Mid-Cap Company Risk. Mid-cap companies may be more vulnerable to adverse business or economic events than larger, more established companies and the value of securities issued by these companies may move sharply.
Small-Cap Company Risk. Securities issued by small-cap companies may be riskier than those issued by larger companies, and their prices may move sharply, especially during market upturns and downturns.
Real Estate Investment Risk. Due to the composition of the index, the fund will concentrate its investments in real estate companies and companies related to the real estate industry. As such, the fund is subject to risks associated with the direct ownership of real estate securities and an investment in the fund will be closely linked to the performance of the real estate markets. These risks include, among others: declines in the value of real estate; risks related to general and local economic conditions; possible lack of availability of mortgage funds or other limits to accessing the credit or capital markets; defaults by borrowers or tenants, particularly during an economic downturn; and changes in interest rates.
REITs Risk. In addition to the risks associated with investing in securities of real estate companies and real estate related companies, REITs are subject to certain additional risks. Equity REITs may be affected by changes in the value of the underlying properties owned by the trusts. Further, REITs are dependent upon specialized management skills and cash flows, and may have their investments in relatively few properties, or in a small geographic area or a single property type. Failure of a company to qualify as a REIT under federal tax law may have adverse consequences to the fund. In addition, REITs have their own expenses, and the fund will bear a proportionate share of those expenses.
Foreign Investment Risk. The fund’s investments in securities of foreign issuers involve certain risks that may be greater than those associated with investments in securities of U.S. issuers. These include risks of adverse changes in foreign economic, political, regulatory and other conditions; changes in currency exchange rates or exchange control regulations (including limitations on currency movements and exchanges); the imposition of economic sanctions or other government restrictions; differing accounting, auditing, financial reporting and legal standards and practices; differing securities market structures; and higher transaction costs. These risks may negatively impact the value or liquidity of the fund’s investments and could impair the fund’s ability to meet its investment objective or invest in accordance with its investment strategy. There is a risk that investments in securities denominated in, and/or receiving revenues in, foreign currencies will decline in value relative to the U.S. dollar. Foreign securities also include ADRs, GDRs and EDRs, which may be less liquid than the underlying shares in their primary trading market, and GDRs, in particular, many of which are issued by companies in emerging markets, may be more volatile. Foreign securities may also include investments in variable interest entities (VIEs) structures, which are created by China-based operating companies in jurisdictions outside of China to obtain indirect financing due to Chinese regulations that prohibit non-Chinese ownership of those companies. To the extent
the fund’s investments in a single country or a limited number of countries represent a large percentage of the fund’s assets, the fund’s performance may be adversely affected by the economic, political, regulatory and social conditions in those countries, and the fund’s price may be more volatile than the price of a fund that is geographically diversified.
Emerging Markets Risk. Emerging market countries may be more likely to experience political turmoil or rapid changes in market or economic conditions than more developed countries. Emerging market countries often have less uniformity in accounting, auditing, financial reporting and record keeping requirements and greater risk associated with the custody of securities. In addition, the financial stability of issuers (including governments) in emerging market countries may be more precarious than in developed countries. As a result, there may be an increased risk of illiquidity and price volatility associated with the fund’s investments in emerging market countries, which may be magnified by currency fluctuations relative to the U.S. dollar, and, at times, it may be difficult to value such investments.
Sampling Index Tracking Risk. The fund may not fully replicate the index and may hold securities not included in the index. As a result, the fund is subject to the risk that the investment adviser’s investment management strategy, the implementation of which is subject to a number of constraints, may not produce the intended results. Because the fund utilizes a sampling approach it may not track the return of the index as well as it would if the fund purchased all of the securities in the index.
Tracking Error Risk. As an index fund, the fund seeks to track the performance of the index, although it may not be successful in doing so. The divergence between the performance of the fund and the index, positive or negative, is called “tracking error.” Tracking error can be caused by many factors and it may be significant.
Concentration Risk. To the extent that the fund’s or the index’s portfolio is concentrated in the securities of issuers in a particular market, industry, group of industries, sector, country, or asset class (including the real estate industry, as described above), the fund may be adversely affected by the performance of those securities, may be subject to increased price volatility and may be more vulnerable to adverse economic, market, political or regulatory occurrences affecting that market, industry, group of industries, sector, country, or asset class.
Derivatives Risk. The fund’s use of derivative instruments involves risks different from, or possibly greater than, the risks associated with investing directly in securities and other traditional investments. The fund’s use of derivatives could reduce the fund’s performance, increase the fund’s volatility, and could cause the fund to lose more than the initial amount invested. In addition, investments in derivatives may involve leverage, which means a small percentage of assets invested in derivatives can have a disproportionately large impact on the fund.
Liquidity Risk. The fund may be unable to sell certain securities, such as illiquid securities, readily at a favorable time or price, or the fund may have to sell them at a loss.