- 5 Reasons Why Short-Term Municipal Bonds Make Sense Now
- September 26, 2014
By Frank Holmes
CEO and Chief Investment Officer
U.S. Global Investors
Last week Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen insisted that record-low interest rates will stay as they are for a “considerable time.” So what does that mean for bond investors? Many people realize that rising interest rates affect yields and prices, but what others might not know is that if you stick closely to short-term, investment-grade debt securities—the very kind our Near-Term Tax Free Fund (NEARX) invests in—the impact of such a rate hike is not as dramatic as some investors might think.
As you can see in the chart below, NEARX has been a steady grower over the years, in times of rising and falling interest rates as well as extreme market downturns. In fact, it’s taken nearly a decade and a half for the S&P 500 Index to surpass NEARX using a hypothetical $100,000 investment back in June 2000.
Think of NEARX, then, as the emotionally-stable, no-drama fund.
Take a look at the latest performance of the fund here.
Although short-term bonds might not be as sexy as common stocks in fashionable brands like Apple and Tesla, they play an important role in any serious investor’s portfolio. Below are five reasons why investing in municipal bonds makes sense now more than ever.
1. Short-term, investment-grade municipal bonds are less volatile in a climate of rising interest rates.
Interest rates are currently at 50-year lows, but as I wrote about previously, they can’t stay near zero forever. And when rates do rise, bond prices will fall. At first glance, this inverse relationship might seem illogical, but it makes sense. If newly issued bonds carry a higher yield, the value of existing bonds with lower rates fall.
Let’s imagine the Fed raised rates tomorrow. What potential implications would that have on the yield curve and bond prices? As you can see in this hypothetical example using a two-year, 10-year and 30-year Treasury, the farther out the maturity date and higher the rate hike, the more your security would be affected. Remember, these are Treasuries, not municipal bonds, but munis could be similarly affected.
As you might guess, what this indicates is that investors should take advantage of short-term bonds, which are less sensitive to rate increases than longer-term bonds that are locked into rates for greater periods of time.
I want to reassure investors that when the Fed raises rates next year, as many economists and analysts speculate, it will most likely be done incrementally over the course of several months rather than in one fell swoop. Just as deep sea divers risk getting the bends when they surface too fast, there’s economic risk in allowing rates to rise too much too quickly. The Fed is well aware of this.
Below is one research firm’s projection of what rates might look like at different time periods in the future. As you can see, the probability of higher rates rises gradually over time. Some readers might perceive this forecast as too dovish, but it makes the point that an unexpectedly huge rate hike that some investors fear is unlikely.
What the chart also shows is that there’s still time to gain exposure to short-term securities, which are less sensitive to interest rate hikes. NEARX not only invests in such securities but is actively managed by professionals who closely monitor the bond market and interest rate environment.
John Derrick, Director of Research at U.S. Global Investors and portfolio manager of the Near-Term Tax Free Fund, stated during his recent interview with Oxford Club Radio that rising interest rates can actually work in the fund’s favor: “When interest rates rise, we’ll try to step in and use that volatility to our advantage. You just try to be prudent about how you position duration and maturity structure.”
2. Investment-grade munis have a low default risk.
In 2013, your chances of investing in a reliable, secure municipal bond from an issuer that wouldn’t default were roughly 99.9 percent. That’s according to the number of bond issues in the S&P Municipal Bond Index that defaulted last year. Out of more than 21,000 bonds in the index, only 23 failed to meet their payment obligations.
In the table below, you can see there’s a greater likelihood that an issuer won’t default the higher its rating and the shorter its maturity. Bottom line: these securities are relatively safe.
In a July Frank Talk, John held that:
“On a tax-adjusted basis, municipal bonds have a very compelling risk-reward profile, which means the risk-adjusted returns are high. To take advantage of this, I would encourage investors to add exposure to their portfolio by investing in a product that holds high-quality, traditional municipal bonds.”
John reiterated this point during his interview with Oxford Club Radio: “At the end of the day, we stick to the high-quality munis. We really don’t play in the higher yield front, where there’s more of a risk of a correction.”
