Form 497
iShares® Trust
Statement of Additional Information
Dated August 1, 2023
(as revised October 13, 2023)
This combined Statement of Additional Information (SAI) is not a prospectus. It should be read in conjunction with the current prospectuses (each, a Prospectus and collectively,the Prospectuses) for the following series of iShares Trust (the Trust):
Fund
Ticker
Listing Exchange
iShares Biotechnology ETF
IBB
Nasdaq
iShares Core S&P 500 ETF
IVV
NYSE Arca
iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF
IJH
NYSE Arca
iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF
IJR
NYSE Arca
iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF
ITOT
NYSE Arca
iShares Core S&P U.S. Growth ETF
IUSG
Nasdaq
iShares Core S&P U.S. Value ETF
IUSV
Nasdaq
iShares ESG Screened S&P 500 ETF
XVV
Cboe BZX
iShares ESG Screened S&P Mid-Cap ETF
XJH
Cboe BZX
iShares ESG Screened S&P Small-Cap ETF
XJR
Cboe BZX
iShares Europe ETF
IEV
NYSE Arca
iShares Expanded Tech Sector ETF
IGM
NYSE Arca
iShares Expanded Tech-Software Sector ETF
IGV
Cboe BZX
iShares Factors US Growth Style ETF
STLG
Cboe BZX
iShares Factors US Value Style ETF
STLV
Cboe BZX
iShares Focused Value Factor ETF
FOVL
NYSE Arca
iShares International Developed Small Cap Value Factor ETF
ISVL
Cboe BZX
iShares JPX-Nikkei 400 ETF
JPXN
NYSE Arca
iShares Micro-Cap ETF
IWC
NYSE Arca
iShares Mortgage Real Estate ETF
REM
Cboe BZX
iShares North American Natural Resources ETF
IGE
Cboe BZX
iShares North American Tech-Multimedia Networking ETF
IGN
NYSE Arca
iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF
PFF
Nasdaq
iShares Residential and Multisector Real Estate ETF
REZ
NYSE Arca
iShares Russell 1000 ETF
IWB
NYSE Arca
iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF
IWF
NYSE Arca
iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF
IWD
NYSE Arca
iShares Russell 2000 ETF
IWM
NYSE Arca
iShares Russell 2000 Growth ETF
IWO
NYSE Arca
iShares Russell 2000 Value ETF
IWN
NYSE Arca
iShares Russell 3000 ETF
IWV
NYSE Arca
iShares Russell Mid-Cap ETF
IWR
NYSE Arca
iShares Russell Mid-Cap Growth ETF
IWP
NYSE Arca
iShares Russell Mid-Cap Value ETF
IWS
NYSE Arca
iShares Russell Top 200 ETF
IWL
NYSE Arca
iShares Russell Top 200 Growth ETF
IWY
NYSE Arca
iShares Russell Top 200 Value ETF
IWX
NYSE Arca
iShares S&P 100 ETF
OEF
NYSE Arca
iShares S&P 500 Growth ETF
IVW
NYSE Arca
iShares S&P 500 Value ETF
IVE
NYSE Arca
iShares S&P Mid-Cap 400 Growth ETF
IJK
NYSE Arca
iShares S&P Mid-Cap 400 Value ETF
IJJ
NYSE Arca


Fund
Ticker
Listing Exchange
iShares S&P Small-Cap 600 Growth ETF
IJT
Nasdaq
iShares S&P Small-Cap 600 Value ETF
IJS
NYSE Arca
iShares Semiconductor ETF
SOXX
Nasdaq
iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF
ITA
Cboe BZX
iShares U.S. Broker-Dealers & Securities Exchanges ETF
IAI
NYSE Arca
iShares U.S. Healthcare Providers ETF
IHF
NYSE Arca
iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF
ITB
Cboe BZX
iShares U.S. Infrastructure ETF
IFRA
Cboe BZX
iShares U.S. Insurance ETF
IAK
NYSE Arca
iShares U.S. Medical Devices ETF
IHI
NYSE Arca
iShares U.S. Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF
IEO
Cboe BZX
iShares U.S. Oil Equipment & Services ETF
IEZ
NYSE Arca
iShares U.S. Pharmaceuticals ETF
IHE
NYSE Arca
iShares U.S. Real Estate ETF
IYR
NYSE Arca
iShares U.S. Regional Banks ETF
IAT
NYSE Arca
iShares U.S. Telecommunications ETF
IYZ
Cboe BZX
iShares US Small Cap Value Factor ETF
SVAL
Cboe BZX
The Prospectuses for the above-listed funds (each, a Fund and collectively, the Funds) are dated August 1, 2023, as amended and supplemented from time to time. Capitalized terms used herein that are not defined have the same meaning as in the applicable Prospectus, unless otherwise noted. The Financial Statements and Notes contained in the applicable Annual Report and Semi-Annual Report of the Trust for the Funds are incorporated by reference into and are deemed to be part of this SAI. Each Fund's Annual Report is located here1, here2, here3 or here4. Each Fund's Semi-Annual Report is located here1, here2, here3 or here4. A copy of each Fund's Prospectus, Annual Report and Semi-Annual Report may be obtained without charge by writing to the Trust's distributor, BlackRock Investments, LLC (the Distributor or BRIL), 1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540, calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or visiting www.iShares.com. Each Fund's Prospectus is incorporated by reference into this SAI.
References to the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the Investment Company Act or the 1940 Act), or other applicable law, will include any rules promulgated thereunder and any guidance, interpretations or modifications by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC), SEC staff or other authority with appropriate jurisdiction, including court interpretations, and exemptive, no action or other relief or permission from the SEC, SEC staff or other authority.
iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates.

1
Annual and Semi-Annual Report for each of the below funds, for which BNY Mellon serves as administrator, custodian and transfer agent:
iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF, iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF, iShares Core S&P U.S. Growth ETF, iShares Core S&P U.S. Value ETF, iShares ESG Screened S&P 500 ETF, iShares ESG Screened S&P Mid-Cap ETF, iShares ESG Screened S&P Small-Cap ETF, iShares Factors US Growth Style ETF, iShares Factors US Value Style ETF, iShares Mortgage Real Estate ETF, iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF, iShares Residential and Multisector Real Estate ETF, iShares Russell 3000 ETF, iShares Russell Mid-Cap Value ETF, iShares Russell Top 200 ETF, iShares Russell Top 200 Growth ETF, iShares Russell Top 200 Value ETF, iShares S&P 100 ETF, iShares S&P 500 Growth ETF, iShares S&P 500 Value ETF and iShares S&P Small-Cap 600 Value ETF.
2
Annual and Semi-Annual Report for each of the below funds, for which Citibank serves as administrator, custodian and transfer agent:
iShares Focused Value Factor ETF, iShares Russell 1000 ETF, iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF, iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF, iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF, iShares U.S. Broker-Dealers & Securities Exchanges ETF, iShares U.S. Healthcare Providers ETF, iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF, iShares U.S. Infrastructure ETF, iShares U.S. Insurance ETF, iShares U.S. Medical Devices ETF, iShares U.S. Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF, iShares U.S. Oil Equipment & Services ETF, iShares U.S. Pharmaceuticals ETF, iShares U.S. Real Estate ETF, iShares U.S. Regional Banks ETF, iShares U.S. Telecommunications ETF and iShares US Small Cap Value Factor ETF.
3
Annual and Semi-Annual Report for each of the below funds, for which JPMorgan serves as administrator, custodian and transfer agent:
iShares Biotechnology ETF, iShares Core S&P 500 ETF, iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF, iShares Expanded Tech Sector ETF, iShares Expanded Tech-Software Sector ETF, iShares Micro-Cap ETF, iShares North American Natural Resources ETF, iShares North American Tech-Multimedia Networking ETF, iShares Russell 2000 ETF, iShares Russell 2000 Growth ETF, iShares Russell 2000 Value ETF, iShares Russell Mid-Cap ETF, iShares Russell Mid-Cap Growth ETF, iShares S&P Mid-Cap 400 Growth ETF, iShares S&P Mid-Cap 400 Value ETF, Shares S&P Small-Cap 600 Growth ETF and iShares Semiconductor ETF
4
Annual and Semi-Annual Report for each of the below funds, for which State Street serves as administrator, custodian and transfer agent:


iShares Europe ETF, iShares International Developed Small Cap Value Factor ETF and iShares JPX-Nikkei 400 ETF


iShares®
Notice to Shareholders
The Board of Trustees of the Trust approved a proposal to close and liquidate the iShares Factors US Value Style ETF (the Fund). After market close on October 30, 2023, the Fund will cease the creation and redemption of Creation Units. Trading in the Fund will be halted prior to market open on October 31, 2023. Proceeds of the liquidation are currently scheduled to be sent to Fund shareholders on or around November 2, 2023 (the Liquidation Date).
While the Fund is in the process of liquidating its portfolio, which is anticipated to commence prior to October 30, 2023, the Fund will hold cash and securities that will not be consistent with its investment objective and strategies and is likely to incur higher tracking error than is typical for the Fund. Furthermore, the Trust cannot assure that there will be a trading market for Fund shares between market close on October 30, 2023 and the Liquidation Date because Fund shares will not be traded on the primary listing exchange identified in the Prospectus for the Fund (the Listing Exchange) during that period.
Shareholders may sell their holdings of the Fund on its Listing Exchange until market close on October 30, 2023 and may incur the usual and customary brokerage commissions associated with the sale of Fund shares. As of the Liquidation Date, shares of the Fund will be individually redeemed. If you hold Fund shares on the Liquidation Date, the Fund will automatically redeem your shares for cash based on the net asset value of the Fund as of the close of business on October 30, 2023, which will include any dividends or distributions calculated as of that date.
If you are subject to U.S. federal income tax, the liquidation of the Fund will result in one or more taxable events for you. A sale or exchange of Fund shares prior to the Liquidation Date will generally give rise to a capital gain or loss to you for federal income tax purposes. In connection with the liquidation, the Fund may declare taxable distributions of its investment income or taxable distributions of its net capital gain. Any liquidation proceeds paid to you should generally be treated as received by you in exchange for your shares and will therefore generally give rise to a capital gain or loss, depending on your tax basis. Please consult your personal tax advisor about the potential tax consequences.
If you have any questions, please call 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737).
iShares® is a registered trademark of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
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General Description of the Trust and its Funds
The Trust currently consists of more than 315 investment series or portfolios. The Trust was organized as a Delaware statutory trust on December 16, 1999 and is authorized to have multiple series or portfolios. The Trust is an open-end management investment company registered with the SEC under the 1940 Act. The offering of the Trust’s shares is registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the 1933 Act). This SAI relates to the following Funds:
iShares Biotechnology ETF
iShares Core S&P 500 ETF
iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF
iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF
iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF
iShares Core S&P U.S. Growth ETF
iShares Core S&P U.S. Value ETF
iShares ESG Screened S&P 500 ETF
iShares ESG Screened S&P Mid-Cap ETF
iShares ESG Screened S&P Small-Cap ETF
iShares Europe ETF
iShares Expanded Tech Sector ETF
iShares Expanded Tech-Software Sector ETF
iShares Factors US Growth Style ETF
iShares Factors US Value Style ETF
iShares Focused Value Factor ETF
iShares International Developed Small Cap Value Factor ETF
iShares JPX-Nikkei 400 ETF
iShares Micro-Cap ETF
iShares Mortgage Real Estate ETF
iShares North American Natural Resources ETF
iShares North American Tech-Multimedia Networking ETF
iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF
iShares Residential and Multisector Real Estate ETF
iShares Russell 1000 ETF
iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF
iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF
iShares Russell 2000 ETF
iShares Russell 2000 Growth ETF
iShares Russell 2000 Value ETF
iShares Russell 3000 ETF
iShares Russell Mid-Cap ETF
iShares Russell Mid-Cap Growth ETF
iShares Russell Mid-Cap Value ETF
iShares Russell Top 200 ETF
1


