Fund Goal and Approach
The fund seeks high after-tax total return.To pursue its goal, the fund normally invests at least 80% of its net assets, plus any borrowings for investment purposes, in bonds (or other instruments with similar economic characteristics). The fund normally invests at least 65% of its net assets in municipal bonds that provide income exempt from federal personal income tax. The fund may invest up to 35% of its net assets in taxable bonds and may invest, without limitation, in municipal bonds, the income from which is subject to the federal alternative minimum tax. The fund invests principally in the following:
* municipal bonds;
* bonds issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government or its agencies or instrumentalities;
* corporate bonds;
* mortgage-related securities;
* asset-backed securities; and
* bonds of foreign governments and companies (limited to up to 15% of the fund's assets, including emerging market bonds).
The fund also may invest in money market instruments and other short-term debt instruments.
The fund invests principally in bonds rated investment grade (i.e., Baa/BBB or higher) at the time of purchase or, if unrated, determined to be of comparable quality by the fund's subadviser. The fund is permitted to invest up to 25% of its assets, in the aggregate, in fixed-income securities rated below investment grade ("high yield" or "junk" bonds) or, if unrated, determined to be of comparable quality by the fund's subadviser, with up to 15% of the fund's assets in such securities that are taxable and up to 10% of its assets in such securities that are tax exempt.
The fund's portfolio managers seek relative value opportunities within the municipal bond market and to selectively invest in taxable securities that may offer the potential to enhance after-tax total return and/or reduce volatility. In selecting securities, the portfolio managers use a combination of fundamental credit analysis and macro-economic and quantitative inputs. The portfolio managers focus on identifying undervalued sectors and securities and select municipal bonds by (i) 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 (ii) investing in various sectors based on apparent relative values.
The fund generally maintains an effective portfolio duration of seven years or less. The fund does not have any restrictions on its average effective portfolio maturity or on the maturity or duration of the individual bonds the fund may purchase. Duration is an estimate of the sensitivity of the price (the value of the principal) of a fixed-income security to a change in interest rates.
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.
* 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. 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. 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. Bonds rated investment grade when purchased by the fund may subsequently be downgraded.
* 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%.
* 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.
* 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.
* Mortgage-related securities risk. Mortgage-related securities are complex derivative instruments, subject to credit, prepayment and extension risk, and may be more volatile and less liquid, and more difficult to price accurately, than more traditional debt securities. The fund is subject to the credit risk associated with these securities, including the market's perception of the creditworthiness of the issuing federal agency, as well as the credit quality of the underlying assets. Although certain mortgage-related securities are guaranteed as to the timely payment of interest and principal by a third party (such as a U.S. government agency or instrumentality with respect to government-related mortgage-backed securities) the market prices for such securities are not guaranteed and will fluctuate. Declining interest rates may result in the prepayment of higher yielding underlying mortgages and the reinvestment of proceeds at lower interest rates can reduce the fund's potential price gain in response to falling interest rates, reduce the fund's yield or cause the fund's share price to fall (prepayment risk). Rising interest rates may result in a drop in prepayments of the underlying mortgages, which would increase the fund┐s sensitivity to rising interest rates and its potential for price declines (extension risk).
* Asset-backed securities risk. General downturns in the economy could cause the value of asset backed securities to fall. In addition, asset-backed securities present certain risks that are not presented by mortgage-backed securities. Primarily, these securities may provide the fund with a less effective security interest in the related collateral than do mortgage-backed securities. Therefore, there is the possibility that recoveries on the underlying collateral may not, in some cases, be available to support payments on these securities.
* 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.
* 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.
* Value investing risk. Value investing involves the risk that investments may never reach their value, either because the market fails to recognize their intrinsic worth or the expected value was misgauged. These investments also may decline in price even though in theory they are already undervalued.
* 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, particularly those of issuers located in emerging markets, 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.
* 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.
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.