3. Municipal bonds are tax-free at the federal level.
As you might already know, munis are typically exempt from federal income taxes and often from state and local income taxation as well. This fact is especially appealing to high net worth individuals who want to minimize the tax impact on their investments.
That means more money stays in your pocket and can be reinvested.
4. Munis help diversify your portfolio.
It’s prudent to have a diversified portfolio of both equity and debt securities, not to mention cash and commodities such as gold. Stocks can offer you growth and capital gains while bonds provide income and can help protect your assets during more volatile times.
Even within the bond portion of your portfolio, it’s important to diversify the types of debt securities you’re investing in. NEARX, for instance, holds a wide range of municipal bonds, from school districts to transportation to utilities.
“We’re buying high-quality municipals, GOs [general obligations] and essential service revenue,” John says.
He likes to describe NEARX as a “classic municipal bond fund.”
“We operate in a very conservative manner, probably much more so than most of our peers. It’s not the kind of fund where you’re going to wake up one day and find that some high-yield security has blown up.”
5. Municipal bonds help make America strong.
Speaking of schools, transportation, utilities and other projects, bonds help state and local governments build, repair and maintain much-needed services. This is one of the most compelling reasons to invest in short-term, investment-grade munis. Not only do they have an attractive risk-reward profile and offer tax-free income, they also ensure that municipalities have the funding to provide their citizens with essential needs like education, roads and energy and help build their communities.
Below you can see what some of the largest bond issuances are earmarked for. Without exception, the revenue that bonds generate goes toward services that make America’s states, counties and cities attractive places to live.
Also, there’s reason to believe that issuing bonds is the most effective way for governments to generate the funding necessary for specific undertakings. In a recent POLITICO Magazine article entitled “Are Conservative Cities Better?”, columnist Ethan Epstein shows that whereas some cities and municipalities rely on and raise taxes indefinitely to fund projects and programs, others prefer instead to issue bonds because they’re intended for only one sole purpose:
“[B]ond issues go to specific projects, and cover only a specific amount of money. That’s different from funding a social program, or simply forking over higher taxes and hoping that the extra funds go where the government says they’re going.” “People are OK with investing in their communities,” says former Mesa, Arizona, mayor Scott Smith, adding, “People don’t trust programs. They trust…tangible results.”
However one feels about social programs, Mayor Smith’s point is clear: bonds do precisely what they’re designed to do, namely, fund projects such as hospitals and roads that benefit all citizens, young and old, rich and poor.
Take a Look at NEARX.
The Near-Term Tax Free Fund recently received the coveted five-star rating from Morningstar for the three-year performance period in the Municipal National Short-Term category, and it’s been rated four stars overall for many years. The turnover of NEARX is very low, and it has performed well against its peers. Additionally, the fund seeks preservation of capital and has a floating $2 net asset value (NAV) that has demonstrated minimal fluctuation in its share price.
For those investors who wish to seek tax-free income and portfolio diversity and who want to take an active role in strengthening America’s infrastructure, I encourage you to request an information packet.
Remember to sign up for our October 2 webcast, “One World Market, Many Central Banks: How Will Your Investments Be Impacted?” Participants can receive a continuing education (CE) credit. Also, be sure to download my latest whitepaper, “Managing Expectations: Anticipate Before You Participate in the Market.”
- Major market indices finished lower this week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.96 percent. The S&P 500 Stock Index dropped 1.37 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite declined 1.48 percent. The Russell 2000 small capitalization index fell 2.41 percent this week.
- The Hang Seng Composite fell 2.26 percent; Taiwan declined 2.71 percent and the KOSPI lost 1.08 percent.
- The 10-year Treasury bond yield fell five basis points to 2.53 percent.
Domestic Equity Market
The S&P 500 Index pulled back this week, likely due to normal volatility. The market fell 1.37 percent this week, but currently stands about 2 percent from the all-time intraday high set a week ago. Global growth concerns and Federal Reserve policy shifts were the biggest concerns in the market, although nothing has changed much from a week ago.