iShares Russell Top 200 Growth ETF
iShares Russell Top 200 Value ETF
iShares S&P 100 ETF
iShares S&P 500 Growth ETF
iShares S&P 500 Value ETF
iShares S&P Mid-Cap 400 Growth ETF
iShares S&P Mid-Cap 400 Value ETF
iShares S&P Small-Cap 600 Growth ETF
iShares S&P Small-Cap 600 Value ETF
iShares Semiconductor ETF
iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF
iShares U.S. Broker-Dealers & Securities Exchanges ETF
iShares U.S. Healthcare Providers ETF
iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF
iShares U.S. Infrastructure ETF
iShares U.S. Insurance ETF
iShares U.S. Medical Devices ETF
iShares U.S. Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF
iShares U.S. Oil Equipment & Services ETF
iShares U.S. Pharmaceuticals ETF
iShares U.S. Real Estate ETF
iShares U.S. Regional Banks ETF
iShares U.S. Telecommunications ETF
iShares US Small Cap Value Factor ETF
Each Fund is managed by BlackRock Fund Advisors (BFA), an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc., and generally seeks to track the investment results of the specific benchmark index identified in the applicable Prospectus for that Fund (each, an Underlying Index).
Each Fund offers and issues shares at their net asset value per share (NAV) only in aggregations of a specified number of shares (each, a Creation Unit), generally in exchange for a designated portfolio of securities, assets or other positions (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) included in its Underlying Index (the Deposit Securities or Creation Basket), together with the deposit of a specified cash payment (the Cash Component). Shares of the Funds are listed for trading on national securities exchanges such as Cboe BZX Exchange, Inc. (Cboe BZX), The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC (Nasdaq) or NYSE Arca, Inc. (NYSE Arca) (each a Listing Exchange). Shares of each Fund are traded in the secondary market and elsewhere at market prices that may be at, above or below the Fund's NAV. Shares are redeemable only in Creation Units by Authorized Participants (as defined in the Creation and Redemption of Creation Units-Role of the Authorized Participant section of this SAI) and, generally, in exchange for portfolio securities and a Cash Amount (as defined in the Redemption of Creation Units section of this SAI). Creation Units typically are a specified number of shares, generally ranging from 50,000 to 150,000 shares or multiples thereof.
The Trust reserves the right to permit or require that creations and redemptions of shares are effected fully or partially in cash and reserves the right to permit or require the substitution of Deposit Securities in lieu of cash. Shares may be issued in advance of receipt of Deposit Securities, subject to various conditions, including a requirement that the Authorized Participant maintain with the Trust collateral as set forth in the handbook for Authorized Participants. The Trust may use such collateral at any time to purchase Deposit Securities. See the Creation and Redemption of Creation Units section of this SAI. Transaction fees and other costs associated with creations or redemptions that include a cash portion may be higher than the transaction fees and other costs associated with in-kind creations or redemptions. In all cases, conditions with
2


respect to creations and redemptions of shares and fees will be limited in accordance with the requirements of SEC rules and regulations applicable to management investment companies offering redeemable securities.
Exchange Listing and Trading
A discussion of exchange listing and trading matters associated with an investment in each Fund is contained in the Shareholder Information section of each Fund's Prospectus. The discussion below supplements, and should be read in conjunction with, that section of the applicable Prospectus.
Shares of each Fund are listed for trading, and trade throughout the day, on the applicable Listing Exchange and in other secondary markets. Shares of certain Funds may also be listed on certain non-U.S. exchanges. There can be no assurance that the requirements of the Listing Exchange necessary to maintain the listing of shares of any Fund will continue to be met. The Listing Exchange may, but is not required to, remove the shares of a Fund from listing if, among other things: (i) a Fund is no longer eligible to operate in reliance on Rule 6c-11 under the Investment Company Act; (ii) any of the other listing requirements are not continuously maintained; or (iii) any event shall occur or condition shall exist that, in the opinion of the Listing Exchange, makes further dealings on the Listing Exchange inadvisable. The Listing Exchange will also remove shares of a Fund from listing and trading upon termination of the Fund.
As in the case of other publicly-traded securities, when you buy or sell shares of a Fund through a broker, you may incur a brokerage commission determined by that broker, as well as other charges.
The Trust reserves the right to adjust the share price of the Funds in the future to maintain convenient trading ranges for investors. Any adjustments would be accomplished through stock splits or reverse stock splits, which would have no effect on the net assets of the Funds or an investor's equity interest in the Funds.
Investment Strategies and Risks
Each Fund seeks to achieve its objective by investing primarily in securities issued by issuers that compose its relevant Underlying Index and in investments that provide substantially similar exposure to securities in the Underlying Index. Each Fund operates as an index fund and is not actively managed. Adverse performance of a security in a Fund’s portfolio will ordinarily not result in the elimination of the security from the Fund’s portfolio.
Each Fund engages in representative sampling, which is investing in a sample of securities selected by BFA to have a collective investment profile similar to that of the Fund's Underlying Index. Securities selected have aggregate investment characteristics (based on market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability, earnings valuation and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of the Fund’s Underlying Index. A fund that uses representative sampling generally does not hold all of the securities that are in its underlying index.
Although the Funds do not seek leveraged returns, certain instruments used by the Funds may have a leveraging effect as described below.
Borrowing. Each Fund may borrow for temporary or emergency purposes, including to meet payments due from redemptions or to facilitate the settlement of securities or other transactions. The iShares JPX-Nikkei 400 ETF and iShares Semiconductor ETF, along with certain other iShares funds, have entered into a syndicated line of credit with the Bank of New York Mellon (BNY), which serves as administrative agent for itself and the other banks. The syndicated line of credit may be used for temporary or emergency purposes, including redemption, settlement of trades and rebalancing of portfolio holdings.
Interest rates related to the syndicated line of credit are based on the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York plus a spread. Pursuant to the terms of the credit agreement, if SOFR were to cease being published or representative, it would be replaced by a rate based on an alternate benchmark selected by BNY.
The purchase of securities while borrowings are outstanding may have the effect of leveraging a Fund. The incurrence of leverage increases a Fund’s exposure to risk, and borrowed funds are subject to interest costs that will reduce net income. Purchasing securities while borrowings are outstanding creates special risks, such as the potential for greater volatility in the NAV of Fund shares and in the yield on a Fund’s portfolio. In addition, the interest expenses from borrowings may exceed the
3


income generated by a Fund’s portfolio and, therefore, the amount available (if any) for distribution to shareholders as dividends may be reduced. BFA may determine to maintain outstanding borrowings if it expects that the benefits to a Fund’s shareholders will outweigh the current reduced return.
Certain types of borrowings by a Fund must be made from a bank or may result in a Fund being subject to covenants in credit agreements relating to asset coverage, portfolio composition requirements and other matters. It is not anticipated that observance of such covenants would impede BFA’s management of a Fund’s portfolio in accordance with a Fund’s investment objectives and policies. However, a breach of any such covenants not cured within the specified cure period may result in acceleration of outstanding indebtedness and require a Fund to dispose of portfolio investments at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so.
Currency Transactions.A currency forward contract is an over-the-counter (OTC) obligation to purchase or sell a specific currency at a future date, which may be any fixed number of days greater than two days from the date on which the contract is agreed upon by the parties, at a price set at the time of the contract. A non-deliverable currency forward is an OTC currency forward settled in a specified currency, on a specified date, based on the difference between the agreed-upon exchange rate and the market exchange rate. A currency futures contract is a contract that trades on an organized futures exchange involving an obligation to deliver or acquire a specified amount of a specific currency, at a specified price and at a specified future time. Currency futures contracts may be settled on a net cash payment basis rather than by the sale and delivery of the underlying currency. Certain of the Funds do not expect to engage in currency transactions for the purpose of hedging against declines in the value of the Funds' assets that are denominated in a non-U.S. currency. A Fund may enter into non-U.S. currency forwards, non-deliverable currency forwards and non-U.S. currency futures transactions to facilitate local securities settlements or to protect against currency exposure in connection with its distributions to shareholders, but may not enter into such contracts for speculative purposes.
Foreign exchange transactions involve a significant degree of risk and the markets in which foreign exchange transactions are effected may be highly volatile, highly specialized and highly technical. Significant changes, including changes in liquidity and prices, can occur in such markets within very short periods of time, often within minutes. Foreign exchange trading risks include, but are not limited to, exchange rate risk, counterparty risk, maturity gap, interest rate risk, and potential interference by foreign governments through regulation of local exchange markets, foreign investment or particular transactions in non-U.S. currency. If BFA utilizes foreign exchange transactions at an inappropriate time or judges market conditions, trends or correlations incorrectly, foreign exchange transactions may not serve their intended purpose of improving the correlation of a Fund's return with the performance of its Underlying Index and may lower the Fund’s return. A Fund could experience losses if the value of its currency forwards, options or futures positions were poorly correlated with its other investments or if it could not close out its positions because of an illiquid market or otherwise. In addition, a Fund could incur transaction costs, including trading commissions, in connection with certain non-U.S. currency transactions.
Diversification Status.The following table sets forth the diversification status of each Fund:
Diversified Funds
Non-Diversified Funds
iShares Core S&P 500 ETF
iShares Biotechnology ETF
iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF
iShares ESG Screened S&P 500 ETF
iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF
iShares Expanded Tech Sector ETF
iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF
iShares Expanded Tech-Software Sector ETF
iShares Core S&P U.S. Growth ETF*
iShares Factors US Growth Style ETF
iShares Core S&P U.S. Value ETF
iShares International Developed Small Cap Value Factor ETF
iShares Europe ETF
iShares Mortgage Real Estate ETF
iShares ESG Screened S&P Mid-Cap ETF
iShares North American Tech-Multimedia Networking ETF
iShares ESG Screened S&P Small-Cap ETF
iShares Residential and Multisector Real Estate ETF
iShares Factors US Value Style ETF
iShares Semiconductor ETF
iShares Focused Value Factor ETF
iShares U.S. Aerospace & Defense ETF
iShares JPX-Nikkei 400 ETF
iShares U.S. Broker-Dealers & Securities Exchanges ETF
4


