bonds and currencies ranges between 25% and 75% of the fund's assets. However, there is no maximum or minimum constraint on the amount of assets required to be invested in any one asset class or country, and, from time to time, the fund's investments may be concentrated in a limited number of foreign countries or a single asset class.
After making asset and country allocation decisions, the portfolio managers select individual securities for the fund's portfolio. The fund may invest in the securities of companies of any market capitalization and fixed-income securities of any credit quality, maturity or duration. The fund may invest in U.S. dollar-denominated securities or securities denominated in euros or the local currency of issue.
In choosing bonds and currency investments for the fund, the portfolio managers rely on in-depth fundamental analysis. The portfolio managers seek to anticipate shifts in country fundamentals and their impact on bond and currency valuations. Bond selection is underpinned by a detailed assessment of sovereign risk, which encompasses an analysis of debt sustainability, liquidity, inflation expectations, and institutional factors. In considering the attractiveness of local currency exposures (through investment in forward contracts, bonds or equities), the portfolio managers focus, among other things, on the balance of payments outlook for the relevant country. The fund's emerging market bond investments may include bonds and other debt issued by governments, their agencies and instrumentalities, or by central banks, corporate debt securities, and other fixed-income securities or instruments that provide investment exposure to emerging market debt. Certain emerging market countries in which the fund may invest have sovereign ratings that are below investment grade or are unrated. Moreover, the corporate debt securities in which the fund may invest may be rated below investment grade ("high yield" or "junk" bonds) or the unrated equivalent as determined by The Dreyfus Corporation.
In choosing equity investments for the fund, the portfolio managers rely on in-depth fundamental analysis supported by proprietary quantitative models. A preference is given to companies whose business is focused on domestic consumption. The portfolio managers seek to identify attractive stocks with low relative price multiples and positive trends in earnings forecasts. The quantitative models used by the portfolio managers combine relative value characteristics (such as price/earnings and price/book ratios) and relative growth characteristics (estimated trends and revision ratios) to create a relative attractiveness score for each stock. The portfolio managers' fundamental analysis includes qualitatively reviewing the more attractively ranked stocks to assess the sustainability of a company's business momentum by analyzing the company's financial statements and meeting with management, suppliers, customers and competitors. The fund invests this portion of its portfolio principally in common stocks, but its equity investments also may include preferred stocks, convertible securities and warrants, including those purchased in initial public offerings (IPOs) or shortly thereafter. The fund also may invest in depositary receipts, such as American Depositary Receipts and Global Depositary Receipts, which represent indirect ownership interest in the publicly-traded securities of non-U.S. issuers. The fund may purchase depositary receipts through a sponsored facility, which is established jointly by the issuer of the underlying security and a depositary, or an unsponsored facility, which is established without participation by the issuer of the underlying security.
The fund may, but is not required to, use derivative instruments, such as options, futures and options on futures (including those relating to securities, indexes, foreign currencies and interest rates), forward contracts and swaps, as a substitute for investing directly in equities, bonds and currencies, to increase returns, to manage credit, interest rate or currency risk, to manage the effective maturity or duration of the fund's portfolio, as part of a hedging strategy, or for other purposes related to the management of the fund. Derivatives may be entered into on established exchanges or through privately negotiated transactions referred to as over-the-counter derivatives. Futures contracts generally are standardized, exchange-traded contracts that provide for the sale or purchase of a specified financial instrument or currency at a future time at a specified price. An option on a futures contract gives the purchaser the right (and the writer of the option the obligation) to assume a position in a futures contract at a specified exercise price within a specified period of time. The fund may engage in futures transactions on both U.S. and foreign exchanges. A forward contract involves an obligation to purchase or sell a specific currency at a future date at a price set at the time of the contract. The fund also may enter into swap agreements, which can be used to transfer the rights to one set of financial assets or liabilities in exchange for another set. The financial assets may be cash flows, currencies, returns, or other items of a financial nature. The fund may gain exposure to certain issuers and markets by investing in participatory notes issued by banks, broker/dealers and other financial institutions or other structured or derivative instruments that are designed to replicate, or otherwise provide exposure to, the performance of such issuers and markets. The fund may invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to provide exposure to certain asset classes.
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.
* Allocation risk. The ability of the fund to achieve its investment goal depends, in part, on the ability of the fund's portfolio manager to allocate effectively the fund's assets among emerging market equities, bonds and currencies. There can be no assurance that the actual allocations will be effective in achieving the fund's investment goal.
* Correlation risk. Although the prices of equity securities and fixed-income securities, as well as other asset classes, often rise and fall at different times so that a fall in the price of one may be offset by a rise in the price of the other, in down markets the prices of these securities and asset classes can also fall in tandem. Because the fund allocates its investments among different asset classes, the fund is subject to correlation risk.
* 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. To the extent the fund's investment are concentrated in a limited number of foreign countries, the fund's performance could be more volatile than that of more geographically diversified funds.
* Emerging market risk. The securities of issuers located in emerging markets tend to be more volatile and less liquid than securities of issuers located in more mature economies, and emerging markets generally have less diverse and less mature economic structures and less stable political systems than those of developed countries. The securities of issuers located or doing substantial business in emerging markets are often subject to rapid and large changes in price.
* Foreign currency risk. Investments in foreign currencies are subject to the risk that those currencies will decline in value relative to the U.S. dollar or, in the case of hedged positions, that the U.S. dollar will decline relative to the currency being hedged. Currency exchange rates may fluctuate significantly over short periods of time. Foreign currencies are also subject to risks caused by inflation, interest rates, budget deficits and low savings rates, political factors and government intervention and controls.
* Foreign government obligations and securities of supranational entities risk. Investing in foreign government obligations and the sovereign debt of emerging market countries creates exposure to the direct or indirect consequences of political, social or economic changes in the countries that issue the securities or in which the issuers are located. Factors which may influence the ability or willingness of a foreign government or country to service debt include a country's cash flow situation, the availability of sufficient foreign exchange on the date a payment is due, the relative size of its debt service burden to the economy as a whole and its government's policy towards the International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other international agencies, the obligor's balance of payments, including export performance, its access to international credits and investments, fluctuations in interest rates and the extent of its foreign reserves. A governmental obligor may default on its obligations. These risks are heightened with respect to emerging market countries.
* 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 weakness in the stock market or because of factors that affect the company or its particular industry.
* 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. 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 continuing ability to make principal and interest payments.
* 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%.
* 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 at or near their perceived value. In such a market, the value of such securities and the fund's share price may fall dramatically. Investments in foreign securities, particularly those of issuers located in emerging markets, tend to have greater exposure to liquidity risk than domestic securities.
* 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. Certain types of derivatives, including swaps, 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.
* Non-diversification risk. The fund is non-diversified, which means that the fund may invest a relatively high percentage of its assets in a limited number of issuers. Therefore, the fund's performance may be more vulnerable to changes in the market value of a single issuer or group of issuers and more susceptible to risks associated with a single economic, political or regulatory occurrence than a diversified fund.
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.