- The materials sector outperformed this week as Sigma-Aldrich rose 33.6 percent after being acquired by German pharmaceutical and chemical company Merck in an all-cash deal. CF Industries also rose by more than 7 percent as the company said it is in preliminary discussions to merge with Norway’s Yara International, creating the largest nitrogen fertilizer company in the world.
- The health care sector also outperformed as biotechnology stocks such as Gilead, Biogen Idec and Celgene continued recent outperformance.
- Sigma-Aldrich was the best performer in the S&P 500 as mentioned above, but other well-known names such as Nike, Micron Technology and Bed Bath & Beyond all traded higher in a down week on good earnings results.
- The industrial sector was the worst performer this week. Broad-based weakness was seen across most industry groups. Concerns over the global growth outlook and a stronger U.S. dollar were the biggest contributors to the weaker performance.
- The energy sector was also under pressure as the sentiment around weaker oil prices did not improve.
- CarMax was the worst performer in the S&P 500 this week, falling by 11.33 percent. The company reported disappointing earnings, citing customer purchasing preference for new cars versus used cars.
- The Federal Reserve remains accommodative and other global central banks even more so. This should prove as a strong tailwind for equities.
- The U.S. economy is currently a bright spot in the developed world, potentially allowing money to funnel back into the U.S. equity market.
- The path of least resistance for the market appears higher as this “classic” bull market phase of grinding higher with lower volatility remains intact for now.
- Volatility has been remarkably low and this bull market has been an abnormally smooth ride. This calmness won’t last forever and late summer/early fall has traditionally been more volatile.
- With central banks and earnings off the agenda for next week, the focus will likely be on geopolitical risks.
- Geopolitical tensions remain high, and while the market has been able to shrug off these events so far, an escalation could be the catalyst for a long-awaited correction.
Treasury yields were lower this week, but the two-year portion of the curve continues to inch higher. As seen in the chart below, short-term Treasury yields have moved consistently higher for the past six weeks or so and reflect growing speculation that the Federal Reserve is getting closer to actually raising interest rates. The market is anticipating a move from the Fed by June 2015 and this is being gradually factored into prices. On the other hand, the long end of the yield curve rallied this week, sending yields lower as equities sold off mid-week while the market had a risk-off tone.
- Markit’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) in the U.S. held steady for September at a 52-month high, continuing to bode well for both the U.S. manufacturing sector and the economy overall.
- New home sales rose 18 percent in August, hitting a six-year high and keeping the idea alive that housing could be a positive economic catalyst in the months ahead.
- Truck tonnage hit a new high in August, up 4.5 percent year-over -year. This should be a good read on the health of the economy as well as activity levels.
- While new home sales were solid, existing home sales were weak, falling 1.8 percent in August.
- German business confidence hit a 17-month low in September, now falling for five straight months. This weakness from Germany is a bad sign for Europe, as this country is the heart of manufacturing on the continent.
- Two-year Treasury yields continue to creep higher, implying that the market is bracing itself for tighter Federal Reserve policy.
- Bond yields in Europe remain low, with some short-term European bond yields trading in negative territory. U.S. fixed income yields look attractive and will likely bring money flows from overseas.
- European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi continued to reiterate his pledge that monetary policy will be easy “for a long time.”
- With key global central banks back into easy policy mode and inflation trending lower in many parts of the world, the path of least resistance for bond yields likely remains down.
- The U.S. economy has some positive momentum and appears poised to continue to build on that as we move into the fall. If the economy gains strength it could force the Fed’s hand.
- The geopolitical situation remains unsettled and a flare up could occur at any time.
- The two big economic indicators to watch next week are the ISM Manufacturing Index along with nonfarm payrolls. If either positively surprises the market, the bond market will likely sell off and fears of Fed tightening could get pushed forward.