Diversified Funds
Non-Diversified Funds
iShares Micro-Cap ETF
iShares U.S. Healthcare Providers ETF
iShares North American Natural Resources ETF
iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF
iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF
iShares U.S. Insurance ETF
iShares Russell 1000 ETF
iShares U.S. Medical Devices ETF
iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF*
iShares U.S. Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF
iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF
iShares U.S. Oil Equipment & Services ETF
iShares Russell 2000 ETF
iShares U.S. Pharmaceuticals ETF
iShares Russell 2000 Growth ETF
iShares U.S. Regional Banks ETF
iShares Russell 2000 Value ETF
iShares U.S. Telecommunications ETF
iShares Russell 3000 ETF
 
iShares Russell Mid-Cap ETF
 
iShares Russell Mid-Cap Growth ETF
 
iShares Russell Mid-Cap Value ETF
 
iShares Russell Top 200 ETF
 
iShares Russell Top 200 Growth ETF*
 
iShares Russell Top 200 Value ETF
 
iShares S&P 100 ETF*
 
iShares S&P 500 Growth ETF*
 
iShares S&P 500 Value ETF
 
iShares S&P Mid-Cap 400 Growth ETF
 
iShares S&P Mid-Cap 400 Value ETF
 
iShares S&P Small-Cap 600 Growth ETF
 
iShares S&P Small-Cap 600 Value ETF
 
iShares U.S. Infrastructure ETF
 
iShares U.S. Real Estate ETF
 
iShares US Small Cap Value Factor ETF
 
 
 

*
The iShares Core S&P U.S. Growth ETF, iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF, iShares Russell Top 200 Growth ETF, iShares S&P 100 ETF and iShares S&P 500 Growth ETF intend to be diversified in approximately the same proportion as their Underlying Indexes are diversified. The iShares Core S&P U.S. Growth ETF, iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF, iShares Russell Top 200 Growth ETF, iShares S&P 100 ETF and iShares S&P 500 Growth ETF may become non-diversified, as defined in the 1940 Act, solely as a result of a change in relative market capitalization or index weighting of one or more constituents of their Underlying Indexes. Shareholder approval will not be sought if the iShares Core S&P U.S. Growth ETF, iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF, iShares Russell Top 200 Growth ETF, iShares S&P 100 ETF or iShares S&P 500 Growth ETF crosses from diversified to non-diversified status due solely to a change in its relative market capitalization or index weighting of one or more constituents of its Underlying Index. The Funds disclose their portfolio holdings and weightings at www.iShares.com.
A fund classified as diversified under the 1940 Act may not purchase securities of an issuer (other than (i) obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities and (ii) securities of other investment companies) if, with respect to 75% of its total assets, (a) more than 5% of the fund’s total assets would be invested in securities of that issuer or (b) the fund would hold more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of that issuer. With respect to the remaining 25% of its total assets, the fund may invest more than 5% of its assets in one issuer. Under the 1940 Act, a fund cannot change its classification from diversified to non-diversified without shareholder approval. However, while the iShares Core S&P U.S. Growth ETF, iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF, iShares Russell Top 200 Growth ETF, iShares S&P 100 ETF and iShares S&P 500 Growth ETF are classified as diversified, under applicable no-action relief from the SEC staff, the funds may become non-diversified, as defined in the 1940 Act, solely as a result of a change in relative market
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capitalization or index weighting of one or more constituents of their Underlying Indexes and such a change does not require shareholder approval.
A non-diversified fund is a fund that is not limited by the 1940 Act with regard to the percentage of its assets that may be invested in the securities of a single issuer. The securities of a particular issuer (or securities of issuers in particular industries) may constitute a significant percentage of the underlying index of such a fund and, consequently, the fund’s investment portfolio. This may adversely affect a fund’s performance or subject the fund’s shares to greater price volatility than that experienced by more diversified investment companies.
Each Fund (whether diversified or non-diversified) intends to maintain the required level of diversification and otherwise conduct its operations so as to qualify as a regulated investment company (RIC) for purposes of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the Internal Revenue Code), and to relieve the Fund of any liability for U.S. federal income tax to the extent that its earnings are distributed to shareholders, provided that the Fund satisfies a minimum distribution requirement. Compliance with the diversification requirements of the Internal Revenue Code may limit the investment flexibility of the Funds and may make it less likely that the Funds will meet their respective investment objectives.
Futures, Options on Futures and Securities Options.Futures contracts, options on futures and securities options may be used by a Fund to simulate investment in its Underlying Index, to facilitate trading or to reduce transaction costs. Each Fund may enter into futures contracts and options on futures that are traded on a U.S. or non-U.S. futures exchange. Each Fund will not use futures, options on futures or securities options for speculative purposes. Each Fund intends to use futures and options on futures in accordance with Rule 4.5 of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the CFTC) promulgated under the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA). BFA, with respect to certain Funds, has claimed an exclusion from the definition of the term commodity pool operator in accordance with Rule 4.5 so that BFA, with respect to such Funds, is not subject to registration or regulation as a commodity pool operator under the CEA. See the Regulation Regarding Derivatives section of this SAI for more information.
Futures contracts provide for the future sale by one party and purchase by another party of a specified amount of a specific instrument or index at a specified future time and at a specified price. Stock index contracts are based on investments that reflect the market value of common stock of the firms included in the investments. Each Fund may enter into futures contracts to purchase securities indexes when BFA anticipates purchasing the underlying securities and believes prices will rise before the purchase will be made. Upon entering into a futures contract, a Fund will be required to deposit with the broker an amount of cash or cash equivalents known as initial margin, which is similar to a performance bond or good faith deposit on the contract and is returned to the Fund upon termination of the futures contract if all contractual obligations have been satisfied. Subsequent payments, known as variation margin, will be made to and from the broker daily as the price of the instrument or index underlying the futures contract fluctuates, making the long and short positions in the futures contract more or less valuable, a process known as marking-to-market. At any time prior to the expiration of a futures contract, each Fund may elect to close the position by taking an opposite position, which will operate to terminate the Fund’s existing position in the contract. An option on a futures contract, as contrasted with a direct investment in such a contract, gives the purchaser the right, but no obligation, in return for the premium paid, to assume a position in the underlying futures contract at a specified exercise price at any time prior to the expiration date of the option. Upon exercise of an option, the delivery of the futures position by the writer of the option to the holder of the option will be accompanied by delivery of the accumulated balance in the writer’s futures margin account that represents the amount by which the market price of the futures contract exceeds (in the case of a call) or is less than (in the case of a put) the exercise price of the option on the futures contract.
The potential for loss related to the purchase of an option on a futures contract is limited to the premium paid for the option plus transaction costs. Because the value of the option is fixed at the point of sale, there are no daily cash payments by the purchaser to reflect changes in the value of the underlying contract; however, the value of the option changes daily and that change would be reflected in the NAV of each Fund. The potential for loss related to writing call options is unlimited. The potential for loss related to writing put options is limited to the agreed-upon price per share, also known as the strike price, less the premium received from writing the put. Certain of the Funds may purchase and write put and call options on futures contracts that are traded on an exchange as a hedge against changes in value of their portfolio securities or in anticipation of the purchase of securities, and may enter into closing transactions with respect to such options to terminate existing positions. There is no guarantee that such closing transactions can be effected.
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Securities options may be used by a Fund to obtain access to securities in its Underlying Index or to dispose of securities in its Underlying Index at favorable prices, to invest cash in a securities index that offers similar exposure to that provided by its Underlying Index or otherwise to achieve the Fund’s objective of tracking its Underlying Index.A call option gives a holder the right to purchase a specific security at a specified price (exercise price) within a specified period of time. A put option gives a holder the right to sell a specific security at an exercise price within a specified period of time. The initial purchaser of a call option pays the writer a premium, which is paid at the time of purchase and is retained by the writer whether or not such option is exercised. Each Fund may purchase put options to hedge its portfolio against the risk of a decline in the market value of securities held and may purchase call options to hedge against an increase in the price of securities it is committed to purchase. Each Fund may write put and call options along with a long position in options to increase its ability to hedge against a change in the market value of the securities it holds or is committed to purchase. Each Fund may purchase or sell securities options on a U.S. or non-U.S. securities exchange or in the OTC market through a transaction with a dealer. Options on a securities index are typically settled on a net basis based on the appreciation or depreciation of the index level over the strike price. Options on single name securities may be cash- or physically-settled, depending upon the market in which they are traded. Options may be structured so as to be exercisable only on certain dates or on a daily basis. Options may also be structured to have conditions to exercise (i.e., Knock-in Events) or conditions that trigger termination (i.e., Knock-out Events).
Lending Portfolio Securities.Each Fund may lend portfolio securities to certain borrowers that BFA determines to be creditworthy, including borrowers affiliated with BFA. The borrowers provide collateral that is maintained in an amount at least equal to the current market value of the securities loaned. No securities loan shall be made on behalf of a Fund if, as a result, the aggregate value of all securities loans of the particular Fund exceeds one-third of the value of such Fund's total assets (including the value of the collateral received). A Fund may terminate a loan at any time and obtain the return of the securities loaned. Each Fund receives, by way of substitute payment, the value of any interest or cash or non-cash distributions paid on the loaned securities that it would have otherwise received if the securities were not on loan.
With respect to loans that are collateralized by cash, the borrower may be entitled to receive a fee based on the amount of cash collateral. The Funds are compensated by any positive difference between the amount earned on the reinvestment of cash collateral and the fee paid to the borrower. In the case of collateral other than cash, a Fund is compensated by a fee paid by the borrower equal to a percentage of the market value of the loaned securities. Any cash collateral received by the Fund for such loans, and uninvested cash, may be reinvested in certain short-term instruments either directly on behalf of each Fund or through one or more joint accounts or money market funds, including those affiliated with BFA; such investments are subject to investment risk.
Each Fund conducts its securities lending pursuant to an exemptive order from the SEC permitting it to lend portfolio securities to borrowers affiliated with the Fund and to retain an affiliate of the Fund to act as securities lending agent. To the extent that a Fund engages in securities lending, BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (BTC) acts as securities lending agent for the Fund, subject to the overall supervision of BFA. BTC administers the lending program in accordance with guidelines approved by the Trust's Board of Trustees (the Board, the trustees of which are the Trustees). JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (JPMorgan) serves as custodian for the Funds in connection with certain securities lending activities.
Securities lending involves exposure to certain risks, including operational risk (i.e., the risk of losses resulting from problems in the settlement and accounting process), gap risk (i.e., the risk of a mismatch between the return on cash collateral reinvestments and the fees a Fund has agreed to pay a borrower), foreign exchange risk (i.e., the risk of a shortfall at default when a cash collateral investment is denominated in a currency other than the currency of the assets being loaned due to movements in foreign exchange rates), and credit, legal, counterparty and market risks (including the risk that market events could lead the Fund to recall loaned securities or to lend less or not at all, which could lead to reduced securities lending revenue). If a securities lending counterparty were to default, a Fund would be subject to the risk of a possible delay in receiving collateral or in recovering the loaned securities, or to a possible loss of rights in the collateral. In the event a borrower does not return a Fund’s securities as agreed, the Fund’s ability to participate in a corporate action event may be impacted, or the Fund may experience losses if the proceeds received from liquidating the collateral do not at least equal the value of the loaned security at the time the collateral is liquidated, plus the transaction costs incurred in purchasing replacement securities. This latter event could trigger adverse tax consequences for a Fund. A Fund could lose money if its short-term investment of the collateral declines in value over the period of the loan. Substitute payments received by a Fund representing dividends paid on securities loaned out by the Fund will not be considered qualified dividend income. BTC will take into account the tax effects on shareholders caused by this difference in connection with a Fund’s securities lending program. Substitute payments received on tax-exempt securities loaned out will not be tax-exempt income. There could also
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be changes in the status of issuers under applicable laws and regulations, including tax regulations, that may impact the regulatory or tax treatment of loaned securities and could, for example, result in a delay in the payment of dividend equivalent payments owed to a Fund (as permitted by applicable law).
Regulations adopted by global prudential regulators require certain bank-regulated counterparties and certain of their affiliates to include in certain financial contracts, including many securities lending agreements, terms that delay or restrict the rights of counterparties, such as the Fund, to terminate such agreements, foreclose upon collateral, exercise other default rights or restrict transfers of credit support in the event that the counterparty and/or its affiliates are subject to certain types of resolution or insolvency proceedings. It is possible that these requirements, as well as potential additional government regulation and other developments in the market, could adversely affect the Fund’s ability to terminate existing securities lending agreements or to realize amounts to be received under such agreements.
Liquidity Risk Management.Rule 22e-4 under the Investment Company Act (the Liquidity Rule) requires open-end funds, including exchange-traded funds (ETFs) such as the Funds, to establish a liquidity risk management program (the Liquidity Program) and enhance disclosures regarding fund liquidity. As required by the Liquidity Rule, the Funds have implemented a Liquidity Program, and the Board, including a majority of the Independent Trustees of the Trust, has appointed BFA as the administrator of the Liquidity Program. Under the Liquidity Program, BFA assesses, manages, and periodically reviews each Fund’s liquidity risk and classifies each investment held by a Fund as a highly liquid investment, moderately liquid investment, less liquid investment or illiquid investment. The Liquidity Rule defines liquidity risk as the risk that a Fund could not meet requests to redeem shares issued by a Fund without significant dilution of the remaining investors’ interest in a Fund. The liquidity of a Fund's portfolio investments is determined based on relevant market, trading and investment-specific considerations under the Liquidity Program. There are exclusions from certain portions of the liquidity risk management program requirements for in-kind ETFs, as defined in the Liquidity Rule. To the extent that an investment is deemed to be an illiquid investment or a less liquid investment, a Fund can expect to be exposed to greater liquidity risk.
Non-U.S. Securities.Certain Funds purchase publicly traded common stocks of non-U.S. issuers. To the extent a Fund invests in stocks of non-U.S. issuers, certain of the Fund's investments in such stocks may be in the form of American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), Global Depositary Receipts (GDRs) and European Depositary Receipts (EDRs) (collectively, depositary receipts). Depositary receipts are receipts, typically issued by a bank or trust issuer, which evidence ownership of underlying securities issued by a non-U.S. issuer. Depositary receipts may not necessarily be denominated in the same currency as their underlying securities. ADRs typically are issued by a U.S. bank or trust company and evidence ownership of underlying securities issued by a non-U.S. issuer. EDRs, which are sometimes referred to as continental depositary receipts, are receipts issued in Europe, typically by foreign banks and trust companies, that evidence ownership of either foreign or domestic underlying securities. GDRs are depositary receipts structured like global debt issues to facilitate trading on an international basis. Generally, ADRs, issued in registered form, are designed for use in the U.S. securities markets, and EDRs, issued in bearer form, are designed for use in European securities markets. GDRs are tradable both in the U.S. and in Europe and are designed for use throughout the world.