For the week, spot gold closed at $1,218.07 up $2.37 per ounce, or 0.19 percent. Gold stocks, as measured by the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, fell 2.74 percent. The U.S. Trade-Weighted Dollar Index rose 1.04 percent for the week.
Date Event Survey Actual Prior Sept 22 HSBC China Manufacturing PMI 50.0% 50.5 50.2 Sept 24 US New Home Sales 430K 504K 427K Sept 25 US Initial Jobless Claims 296K 293K 281K Sept 25 US Durable Goods Orders -18.0% -18.2 22.5% Sept 26 GDP Annualized QoQ 4.6% 4.6% 4.2% Sept 29 Germany CPI YoY 0.8% -- 0.8% Sept 30 Eurozone Core CPI YoY 0.9% -- 0.9% Oct 01 US ISM Manufacturing 58.3 -- 59.0 Oct 02 ECB Main Refinancing Rate 0.5 -- 0.5 Oct 03 US Change in Nonfarm Payrolls 215K -- 142K
- Gold mint sales are on the rise. This week, the United Kingdom’s Royal Mint launched an online bullion trading website for the first time. The move is aimed at accessing unsatisfied gold demand in the UK. The Mint’s gold coin sales have increased after being granted value-added-tax-free status in the UK. In the United States, gold coin sales are on the rise as well. Thus far in September, sales of American Eagle bullion gold coins have increased 84 percent from August.
- Central banks remain attracted to gold. Russia announced that its central bank has added another 9.3 tonnes of gold to its reserves. Russia has almost doubled its gold reserves since the financial crisis, being a net buyer every month since. Furthermore, European central banks have retained much more gold than they expected, unloading just 1.7 percent of the gold allowed in their agreement to limit sales.
- Roughly 50 tonnes of gold have been smuggled into India over the past ten days according to the Hindustan Times. The substantial inflows into the country stem from the seasonal demand for gold and highlight the resilient demand for the precious metal in India. Premiums for gold in India are anticipated to double to $20 per ounce over the London cash price going into October.
- South African platinum mining stocks fell to their lowest level since 2013 as metal prices continue to be depressed. The three largest platinum producers have also been unable to fully recover their production from the previous five-month strike.
- Down 12 percent this quarter, commodities are poised for the biggest decline since the financial crisis. Weak global growth data from Europe and China as well as a strong dollar have created severe headwinds for the asset class.
- The ETF that tracks the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners Index, the GDXJ, is reportedly too large to match the benchmark. Most of the fund’s holdings have exceeded 10 percent of the outstanding shares, causing the need for the ETF to rebalance to an asset mix that departs from its benchmark.
- The World Gold Council says that gold will rebound by the end of 2014. The confidence in gold expressed by the council is due to the strong demand from India during the current wedding season. The council is forecasting demand figures in the range of 850 to 950 tonnes.
- A recent report issued by McKinsey and Company argued that the diamond industry will likely continue to be a strong and profitable one. In the near future, demand growth will outstrip supply.
- Desjardins Capital Markets issued a report on Mandalay Resources, identifying the company as a ‘top pick.” Desjardins expects production to grow over 50 percent by 2015. Mandalay sports a P/E of just 11 relative to the S&P 500 at 18. In addition, Mandalay has a dividend yield of 3.5 percent.
- According to Goldman Sachs Group’s Jeffrey Currie, gold is set to continue its decline. He argues that gold has been supported recently by geopolitical tensions in Ukraine, which are now fading. Investors are also shying away from gold as the dollar continues to appreciate and commodities as a whole suffer. Despite gold being unable to find many buyers during its recent slump, Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economic Adviser at Allianz, noted today in an editorial that “only brave investors would omit it from their investment portfolio given the fluid world we live in.”
- Norilsk Nickel is looking at buying palladium from the Russian Central Bank. Uncertainty surrounding the deal, which is expected to amount to 2.4 million oz., may push palladium prices lower. Furthermore, whereas it was uncertain to what degree the Russian Central bank was holding palladium, this deal now reveals that the bank holds a substantial position in the metal.