Depositary receipts are generally subject to the same risks as the foreign securities that they evidence or into which they may be converted. In addition to investment risks associated with the underlying issuer, depositary receipts expose a Fund to additional risks associated with the non-uniform terms that apply to depositary receipt programs, credit exposure to the depository bank and to the sponsors and other parties with whom the depository bank establishes the programs, currency risk and liquidity risk. Unsponsored programs, which are not sanctioned by the issuer of the underlying common stock, generally expose investors to greater risks than sponsored programs and do not provide holders with many of the shareholder benefits that come from investing in a sponsored depositary receipts.
Investing in the securities of non-U.S. issuers involves special risks and considerations not typically associated with investing in U.S. issuers. These include differences in accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards; the possibility of expropriation or confiscatory taxation; adverse changes in investment or exchange control regulations; political instability, which could affect U.S. investments in non-U.S. countries; and potential restrictions on the flow of international capital. Non-U.S. issuers may be subject to less governmental regulation than U.S. issuers. Moreover, individual non-U.S. economies may differ favorably or unfavorably from the U.S. economy in such respects as growth of gross domestic product (GDP), rate of inflation, capital reinvestment, resource self-sufficiency and balance of payment positions.
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Regulation Regarding Derivatives.The CFTC subjects advisers to registered investment companies to regulation by the CFTC if a fund that is advised by the adviser either (i) invests, directly or indirectly, more than a prescribed level of its liquidation value in CFTC-regulated futures, options and swaps(CFTC Derivatives) or (ii) markets itself as providing investment exposure to such instruments. The CFTC also subjects advisers to registered investment companies to regulation by the CFTC if the registered investment company invests in one or more commodity pools. To the extent a Fund uses CFTC Derivatives, it intends to do so below such prescribed levels and intends not to market itself as a commodity pool or a vehicle for trading such instruments.
BFA has claimed an exclusion from the definition of the term commodity pool operator under the CEA pursuant to Rule 4.5 under the CEA with respect to each of the Funds. BFA is not, therefore, subject to registration or regulation as a commodity pool operator under the CEA with respect to the Funds.
The iShares Biotechnology ETF, iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF, iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF, iShares Core S&P U.S. Growth ETF, iShares ESG Screened S&P Mid-Cap ETF, iShares ESG Screened S&P Small-Cap ETF, iShares Europe ETF, iShares Factors US Value Style ETF, iShares Global Infrastructure ETF, iShares International Developed Property ETF, iShares International Developed Small Cap Value Factor ETF, iShares Micro-Cap ETF, iShares Mortgage Real Estate ETF, iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF, iShares Residential and Multisector Real Estate ETF, iShares Russell 1000 ETF, iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF, iShares Russell 2000 ETF, iShares Russell 2000 Growth ETF, iShares Russell 2000 Value ETF, iShares Russell 3000 ETF, iShares Russell Mid-Cap ETF, iShares Russell Mid-Cap Growth ETF, iShares Russell Mid-Cap Growth ETF, iShares Russell Mid-Cap Value ETF, iShares S&P Mid-Cap 400 Growth ETF, iShares S&P Mid-Cap 400 Value ETF, iShares S&P Small-Cap 600 Growth ETF, iShares S&P Small-Cap 600 Value ETF, iShares Semiconductor ETF, iShares U.S. Broker-Dealers & Securities Exchanges ETF, iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF, iShares U.S. Infrastructure ETF, iShares U.S. Real Estate ETF and iShares US Small Cap Value Factor ETF (the No-Action Letter Funds) may also have investments in underlying funds (and such underlying funds themselves may invest in underlying funds) not advised by BFA (the term underlying fund for purposes of the no-action letter referenced below may include, but is not limited to, certain securitized vehicles, mortgage or international real estate investment trusts (REITs), business development companies, and investment companies that may invest in CFTC Derivatives or in any of the foregoing), and therefore may be viewed by the CFTC as commodity pools. BFA may not have transparency into the holdings of these underlying funds because they are not advised by BFA. To address this issue of lack of transparency, the CFTC staff issued a no-action letter on November 29, 2012 permitting the adviser of a fund that invests in such underlying funds and that would otherwise have filed a claim of exclusion pursuant to CFTC Rule 4.5 to delay registration as a commodity pool operator until six months from the date on which the CFTC issues additional guidance on the treatment of CFTC Derivatives held by underlying funds. BFA, the adviser of the No-Action Letter Funds, has filed a claim with the CFTC for the Funds to rely on this no-action relief. Accordingly, BFA is not currently subject to registration or regulation as a commodity pool operator under the CEA in respect of the Funds.
Derivative contracts, including, without limitation, swaps, currency forwards, and non-deliverable forwards, are subject to regulation under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) in the U.S. and under comparable regimes in Europe, Asia and other non-U.S. jurisdictions. Swaps, non-deliverable forwards and certain other derivatives traded in the OTC market are subject to variation margin and initial margin requirements. Implementation of the margining and other provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act regarding clearing, mandatory trading, reporting and documentation of swaps and other derivatives have impacted and may continue to impact the costs to a Fund of trading these instruments and, as a result, may affect returns to investors in a Fund.
Rule 18f-4 under the Investment Company Act permits a Fund to enter into Derivatives Transactions (as defined below) and certain other transactions notwithstanding the restrictions on the issuance of senior securities under Section 18 of the Investment Company Act. Section 18 of the Investment Company Act, among other things, prohibits open-end funds, including the Funds, from issuing or selling any senior security, other than borrowing from a bank (subject to a requirement to maintain 300% asset coverage).
Under Rule 18f-4, Derivatives Transactions include the following: (1) any swap, security-based swap (including a contract for differences), futures contract, forward contract, option (excluding purchased options), any combination of the foregoing, or any similar instrument, under which a Fund is or may be required to make any payment or delivery of cash or other assets during the life of the instrument or at maturity or early termination, whether as margin or settlement payment or otherwise; (2) any short sale borrowing; (3) reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions (e.g., recourse and non-recourse tender option bonds, and borrowed bonds), if a Fund elects to treat these transactions as Derivatives Transactions
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under Rule 18f-4; and (4) when-issued or forward-settling securities (e.g., firm and standby commitments, including to-be-announced (TBA) commitments, and dollar rolls) and non-standard settlement cycle securities, unless the Fund intends to physically settle the transaction and the transaction will settle within 35 days of its trade date (the Delayed-Settlement Securities Provision).
Unless a Fund is relying on the Limited Derivatives User Exception (as defined below), the Fund must comply with Rule 18f-4 with respect to its Derivatives Transactions. Rule 18f-4, among other things, requires a Fund to adopt and implement a comprehensive written derivatives risk management program (DRMP) and comply with a relative or absolute limit on Fund leverage risk calculated based on value-at-risk (VaR). The DRMP is administered by a derivatives risk manager, who is appointed by the Board, including a majority of Independent Directors/Trustees, and periodically reviews the DRMP and reports to the Board.
Rule 18f-4 provides an exception from the DRMP, VaR limit and certain other requirements if a Fund's derivatives exposure (as defined in Rule 18f-4) is limited to 10% of its net assets (as calculated in accordance with Rule 18f-4) and the Fund adopts and implements written policies and procedures reasonably designed to manage its derivatives risks (the Limited Derivatives User Exception).
Repurchase Agreements.A repurchase agreement is an instrument under which the purchaser (i.e., a Fund) acquires a security and the seller agrees, at the time of the sale, to repurchase the security at a mutually agreed-upon time and price, thereby determining the yield during the purchaser’s holding period. Repurchase agreements may be construed to be collateralized loans by the purchaser to the seller secured by the securities transferred to the purchaser. If a repurchase agreement is construed to be a collateralized loan, the underlying securities will not be considered to be owned by a Fund but only to constitute collateral for the seller’s obligation to pay the repurchase price, and, in the event of a default by the seller, the Fund may suffer time delays and incur costs or losses in connection with the disposition of the collateral.
In any repurchase transaction, the collateral for a repurchase agreement may include: (i) cash items; (ii) obligations issued by the U.S. government or its agencies or instrumentalities; or (iii) obligations that, at the time the repurchase agreement is entered into, are determined to (A) have exceptionally strong capacity to meet their financial obligations and (B) are sufficiently liquid such that they can be sold at approximately their carrying value in the ordinary course of business within seven days.
Repurchase agreements pose certain risks for a Fund that utilizes them. Such risks are not unique to the Funds, but are inherent in repurchase agreements. The Funds seek to minimize such risks, but because of the inherent legal uncertainties involved in repurchase agreements, such risks cannot be eliminated. Lower quality collateral and collateral with a longer maturity may be subject to greater price fluctuations than higher quality collateral and collateral with a shorter maturity. If the repurchase agreement counterparty were to default, lower quality collateral may be more difficult to liquidate than higher quality collateral. Should the counterparty default and the amount of collateral not be sufficient to cover the counterparty’s repurchase obligation, a Fund would likely retain the status of an unsecured creditor of the counterparty (i.e., the position a Fund would normally be in if it were to hold, pursuant to its investment policies, other unsecured debt securities of the defaulting counterparty) with respect to the amount of the shortfall. As an unsecured creditor, a Fund would be at risk of losing some or all of the principal and income involved in the transaction.
Reverse Repurchase Agreements.Reverse repurchase agreements involve the sale of securities with an agreement to repurchase the securities at an agreed-upon price, date and interest payment and have the characteristics of borrowing. Generally, the effect of such transactions is that a Fund can recover all or most of the cash invested in the portfolio securities involved during the term of the reverse repurchase agreement, while in many cases the Fund is able to keep some of the interest income associated with those securities. Such transactions are advantageous only if a Fund has an opportunity to earn a rate of interest on the cash derived from these transactions that is greater than the interest cost of obtaining the same amount of cash. Opportunities to realize earnings from the use of the proceeds equal to or greater than the interest required to be paid may not always be available, and a Fund intends to use the reverse repurchase technique only when BFA believes it will be advantageous to the Fund. The use of reverse repurchase agreements may exaggerate any increase or decrease in the value of a Fund’s assets. The use of reverse repurchase agreements is a form of leverage, and the proceeds obtained by a Fund through reverse repurchase agreements may be invested in additional securities.
Rule 18f-4 under the Investment Company Act permits a Fund to enter into reverse repurchase agreements and similar financing transactions (e.g., recourse and non-recourse tender option bonds, borrowed bonds) notwithstanding the limitation on the issuance of senior securities in Section 18 of the Investment Company Act, provided that a Fund either (i)
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complies with the 300% asset coverage ratio with respect to such transactions and any other borrowings in the aggregate, or (ii) treats such transactions as Derivatives Transactions under Rule 18f-4. (See Regulation Regarding Derivatives above.)
Securities of Investment Companies.Each Fund may invest in the securities of other investment companies (including money market funds) to the extent permitted by law. Pursuant to the 1940 Act, a Fund’s investment in registered investment companies is generally limited to, subject to certain exceptions: (i) 3% of the total outstanding voting stock of any one investment company; (ii) 5% of a Fund’s total assets with respect to any one investment company; and (iii) 10% of a Fund’s total assets with respect to investment companies in the aggregate. To the extent allowed by law or regulation, each Fund intends from time to time to invest its assets in the securities of investment companies, including, but not limited to, money market funds, including those advised by or otherwise affiliated with BFA, in excess of the general limits discussed above. Other investment companies in which a Fund may invest can be expected to incur fees and expenses for operations, such as investment advisory and administration fees, which would be in addition to those incurred by the Fund. Pursuant to guidance issued by the SEC staff, fees and expenses of money market funds used for cash collateral received in connection with loans of securities are not treated as Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, which reflect a Fund’s pro rata share of the fees and expenses incurred by investing in other investment companies (as disclosed in the Prospectus, as applicable).
Short-Term Instruments and Temporary Investments.Each Fund may invest in short-term instruments, including money market instruments, on an ongoing basis to provide liquidity or for other reasons. Money market instruments are generally short-term investments that may include, but are not limited to: (i) shares of money market funds (including those advised by BFA or otherwise affiliated with BFA); (ii) obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities (including government-sponsored enterprises); (iii) negotiable certificates of deposit (CDs), bankers’ acceptances, fixed-time deposits and other obligations of U.S. and non-U.S. banks (including non-U.S. branches) and similar institutions; (iv) commercial paper rated, at the date of purchase, Prime-1 by Moody's® Investors Service, Inc., F-1 by Fitch Ratings, Inc., or A-1 by Standard & Poor's® Financial Services LLC, a subsidiary of S&P Global, Inc. (S&P Global Ratings), or if unrated, of comparable quality as determined by BFA; (v) non-convertible corporate debt securities (e.g., bonds and debentures) with remaining maturities at the date of purchase of not more than 397 days and that have been determined to present minimal credit risks, in accordance with the requirements set forth in Rule 2a-7 under the 1940 Act; (vi) repurchase agreements; and (vii) short-term U.S. dollar-denominated obligations of non-U.S. banks (including U.S. branches) that, in the opinion of BFA, are of comparable quality to obligations of U.S. banks that may be purchased by a Fund. Any of these instruments may be purchased on a current or forward-settled basis. Time deposits are non-negotiable deposits maintained in banking institutions for specified periods of time at stated interest rates. Bankers’ acceptances are time drafts drawn on commercial banks by borrowers, usually in connection with international transactions.
Swap Agreements.Swap agreements are contracts between parties in which one party agrees to make periodic payments to the other party based on a pre-determined underlying investment or notional amount. In return, the other party agrees to make periodic payments to the first party based on the return (or a differential in rate of return) earned or realized on the underlying investment or notional amount. Swap agreements will usually be performed on a net basis, with a Fund receiving or paying only the net amount of the two payments. The net amount of the excess, if any, of a Fund’s obligations over its entitlements with respect to each swap is accrued on a daily basis.
Certain of the Funds may enter into swap agreements, including currency swaps, interest rate swaps and index swaps, or for the iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF, iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF, iShares ESG Screened S&P Small-Cap ETF, iShares S&P Mid-Cap 400 Growth ETF, iShares S&P Mid-Cap 400 Value ETF, iShares S&P Small-Cap 600 Growth ETF, iShares S&P Small-Cap 600 Value ETF and iShares U.S. Infrastructure ETF, total return swaps (some of which may be referred to as contracts for difference or CFDs). The use of swaps is a highly specialized activity that involves investment techniques and risks different from those associated with ordinary portfolio security transactions. These transactions generally do not involve the delivery of securities or other underlying assets.
Tracking Stocks.A tracking stock is a separate class of common stock whose value is linked to a specific business unit or operating division within a larger company and is designed to track the performance of such business unit or division. The tracking stock may pay dividends to shareholders independent of the parent company. The parent company, rather than the business unit or division, generally is the issuer of tracking stock. However, holders of the tracking stock may not have the same rights as holders of the company’s common stock.
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Future Developments.The Board may, in the future, authorize each Fund to invest in securities contracts and investments, other than those listed in this SAI and in the applicable Prospectus, provided they are consistent with each Fund's investment objective and do not violate any of its investment restrictions or policies.
General Considerations and Risks
A discussion of some of the principal risks associated with an investment in a Fund is contained in the applicable Prospectus.
An investment in a Fund should be made with an understanding that the value of the Fund’s portfoliosecurities may fluctuate in accordance with changes in the financial condition of the issuers of the portfolio securities, the value of preferred or common stocks in general, and other factors that affect the market. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Borrowing Risk. Borrowing may exaggerate changes in the NAV of Fund shares and in the return on a Fund’s portfolio. Borrowing will cause a Fund to incur interest expense and other fees. The costs of borrowing may reduce a Fund’s return. Borrowing may cause a Fund to liquidate positions when it may not be advantageous to do so to satisfy its obligations.
Custody Risk. Custody risk refers to the risks inherent in the process of clearing and settling trades and to the holding of securities, cash and other assets by local banks, agents and depositories. Low trading volumes and volatile prices in less developed markets make trades harder to complete and settle, and governments or trade groups may compel local agents to hold securities in designated depositories that may not be subject to independent evaluation. Local agents are held only to the standards of care of their local markets, and thus may be subject to limited or no government oversight. Communications between the U.S. and emerging market countries may be unreliable, increasing the risk of delayed settlements or losses of security certificates. In general, the less developed a country’s securities market is, the greater the likelihood of custody problems. Practices in relation to the settlement of securities transactions in emerging markets involve higher risks than those in developed markets, in part because of the use of brokers and counterparties that are often less well capitalized, and custody and registration of assets in some countries may be unreliable. The possibility of fraud, negligence or undue influence being exerted by the issuer or refusal to recognize ownership exists in some emerging markets, and, along with other factors, could result in ownership registration being lost. In addition, the laws of certain countries may put limits on a Fund’s ability to recover its assets if a foreign bank or depository or issuer of a security or an agent of any of the foregoing goes bankrupt. A Fund would absorb any loss resulting from such custody problems and may have no successful claim for compensation.
Dividend-Paying Stock Risk. Investing in dividend-paying stocks involves the risk that such stocks may fall out of favor with investors and underperform the broader market. Companies that issue dividend-paying stocks are not required to pay or continue paying dividends on such stocks. It is possible that issuers of the stocks held by a Fund will not declare dividends in the future or will reduce or eliminate the payment of dividends (including reducing or eliminating anticipated accelerations or increases in the payment of dividends) in the future.
Illiquid Investments Risk.Each Fund may not acquire any illiquid investment if, immediately after the acquisition, the Fund would have invested more than 15% of its net assets in illiquid investments. An illiquid investment is any investment that a Fund reasonably expects cannot be sold or disposed of in current market conditions in seven calendar days or less without significantly changing the market value of the investment. The liquidity of an investment will be determined based on relevant market, trading and investment specific considerations as set out in the Liquidity Program as required by the Liquidity Rule. Illiquid investments may trade at a discount to comparable, more liquid investments and a Fund may not be able to dispose of illiquid investments in a timely fashion or at their expected prices. If illiquid investments exceed 15% of a Fund’s net assets, the Liquidity Rule and the Liquidity Program will require that certain remedial actions be taken.
LIBOR Replacement Risk. A Fund may be exposed to financial instruments that are tied to the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) to determine payment obligations, financing terms, hedging strategies or investment value. The United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, announced that a majority of USD LIBOR settings will no longer be published after June 30, 2023. All other LIBOR settings and certain other interbank offered rates ceased to be published after December 31, 2021. The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR), which is a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by U.S. Treasury securities in the repurchase agreement market, has been used
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increasingly on a voluntary basis in new instruments and transactions. Under U.S. regulations that implement a statutory fallback mechanism to replace LIBOR, benchmark rates based on SOFR will replace LIBOR in different categories of financial contracts after June 30, 2023.
Neither the effect of the LIBOR transition process nor its ultimate success can yet be known. While some existing LIBOR-based instruments may contemplate a scenario where LIBOR is no longer available by providing for an alternative rate-setting methodology, there may be significant uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of any such alternative methodologies to replicate LIBOR. Not all existing LIBOR-based instruments may have alternative rate-setting provisions and there remains uncertainty regarding the willingness and ability of issuers to add alternative rate-setting provisions in certain existing instruments. Parties to contracts, securities, or other instruments using LIBOR may disagree on transition rates or the application of transition regulation, potentially resulting in uncertainty of performance and the possibility of litigation. A Fund may have instruments linked to other interbank offered rates that may also cease to be published in the future.
Money Market Instruments Risk. A Fund may hold money market instruments. The value of money market instruments may be affected by changes in interest rates or in the credit ratings of the investments, among other things. If a significant amount of a Fund's assets is invested in money market instruments, it may be more difficult for the Fund to achieve its investment objective. An investment in a money market fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. It is possible to lose money by investing in a money market fund. Money market funds other than U.S. government money market funds and retail money market funds float their NAV instead of using a stable $1.00 per share price.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by a Fund trade on foreign exchanges or in foreign markets that are closed when the securities exchange on which a Fund’s shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of such an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., a Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). The impact of a closed foreign market on a Fund is likely to be greater where a large portion of a Fund’s underlying securities and/or other assets trade on that closed foreign market or when the foreign market is closed for unscheduled reasons. These deviations may result in premiums or discounts to a Fund’s NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Operational Risk.BFA and a Fund's other service providers may experience disruptions or operating errors such as processing errors or human errors, inadequate or failed internal or external processes, or systems or technology failures, that could negatively impact the Funds. While service providers are required to have appropriate operational risk management policies and procedures, their methods of operational risk management may differ from a Fund’s in the setting of priorities, the personnel and resources available or the effectiveness of relevant controls. BFA, through its monitoring and oversight of service providers, seeks to ensure that service providers take appropriate precautions to avoid and mitigate risks that could lead to disruptions and operating errors. However, it is not possible for BFA or the other Fund service providers to identify all of the operational risks that may affect a Fund or to develop processes and controls to completely eliminate or mitigate their occurrence or effects.
Risk of Derivatives.A derivative is a financial contract, the value of which depends on, or is derived from, the value of an underlying asset, such as a security, a commodity (such as gold or silver), a currency or an index (a measure of value or rates, such as the S&P 500® or the prime lending rate). A Fund may invest in futures contracts, securities options, CFDs (for the iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF, iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF, iShares ESG Screened S&P Small-Cap ETF, iShares S&P Mid-Cap 400 Growth ETF, iShares S&P Mid-Cap 400 Value ETF, iShares S&P Small-Cap 600 Growth ETF, iShares S&P Small-Cap 600 Value ETF and iShares U.S. Infrastructure ETF) and other derivatives. Compared to securities, derivatives can be more sensitive to changes in interest rates or to sudden fluctuations in market prices and thus a Fund’s losses may be greater if it invests in derivatives than if it invests only in conventional securities. Derivatives are also subject to counterparty risk, which is the risk that the other party in the transaction will not fulfill its contractual obligations. Derivatives generally involve the incurrence of leverage.
When a derivative is used as a hedge against a position that a Fund holds or is committed to purchase, any loss generated by the derivative generally should be substantially offset by gains on the hedged investment, and vice versa. While hedging can reduce or eliminate losses, it can also reduce or eliminate gains, and in some cases, hedging can cause losses that are not offset by gains, and the Fund will recognize losses on both the investment and the hedge. Hedges are sometimes subject to imperfect matching between the derivative and the underlying security, and there can be no assurance that a Fund's hedging transactions, which entail additional transaction costs, will be effective.
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Risk of Equity Securities.An investment in a Fund should be made with an understanding of the risks inherent in an investment in equity securities, including the risk that the financial condition of issuers may become impaired or that the general condition of stock markets may deteriorate (either of which may cause a decrease in the value of the portfolio securities and thus in the value of shares of the Fund). Common stocks are susceptible to general stock market fluctuations and to increases and decreases in value as market confidence and perceptions of their issuers change. These investor perceptions are based on various and unpredictable factors, including expectations regarding government, economic, monetary and fiscal policies, inflation and interest rates, economic expansion or contraction, and global or regional political, economic or banking crises. Common stocks may experience extreme price volatility due to actions taken by particular investors or groups of investors (for example, retail investors influenced by social media activity or other media coverage or significant short positions taken by institutional investors).
Holders of common stocks incur more risks than holders of preferred stocks and debt obligations because common stockholders generally have rights to receive payments from stock issuers that are inferior to the rights of creditors, or holders of debt obligations or preferred stocks. Further, unlike debt securities, which typically have a stated principal amount payable at maturity (the value of which, however, is subject to market fluctuations prior to maturity), or preferred stocks, which typically have a liquidation preference and which may have stated optional or mandatory redemption provisions, common stocks have neither a fixed principal amount nor a maturity date. In addition, issuers may, in times of distress or at their own discretion, decide to reduce or eliminate dividends, which may also cause their stock price to decline.
The iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF invests a significant portion of its assets in preferred stock, although all of the Funds may invest in preferred stock. A Fund that invests in preferred stock may be exposed to certain risks not typically encountered by investing in common stock. Many preferred stocks pay dividends at a fixed rate, therefore, a preferred stock’s market price may be sensitive to changes in interest rates in a manner similar to bonds — that is, as interest rates rise, the value of the preferred stock is likely to decline. Many preferred stocks also allow holders to convert the preferred stock into common stock of the issuer; the market price of such preferred stocks may be sensitive to changes in the value of the issuer’s common stock. In addition, the ability of an issuer of preferred stock to pay dividends may deteriorate or the issuer may default (i.e., fail to make scheduled dividend payments on the preferred stock or scheduled interest payments on other obligations of the issuer), which would negatively affect the value of any such holding. Dividend payments on a preferred stock typically must be declared by the issuer’s board of directors. An issuer’s board of directors is generally not under any obligation to pay a dividend (even if such dividends have accrued), and may suspend payment of dividends on preferred stock at any time. Preferred stock is also subject to market volatility and the price of preferred stock will fluctuate based on market demand. Preferred stock often has a call feature which allows the issuer to redeem the security at its discretion. Therefore, preferred stocks having a higher than average yield may be called by the issuer, which may cause a decrease in the yield of a Fund that invested in the preferred stock.
Although most of the securities in each Underlying Index are listed on a securities exchange, the principal trading market for some of the securities may be in the OTC market. The existence of a liquid trading market for certain securities may depend on whether dealers will make a market in such securities. There can be no assurance that a market will be made or maintained or that any such market will be or remain liquid. The price at which securities may be sold and the value of a Fund’s shares will be adversely affected if trading markets for the Fund’s portfolio securities are limited or absent, or if bid/ask spreads are wide.
Risk of Futures and Options on Futures Transactions.There are several risks accompanying the utilization of futures contracts and options on futures contracts. A position in futures contracts and options on futures contracts may be closed only on the exchange on which the contract was made (or a linked exchange). While each Fund plans to utilize futures contracts only if an active market exists for such contracts, there is no guarantee that a liquid market will exist for the contract at a specified time. Futures contracts, by definition, project price levels in the future and not current levels of valuation; therefore, market circumstances may result in a discrepancy between the price of the future and the movement in a Fund's Underlying Index. In the event of adverse price movements, a Fund would continue to be required to make daily cash payments to maintain its required margin. In such situations, if a Fund has insufficient cash, it may have to sell portfolio securities to meet daily margin requirements at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so. In addition, a Fund may be required to deliver the instruments underlying the futures contracts it has sold.