- The Central Bank of Japan (BOJ) has reportedly purchased a record amount of Japanese equities. Holding 1.5 percent of the entire Japanese equity market, the BOJ’s aggressive purchasing leads one to speculate as to whether or not the U.S. Federal Reserve is doing the same. Since higher equity prices would directly enhance the wealth effect, thus raising consumer confidence, it is not beyond reason to consider.
- A coalition among the U.S. and five Arab states (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Jordan) launched coordinated strikes this week on two terrorist organizations, Islamic State and the Khorasan Group. Despite concerns from global leaders about a protracted struggle, concrete action has been taken. The United Kingdom voted late in the week to participate in the strikes as well. The solidarity of the international community over the growing threat in the Middle East is a reassuring sign.
- Wunderlich Securities raised Hi-Crush Partners, a domestic frac sand producer, from “hold” to “buy” this week. Equity analyst Abhishek Sinha set a twelve-month price target of $66.
- WTI crude oil rose for the second-straight week as stronger data out of the U.S. boosted prospects for higher oil demand. The recent increase in WTI comes as a relief to the energy market, which has languished recently.
- Copper fell to a three-month low this week on the London Metal Exchange. Lower Chinese growth prospects continue to weigh on the metal. Positive new home sales data out of the U.S. however, which is the second-largest copper consumer, could create some positive momentum for copper prices.
- The strong U.S. dollar continues to depress commodities across the board. Energy has been particularly weak, with the S&P 500 Energy Sector Index declining 2.36 percent for the week.
- Global growth concerns continue to weigh on industrial metals. The S&P/TSX Capped Diversified Metals and Mining Index declined for the fifth-straight week, down 2.16 percent.
- Rising ethylene prices may be positive for certain chemical companies such as LyondellBasell Industries. Ethylene margins in the U.S. have reached new highs as prices for raw materials have declined, such as ethane, which has declined roughly 18 percent from the second to third quarter. 11 percent of ethylene capacity remains offline, placing further upward pressure on ethylene prices.
- Suncor Energy is looking to move crude across the Atlantic Ocean in an effort to seek buyers outside of North America. The oil producer reportedly loaded its first eastward-bound tanker of heavy crude this week.
- This week the World Gold Council announced that it expects 2014 to end on a good note for gold. They argue that despite the challenging first half of the year for the precious metal, robust demand from India throughout wedding season may lift gold demand during the second half of the year.
- The top threat facing commodities right now continues to be a strong U.S. dollar, which has appreciated more than 7 percent since the start of July. Given the severity of the dollar’s almost-unchecked recent rise, the odds of a near-term pause or consolidation have likely increased.
- Despite positive economic data from the United States, markets remain worried about growth in Europe and China. Any real or perceived threat to global growth, regardless of a strengthening U.S. economy, remains a threat to commodities, especially to industrial metals.
- Chinese domestic A-shares were among the best performers in emerging markets this week, as new weekly account openings registered the largest gains in more than two years, ahead of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect program. China’s flash manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for September came in better than expected this week, and investors speculated that the country’s central bank governor may soon be replaced.
- Thailand continued to outperform the rest of Asia this week, as the junta prime minister reiterated plans to accelerate budget spending to boost the economy and job creation in rural areas over the next three months. The leader also plans to extend the price freeze on consumer goods by another two to three months. September foreign fund flows into Thai equities were the most since December 2012.
- The consumer staples sector was the best performer in emerging markets this week. Investors rotated to defensive sectors, curbing their risk appetite in anticipation of tighter global liquidity brought on by a stronger U.S. dollar.
- According to Bloomberg, Greek stocks suffered this week as lending to households and businesses fell 3.5 percent year-over-year in August. The Greek financial system remains under considerable pressure as investors await the results of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) most recent stress test to be released next month. Greece’s current account deficit widened 11 percent in the first seven months of the year from the same period a year ago. The Athens Stock Exchange General Index fell 5.41 percent this week.