The risk of loss in trading futures contracts or uncovered call options in some strategies (e.g., selling uncovered stock index futures contracts) is potentially unlimited. The Funds do not plan to use futures and options contracts in this way. The risk of a futures position may still be large as traditionally measured due to the low margin deposits required. In many cases, a
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relatively small price movement in a futures contract may result in immediate and substantial loss or gain to the investor relative to the size of a required margin deposit. The Funds, however, intend to utilize futures and options contracts in a manner designed to limit their risk exposure to levels comparable to a direct investment in the types of stocks in which they invest.
Utilization of futures and options on futures by a Fund involves the risk of imperfect or even negative correlation to its Underlying Index if the index underlying the futures contract differs from the Underlying Index. There is also the risk of loss of margin deposits in the event of bankruptcy of a broker with whom a Fund has an open position in the futures contract or option. The purchase of put or call options will be based upon predictions by BFA as to anticipated trends, which predictions could prove to be incorrect.
Because the futures market generally imposes less burdensome margin requirements than the securities market, an increased amount of participation by speculators in the futures market could result in price fluctuations. Certain financial futures exchanges limit the amount of fluctuation permitted in futures contract prices during a single trading day. The daily limit establishes the maximum amount by which the price of a futures contract may vary either up or down from the previous day’s settlement price at the end of a trading session. Once the daily limit has been reached in a particular type of contract, no trades may be made on that day at a price beyond that limit. It is possible that futures contract prices could move to the daily limit for several consecutive trading days with little or no trading, thereby preventing prompt liquidation of futures positions and subjecting each Fund to substantial losses. In the event of adverse price movements, each Fund would be required to make daily cash payments of variation margin.
Risk of Investing in Non-U.S. Equity Securities. An investment in any of the Funds that invest, directly or indirectly, in non-U.S. equity securities involves risks similar to those of investing in portfolios of equity securities traded on non-U.S. exchanges. These risks include market fluctuations caused by such factors as economic and political developments in those foreign countries, changes in interest rates and perceived trends in stock prices. Investing in securities issued by issuers domiciled in countries other than the domicile of the investor and denominated in currencies other than an investor’s local currency entails certain considerations and risks not typically encountered by the investor in making investments in its home country and in that country’s currency. These considerations include favorable or unfavorable changes in interest rates, currency exchange rates, exchange control regulations and the costs that may be incurred in connection with conversions between various currencies. Investing in any of these Funds also involves certain risks and considerations not typically associated with investing in a fund whose portfolio contains exclusively securities of U.S. issuers. These risks include generally less liquid and less efficient securities markets; generally greater price volatility; less publicly available information about issuers; the imposition of withholding or other taxes; the imposition of restrictions on the expatriation of funds or other assets of the Funds; higher transaction and custody costs; delays and risks attendant in settlement procedures; difficulties in enforcing contractual obligations; lower liquidity and significantly smaller market capitalization; different accounting and disclosure standards; lower levels of regulation of the securities markets; more substantial government interference with the economy and businesses; higher rates of inflation; greater social, economic, and political uncertainty; the risk of nationalization or expropriation of assets; and the risk of war.
Risk of Investing in Mid-Capitalization Companies.Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies may be more volatile than those of large-capitalization companies, and, therefore, a Fund’s share price may be more volatile than that of funds that invest a larger percentage of their assets in stocks issued by large-capitalization companies. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies are also more vulnerable than those of large-capitalization companies to adverse business or economic developments, and the stocks of mid-capitalization companies may be less liquid than those of large-capitalization companies, making it more difficult for the Funds to buy and sell shares of mid-capitalization companies. In addition, mid-capitalization companies generally have less diverse product lines than large-capitalization companies and are more susceptible to adverse developments related to their products.
Risk of Non-U.S. Preferred Stock. A Fund that invests in preferred stock may be exposed to certain risks not typically encountered by investing in common stock. Many preferred stocks pay dividends at a fixed rate, therefore, a preferred stock’s market price may be sensitive to changes in interest rates in a manner similar to bonds — that is, as interest rates rise, the value of the preferred stock is likely to decline. Many preferred stocks also allow holders to convert the preferred stock into common stock of the issuer; the market price of such preferred stocks can be sensitive to changes in the value of the issuer’s common stock. In addition, the ability of an issuer of preferred stock to pay dividends may deteriorate or the issuer may default (i.e., fail to make scheduled dividend payments on the preferred stock or scheduled interest payments on other obligations of the issuer), which would negatively affect the value of any such holding. Dividend payments on a preferred
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stock typically must be declared by the issuer’s board of directors. An issuer’s board of directors is generally not under any obligation to pay a dividend (even if such dividends have accrued), and may suspend payment of dividends on preferred stock at any time. Preferred stock is also subject to market volatility and the price of preferred stock will fluctuate based on market demand. Preferred stock often has a call feature which allows the issuer to redeem the security at its discretion. Therefore, preferred stocks having a higher than average yield may be called by the issuer, which may cause a decrease in the yield of a fund that invested in the preferred stock. Also, non U.S. preferred stock may have different rights or privileges than those commonly associated with U.S. preferred stock. In addition to the risks listed above, investors in non U.S. preferred stock may experience difficulty or uncertainty in determining and enforcing their rights related to preferred stock.
Risk of Swap Agreements.The risk of loss with respect to swaps is generally limited to the net amount of payments that a Fund is contractually obligated to make. Swap agreements are subject to the risk that the swap counterparty will default on its obligationsto pay a Fund and the risk that a Fund will not be able to meet its obligations to pay the other party to the agreement. If such a default occurs, the parties will have contractual remedies pursuant to the agreements related to the transaction. However, such remedies may be subject to bankruptcy and insolvency laws, which could affect such Fund’s rights as a creditor (e.g., a Fund may not receive the net amount of payments that it is contractually entitled to receive). Swap agreements may also involve the risk that there is an imperfect correlation between the return on the Fund’s obligation to its counterparty and the return on the referenced asset. In addition, swap agreements are subject to market and liquidity risk, leverage risk and hedging risk.
A Fund is required to post and collect variation margin and initial margin (comprised of specified liquid securities subject to haircuts) in connection with trading of OTC swaps. These requirements may raise the costs for a Fund’s investment in swaps.
Tracking Error Risk.A Fund may be subject to tracking error, which is the divergence of a Fund’s performance from that of the applicable underlying index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities and other instruments held in a Fund’s portfolio and those included in its applicable underlying index, pricing differences, transaction costs incurred by a Fund, a Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or interest received by a Fund or distributions paid to a Fund’s shareholders, the requirements to maintain pass-through tax treatment, portfolio transactions carried out to minimize the distribution of capital gains to shareholders, acceptance of custom baskets, changes to the applicable underlying index or the costs to a Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. This risk may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions. Tracking error also may result because a Fund incurs fees and expenses, while its applicable underlying index does not. Tracking error may occur due to differences between the methodologies used in calculating the value of the applicable Underlying Index and determining a Fund’s NAV.
When an issuer is introduced by an index provider into an index tracked by a Fund, BFA may conduct an analysis on such issuer’s securities to identify and screen for outlier high risk behavior (such as rapid or unusual price growth that does not appear to be supported by publicly available information on the business and assets of the issuer, unusual or significant short interest or lending activity, negative sentiment, suspended trading or incorrect free-float calculations, which could be indicators of possible irregularities, miscalculations or even fraud). If it identifies such behavior, BFA may, where appropriate, alert the index provider as to the alleged issue. The index provider has sole discretion for the determination as to whether to continue to include the issuer’s securities in the rebalancing of its index. If the securities continue to be included in the index, BFA may underweight or exclude such securities from a Fund’s portfolio and, if it does so, such a fund will be subject to increased tracking error due to the divergence in the securities included in its portfolio from its underlying index. BFA’s underweighting or excluding such securities may result in a decline in a Fund’s net asset value. The application of the abovementioned analysis and screening to a Fund and its Underlying Index is in the sole discretion of BFA and its affiliates (without any guarantees). The analysis and screening may not exclude any or all high risk securities from an Underlying Index or a Fund’s portfolio, and the inclusion of such securities will result in an adverse impact to a Fund’s net asset value if one or more such securities declines in value.
Risk of Investing in Asia. Investments in securities of issuers in certain Asian countries involve risks not typically associated with investments in securities of issuers in other regions. Such heightened risksinclude, among others, expropriation and/or nationalization of assets, confiscatory taxation, piracy of intellectual property, data and other security breaches (especially of data stored electronically), political instability, including authoritarian and/or military involvement in governmental decision-making, armed conflict and social instability as a result of religious, ethnic and/or socio-economic unrest. Certain Asian economies have experienced rapid rates of economic growth and industrialization in recent years, and there is no assurance that these rates of economic growth and industrialization will be maintained.
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Certain Asian countries have democracies with relatively short histories, which may increase the risk of political instability. These countries have faced political and military unrest, and further unrest could present a risk to their local economies and securities markets. Indonesia and the Philippines have each experienced violence and terrorism, which has negatively impacted their economies. North Korea and South Korea each have substantial military capabilities, and historical tensions between the two countries present the risk of war. Escalated tensions involving the two countries and any outbreak of hostilities between the two countries, or even the threat of an outbreak of hostilities, could have a severe adverse effect on the entire Asian region. Certain Asian countries have also developed increasingly strained relationships with the U.S., and if these relations were to worsen, they could adversely affect Asian issuers that rely on the U.S. for trade. Political, religious, and border disputes persist in India. India has recently experienced and may continue to experience civil unrest and hostilities with certain of its neighboring countries. Increased political and social unrest in these geographic areas could adversely affect the performance of investments in this region.
Certain governments in this region administer prices on several basic goods, including fuel and electricity, within their respective countries. Certain governments may exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector in their respective countries and may own or control many companies. Future government actions could have a significant effect on the economic conditions in this region, which in turn could have a negative impact on private sector companies. There is also the possibility of diplomatic developments adversely affecting investments in the region.
Corruption and the perceived lack of a rule of law in dealings with international companies in certain Asian countries may discourage foreign investment and could negatively impact the long-term growth of certain economies in this region. In addition, certain countries in the region are experiencing high unemployment and corruption, and have fragile banking sectors.
Some economies in this region are dependent on a range of commodities, including oil, natural gas and coal. Accordingly, they are strongly affected by international commodity prices and particularly vulnerable to any weakening in global demand for these products. The market for securities in this region may also be directly influenced by the flow of international capital, and by the economic and market conditions of neighboring countries. China is a key trading partner of many Asian countries and any changes in trading relationships between China and other Asian countries may affect the region as a whole. Adverse economic conditions or developments in neighboring countries may increase investors' perception of the risk of investing in the region as a whole, which may adversely impact the market value of the securities issued by companies in the region.
Risk of Investing in Australasia. The economies of Australasia, which include Australia and New Zealand, are dependent on exports from the agricultural and mining sectors. This makes Australasian economies susceptible to fluctuations in the commodity markets. Australasian economies are also increasingly dependent on their growing service industries. Australia and New Zealand are located in a part of the world that has historically been prone to natural disasters, such as drought and flooding. Any such event in the future could have a significant adverse impact on the economies of Australia and New Zealand and affect the value of securities held by a Fund. The economies of Australia and New Zealand are dependent on trading with certain key trading partners, including Asia and the U.S. Economic events in the U.S., Asia, or in other key trading countries can have a significant economic effect on the Australasian economies. The economies of Australia and New Zealand are heavily dependent on the mining sector. Passage of new regulations limiting foreign ownership of companies in the mining sector or imposition of new taxes on profits of mining companies may dissuade foreign investment, and as a result, have a negative impact on companies to which a Fund has exposure.
Risk of Investing in Canada. The U.S. is Canada’s largest trading and investment partner, and the Canadian economy is significantly affected by developments in the U.S. economy. Since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 among Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, total two-way merchandise trade between the U.S. and Canada has more than doubled. Any downturn in U.S. or Mexican economic activity is likely to have an adverse impact on the Canadian economy. Political developments, including the implementation of tariffs by the U.S. and the renegotiation of NAFTA in the form of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced NAFTA on or around July 1, 2020, could have an adverse impact on Canadian securities. The Canadian economy is also dependent upon external trade with other key trading partners, specifically China and the United Kingdom(the U.K.). As a result, Canada is dependent on the economies of these other countries. In addition, Canada is a large supplier of natural resources (e.g., oil, natural gas and agricultural products). As a result, the Canadian economy is sensitive to fluctuations in certain commodity prices.