- Colombian equities remain depressed after the government announced it’s seeking a higher wealth tax for top income earners. Reporting negative GDP growth in the second quarter, Colombia has seen its stock market decline substantially over the past weeks.
- South African equities suffered this week, led by a declining materials sector. A continually rising dollar has weighed substantially on the South African markets, which traditionally decline the most as the dollar rises. The FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index declined 3.50 percent this week.
- Growth of China’s online education market is poised to accelerate in the next three years. The expected growth is led by rapid user adoption in an underpenetrated industry, where fewer than 11 percent of Internet users in the country participate in online education. Leading providers of Internet-based vocational training should be among the biggest beneficiaries of this trend, thanks to government policy support, a scalable business model and relevancy to the job market.
- Since 2005, two weeks before a large-scale initial public offering (IPO), Chinese equities have tended to underperform the Asian universe by approximately 1 percent. One month after such an event, the Asian universe outperformed by 2 percent on average, according to research from Goldman Sachs. If history is used as a guide, recent profit taking in Chinese ADRs associated with Alibaba’s mega-IPO could be short lived.
- Vietnam may look attractive to global investors who are seeking exposure to secular-growth frontier markets for a number of reasons: (1) currency stability amid last year’s Southeast Asian mini-crisis, (2) growth recovery led by an improving current account balance and domestic infrastructure spending, and (3) one of the lowest labor wages in developing Asia, adjusted for literacy and skill level.
- Colombia continues to face economic headwinds. Oil prices have declined substantially with the recent spike in the U.S. dollar, and there are mounting concerns that this decline could depress the country’s oil revenue in the coming months.
- Stronger economic data out of the United States continues to weigh on emerging markets. Strong second-quarter GDP growth and new home sales are viewed as evidence that the Federal Reserve will raise rates sooner than expected. Fear over higher rates in the U.S. is already causing a decline in emerging market equities and will likely continue to do so moving forward.
- Commodities and emerging markets have faced considerable headwinds from the stronger dollar, which shows no sign of slowing down. Countries that peg their currency to the dollar are now facing increased pressure to reduce domestic liquidity, primarily by raising rates in order to keep up with the appreciating U.S. currency.
The tables show the weekly, monthly and quarterly performance statistics of major equity and commodity market benchmarks of our family of funds.
Weekly Performance Index Close Weekly
DJIA 17,113.15 -166.59 -0.96% S&P 500 1,982.85 -27.55 -1.37% S&P Energy 671.95 -12.87 -1.88% S&P Basic Materials 317.78 -0.76 -0.24% Nasdaq 4,512.19 -67.59 -1.48% Russell 2000 1,119.33 -27.59 -2.41% Hang Seng Composite Index 3,251.04 -75.20 -2.26% Korean KOSPI Index 2,031.64 -22.18 -1.08% S&P/TSX Canadian Gold Index 170.72 -1.45 -0.84% XAU 83.92 -3.01 -3.46% Gold Futures 1,218.00 +1.40 +0.12% Oil Futures 93.40 +0.99 +1.07% Natural Gas Futures 3.98 +0.15 +3.83% 10-Yr Treasury Bond 2.53 -0.05 -1.86% Monthly Performance Index Close Monthly
DJIA 17,113.15 -8.86 -0.05% S&P 500 1,982.85 -17.27 -0.86% S&P Energy 671.95 -40.64 -5.70% S&P Basic Materials 317.78 +0.35 +0.11% Nasdaq 4,512.19 -57.43 -1.26% Russell 2000 1,119.33 -53.38 -4.55% Hang Seng Composite Index 3,251.04 -332.01 -14.83% Korean KOSPI Index 2,031.64 -43.29 -2.09% S&P/TSX Canadian Gold Index 170.72 -26.82 -13.58% XAU 83.92 -16.15 -16.14% Gold Futures 1,218.00 -65.40 -5.10% Oil Futures 93.40 -0.48 -0.51% Natural Gas Futures 3.98 +0.03 +0.68% 10-Yr Treasury Bond 2.53 +0.17 +7.17% Quarterly Performance Index Close Quarterly
DJIA 17,113.15 +261.31 +1.55% S&P 500 1,982.85 +21.89 +1.12% S&P Energy 671.95 -55.57 -7.64% S&P Basic Materials 317.78 +5.75 +1.84% Nasdaq 4,512.19 +114.26 +2.60% Russell 2000 1,119.33 -70.17 -5.90% Hang Seng Composite Index 3,251.04 +74.55 +2.35% Korean KOSPI Index 2,031.64 +43.13 +2.17% S&P/TSX Canadian Gold Index 170.72 -22.26 -11.53% XAU 83.92 -15.18 -15.32% Gold Futures 1,218.00 -102.90 -7.79% Oil Futures 93.40 -12.34 -11.67% Natural Gas Futures 3.98 -0.43 -9.64% 10-Yr Treasury Bond 2.53 -0.01 -0.32%
Please consider carefully a fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. For this and other important information, obtain a fund prospectus by visiting www.usfunds.com or by calling 1-800-US-FUNDS (1-800-873-8637). Read it carefully before investing. Distributed by U.S. Global Brokerage, Inc.
All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor.
Foreign and emerging market investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and less public disclosure, as well as economic and political risk. By investing in a specific geographic region, a regional fund’s returns and share price may be more volatile than those of a less concentrated portfolio.
The Emerging Europe Fund invests more than 25 percent of its investments in companies principally engaged in the oil & gas or banking industries. The risk of concentrating investments in this group of industries will make the fund more susceptible to risk in these industries than funds which do not concentrate their investments in an industry and may make the fund’s performance more volatile.
Because the Global Resources Fund concentrates its investments in a specific industry, the fund may be subject to greater risks and fluctuations than a portfolio representing a broader range of industries.
Gold, precious metals, and precious minerals funds may be susceptible to adverse economic, political or regulatory developments due to concentrating in a single theme. The prices of gold, precious metals, and precious minerals are subject to substantial price fluctuations over short periods of time and may be affected by unpredicted international monetary and political policies. We suggest investing no more than 5 percent to 10 percent of your portfolio in these sectors.
Bond funds are subject to interest-rate risk; their value declines as interest rates rise. Tax-exempt income is federal income tax free. A portion of this income may be subject to state and local income taxes, and if applicable, may subject certain investors to the Alternative Minimum Tax as well. The Near-Term Tax Free Fund may invest up to 20% of its assets in securities that pay taxable interest. Income or fund distributions attributable to capital gains are usually subject to both state and federal income taxes. The Near-Term Tax Free Fund may be exposed to risks related to a concentration of investments in a particular state or geographic area. These investments present risks resulting from changes in economic conditions of the region or issuer.
Morningstar Overall Rating™ among 164 Municipal National Short-Term funds as of 08/31/2014 based on risk-adjusted return.
Morningstar ratings based on risk-adjusted return and number of funds
Category: Municipal National Short-Term Funds
Morningstar Ratings are based on risk-adjusted return. The Morningstar Rating for a fund is derived from a weighted-average of the performance figures associated with its three-, five- and ten-year Morningstar Rating metrics. Past performance does not guarantee future results. For each fund with at least a three-year history, Morningstar calculates a Morningstar Rating based on a Morningstar Risk-Adjusted Return measure that accounts for variation in a fund’s monthly performance (including the effects of sales charges, loads, and redemption fees), placing more emphasis on downward variations and rewarding consistent performance. The top 10% of funds in each category receive 5 stars, the next 22.5% receive 4 stars, the next 35% receive 3 stars, the next 22.5% receive 2 stars and the bottom 10% receive 1 star. (Each share class is counted as a fraction of one fund within this scale and rated separately, which may cause slight variations in the distribution percentages.)
Investing in real estate securities involves risks including the potential loss of principal resulting from changes in property value, interest rates, taxes and changes in regulatory requirements.
Past performance does not guarantee future results.
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These market comments were compiled using Bloomberg and Reuters financial news.
Fund portfolios are actively managed, and holdings may change daily. Holdings are reported as of the most recent quarter-end. Holdings as a percentage of net assets as of 6/30/14:
CF Industries Holdings, Inc.: All American Equity Fund, 1.02%
Yara International: 0.0%
Gilead Sciences, Inc.: All American Equity Fund, 1.05%; Holmes Macro Trends Fund, 1.12%
Biogen Idec, Inc.: All American Equity Fund, 3.33%; Holmes Macro Trends Fund, 3.34%
Celgene Corp.: All American Equity Fund, 1.09%; Holmes Macro Trends Fund, 0.99% Nike: 0.0%
Micron Technology: 0.0%
Bed Bath & Beyond: 0.0%
Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (GDXJ): Gold and Precious Metals Fund, 0.55%; World Precious Minerals Fund, 0.55%
Mandalay Resources Corp.: Global Resources Fund, 0.99%; Gold and Precious Metals Fund, 1.88%; World Precious Minerals Fund, 1.44%
Hi-Crush Partners LP: Global Resources Fund, 1.03%
LyondellBasell Industries NV: All American Equity Fund, 0.91%
Suncor Energy, Inc.: Global Resources Fund, 2.01%
Alibaba Group: 0.0%
*The above-mentioned indices are not total returns. These returns reflect simple appreciation only and do not reflect dividend reinvestment.
>The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of 30 blue chip stocks that are generally leaders in their industry.
The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies.
The Nasdaq Composite Index is a capitalization-weighted index of all Nasdaq National Market and SmallCap stocks.
The Russell 2000 Index® is a U.S. equity index measuring the performance of the 2,000 smallest companies in the Russell 3000®, a widely recognized small-cap index.
The Hang Seng Composite Index is a market capitalization-weighted index that comprises the top 200 companies listed on Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, based on average market cap for the 12 months.
The Taiwan Stock Exchange Index is a capitalization-weighted index of all listed common shares traded on the Taiwan Stock Exchange.
The Korea Stock Price Index is a capitalization-weighted index of all common shares and preferred shares on the Korean Stock Exchanges.
The Philadelphia Stock Exchange Gold and Silver Index (XAU) is a capitalization-weighted index that includes the leading companies involved in the mining of gold and silver.
The U.S. Trade Weighted Dollar Index provides a general indication of the international value of the U.S. dollar.
The S&P/TSX Canadian Gold Capped Sector Index is a modified capitalization-weighted index, whose equity weights are capped 25 percent and index constituents are derived from a subset stock pool of S&P/TSX Composite Index stocks.
The S&P 500 Energy Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the energy sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 Materials Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the material sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 Financials Index is a capitalization-weighted index. The index was developed with a base level of 10 for the 1941-43 base period.
The S&P 500 Industrials Index is a Materials Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the industrial sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 Consumer Discretionary Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the consumer discretionary sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 Information Technology Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the information technology sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 Consumer Staples Index is a Materials Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the consumer staples sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 Utilities Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the utilities sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 Healthcare Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the healthcare sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 Telecom Index is a Materials Index is a capitalization-weighted index that tracks the companies in the telecom sector as a subset of the S&P 500.
The NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index is a modified market capitalization weighted index comprised of publicly traded companies involved primarily in the mining for gold and silver.
The Purchasing Manager’s Index is an indicator of the economic health of the manufacturing sector. The PMI index is based on five major indicators: new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries and the employment environment.
The ISM manufacturing composite index is a diffusion index calculated from five of the eight sub-components of a monthly survey of purchasing managers at roughly 300 manufacturing firms from 21 industries in all 50 states.
S&P/TSX Capped Diversified Metals and Mining Index is an index of companies engaged in diversified production or extraction of metals and minerals.
The Athens Stock Exchange General Index is a capitalization-weighted index of Greek stocks listed on the Athens Stock Exchange.
The FTSE/JSE Africa All Shares Index is a market capitalization-weighted index. Companies included in this index make up the top 99% of the total pre-free float market capitalization of all listed companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
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