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Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. Many countries with developed markets have recently experienced significant economic pressures. These countries generally tend to rely on the services sectors (e.g., the financial services sector) as the primary source of economic growth and may be susceptible to the risks of individual service sectors. For example, companies in the financial services sector are subject to governmental regulation and, recently, government intervention, which may adversely affect the scope of their activities, the prices they can charge and amount of capital they must maintain. Dislocations in the financial sector and perceived or actual governmental influence over certain financial companies may lead to credit rating downgrades and, as a result, impact, among other things, revenue growth for such companies. If financial companies experience a prolonged decline in revenue growth, certain developed countries that rely heavily on financial companies as an economic driver may experience a correlative slowdown. Concerns have emerged with respect to the economic health of certain developed countries. These concerns primarily stem from heavy indebtedness of many developed countries and their perceived inability to continue to service high debt loads without simultaneously implementing stringent austerity measures. Such concerns have led to tremendous downward pressure on the economies of these countries. As a result, it is possible that interest rates on debt of certain developed countries may rise to levels that make it difficult for such countries to service such debt. Spending on health care and retirement pensions in most developed countries has risen dramatically. Medical innovation, extended life expectancy and higher public expectations are likely to continue the increase in health care and pension costs. Any increase in health care and pension costs will likely have a negative impact on the economic growth of many developed countries. Certain developed countries rely on imports of certain key items, such as crude oil, natural gas, and other commodities. As a result, an increase in demand for, or price fluctuations of, certain commodities may negatively affect developed country economies. Developed market countries generally are dependent on the economies of certain key trading partners. Changes in any one economy may cause an adverse impact on several developed countries. In addition, heavy regulation of, among others, labor and product markets may have an adverse effect on certain issuers. Such regulations may negatively affect economic growth or cause prolonged periods of recession. Such risks, among others, may adversely affect the value of a Fund’s investments.
Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets. Investments in emerging market countries may be subject to greater risks than investments in developed countries. These risks include: (i) less social, political, and economic stability; (ii) greater illiquidity and price volatility due to smaller or limited local capital markets for such securities, or low or non-existent trading volumes; (iii) companies, custodians, clearinghouses, foreign exchanges and broker-dealers may be subject to less scrutiny and regulation by local authorities; (iv) local governments may decide to seize or confiscate securities held by foreign investors and/or local governments may decide to suspend or limit an issuer's ability to make dividend or interest payments; (v) local governments may limit or entirely restrict repatriation of invested capital, profits, and dividends; (vi) capital gains may be subject to local taxation, including on a retroactive basis; (vii) issuers facing restrictions on standard payments imposed by local governments may attempt to make dividend or interest payments to foreign investors in the local currency; (viii) there may be significant obstacles to obtaining information necessary for investigations into or litigation against companies and investors may experience difficulty in enforcing legal claims related to the securities and/or local judges may favor the interests of the issuer over those of foreign parties; (ix) bankruptcy judgments may only be permitted to be paid in the local currency; (x) limited public information regarding the issuer may result in greater difficulty in determining market valuations of the securities; and (xi) lack of financial reporting on a regular basis, substandard disclosure and differences in accounting standards may make it difficult to ascertain the financial health of an issuer. The Funds are not actively managed and do not select investments based on investor protection considerations.
Emerging market securities markets are typically marked by a high concentration of market capitalization and trading volume in a small number of issuers representing a limited number of industries, as well as a high concentration of ownership of such securities by a limited number of investors. In addition, brokerage and other costs associated with transactions in emerging market securities can be higher, sometimes significantly, than similar costs incurred in securities markets in developed countries. Although some emerging markets have become more established and tend to issue securities of higher credit quality, the markets for securities in other emerging market countries are in the earliest stages of their development, and these countries issue securities across the credit spectrum. Even the markets for relatively widely traded securities in emerging market countries may not be able to absorb, without price disruptions, a significant increase in trading volume or trades of a size customarily undertaken by institutional investors in the securities markets of developed countries. The limited size of many of these securities markets can cause prices to be erratic for reasons apart from factors that affect the soundness and competitiveness of the securities issuers. For example, prices may be unduly influenced by traders who control large positions in these markets. Additionally, market making and arbitrage activities are generally less extensive in such markets, which may contribute to increased volatility and reduced liquidity of such markets. The limited liquidity of
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emerging market country securities may also affect a Fund's ability to accurately value its portfolio securities or to acquire or dispose of securities at the price and time it wishes to do so or in order to meet redemption requests.
Many emerging market countries suffer from uncertainty and corruption in their legal frameworks. Legislation may be difficult to interpret and laws may be too new to provide any precedential value. Laws regarding foreign investment and private property may be weak or non-existent. Sudden changes in governments may result in policies which are less favorable to investors such as policies designed to expropriate or nationalize sovereign assets. Certain emerging market countries in the past have expropriated large amounts of private property, in many cases with little or no compensation, and there can be no assurance that such expropriation will not occur in the future.
Investment in the securities markets of certain emerging market countries is restricted or controlled to varying degrees. These restrictions may limit a Fund's investment in certain emerging market countries and may increase the expenses of the Fund. Certain emerging market countries require governmental approval prior to investments by foreign persons or limit investment by foreign persons to only a specified percentage of an issuer's outstanding securities or a specific class of securities which may have less advantageous terms (including price) than securities of the company available for purchase by nationals.
Many emerging market countries lack the social, political, and economic stability characteristic of the U.S. Political instability among emerging market countries can be common and may be caused by an uneven distribution of wealth, social unrest, labor strikes, civil wars, and religious oppression. Economic instability in emerging market countries may take the form of: (i) high interest rates; (ii) high levels of inflation, including hyperinflation; (iii) high levels of unemployment or underemployment; (iv) changes in government economic and tax policies, including confiscatory taxation; and (v) imposition of trade barriers.
A Fund's income and, in some cases, capital gains from foreign securities will be subject to applicable taxation in certain of the emerging market countries in which it invests, and treaties between the U.S. and such countries may not be available in some cases to reduce the otherwise applicable tax rates.
Emerging markets also have different clearance and settlement procedures, and in certain of these emerging markets there have been times when settlements have been unable to keep pace with the volume of securities transactions, making it difficult to conduct such transactions.
In the past, certain governments in emerging market countries have become overly reliant on the international capital markets and other forms of foreign credit to finance large public spending programs, which in the past have caused huge budget deficits. Often, interest payments have become too overwhelming for a government to meet, representing a large percentage of total GDP. These foreign obligations have become the subject of political debate and served as fuel for political parties of the opposition, which pressure the government not to make payments to foreign creditors, but instead to use these funds for, among other things, social programs. Either due to an inability to pay or submission to political pressure, foreign governments have been forced to seek a restructuring of their loan and/or bond obligations, have declared a temporary suspension of interest payments or have defaulted. These events have adversely affected the values of securities issued by foreign governments and corporations domiciled in those countries and have negatively affected not only their cost of borrowing, but their ability to borrow in the future as well.
Risk of Investing in Europe. Investing in European countries may expose a Fund to the economic and political risks associated with Europe in general and the specific European countries in which it invests. The economies and markets of European countries are often closely connected and interdependent, and events in one European country can have an adverse impact on other European countries. A Fund makes investments in securities of issuers that are domiciled in, have significant operations in, or that are listed on at least one securities exchange within member states of the European Union (the EU). A number of countries within the EU are also members of the Economic and Monetary Union (the eurozone) and have adopted the euro as their currency. Eurozone membership requires member states to comply with restrictions on inflation rates, deficits, interest rates, debt levels and fiscal and monetary controls, each of which may significantly affect every country in Europe. Changes in import or export tariffs, changes in governmental or EU regulations on trade, changes in the exchange rate of the euro and other currencies of certain EU countries which are not in the eurozone, the default or threat of default by an EU member state on its sovereign debt, and/or an economic recession in an EU member state may have a significant adverse effect on the economies of other EU member states and their trading partners. Although certain European countries are not in the eurozone, many of these countries are obliged to meet the criteria for joining the eurozone.
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Consequently, these countries must comply with many of the restrictions noted above. The European financial markets have experienced volatility and adverse trends due to concerns about economic downturns, government debt levels and the possible default of government debt in several European countries, including, but not limited to, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ukraine. In order to prevent further economic deterioration, certain countries, without prior warning, can institute capital controls. Countries may use these controls to restrict volatile movements of capital entering and exiting their country. Such controls may negatively affect a Fund’s investments. A default or debt restructuring by any European country would adversely impact holders of that country’s debt and sellers of credit default swaps linked to that country’s creditworthiness, which may be located in countries other than those listed above. In addition, the credit ratings of certain European countries were downgraded in the past. These events have adversely affected the value and exchange rate of the euro and may continue to significantly affect the economies of every country in Europe, including countries that do not use the euro and non-EU member states. Responses to the financial problems by European governments, central banks and others, including austerity measures and reforms, may not produce the desired results, may result in social unrest and may limit future growth and economic recovery or have other unintended consequences. Further defaults or restructurings by governments and other entities of their debt could have additional adverse effects on economies, financial markets and asset valuations around the world. In addition, one or more countries may abandon the euro and/or withdraw from the EU. The impact of these actions, especially if they occur in a disorderly fashion, is not clear but could be significant and far-reaching and could adversely impact the value of a Fund’s investments in the region.
The U.K. left the EU (Brexit) on January 31, 2020. Brexit could adversely affect European or worldwide political, regulatory, economic or market conditions and could contribute to instability in global political institutions, regulatory agencies and financial markets.
Certain European countries have also developed increasingly strained relationships with the U.S., and if these relations were to worsen, they could adversely affect European issuers that rely on the U.S. for trade. The national politics of countries in Europe have been unpredictable and subject to influence by disruptive political groups and ideologies, including for example, secessionist movements. The governments of European countries may be subject to change and such countries may experience social and political unrest. Unanticipated or sudden political or social developments may result in sudden and significant investment losses. The occurrence of terrorist incidents throughout Europe or war in the region also could impact financial markets. The impact of these events is not clear but could be significant and far-reachingand could adversely affect the value and liquidity of a Fund's investments.
Russian Invasion of Ukraine. Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The extent and duration of the military action, resulting sanctions and resulting future market disruptions, including declines in its stock markets and the value of the ruble against the U.S. dollar, are impossible to predict, but could be significant. Disruptions caused by Russian military action or other actions (including cyberattacks and espionage) or resulting actual and threatened responses to such activity, including purchasing and financing restrictions, boycotts or changes in consumer or purchaser preferences, sanctions, import and export restrictions, tariffs or cyberattacks on the Russian government, Russian companies or Russian individuals, including politicians, may impact Russia's economy, Russian issuers of securities in which a Fund invests, or the economies of Europe as a whole. Actual and threatened responses to Russian military action may also impact the markets for certain Russian commodities, such as oil and natural gas, as well as other sectors of the Russian economy, and are likely to have collateral impacts on such sectors across Europe and globally.
Risk of Investing in Japan. Japan may be subject to political, economic, labor and other risks. Any of these risks, individually or in the aggregate, can impact an investment made in Japan.
Currency Risk. The Japanese yen has fluctuated widely at times and any increase in its value may cause a decline in exports that could weaken the Japanese economy. Japan has, in the past, intervened in the currency markets to attempt to maintain or reduce the value of the yen. Japanese intervention in the currency markets could cause the value of the yen to fluctuate sharply and unpredictably and could cause losses to investors.
Economic Risk. The growth of Japan’s economy has recently lagged that of its Asian neighbors and other major developed economies. Since 2000, Japan’s economic growth rate has generally remained low relative to other advanced economies, and it may remain low in the future. The Japanese economy is heavily dependent on international trade and has been adversely affected by trade tariffs, other protectionist measures, competition from emerging economies and the economic conditions of its trading partners. Japan is also heavily dependent on oil imports, and higher commodity prices could therefore have a negative impact on the Japanese economy.
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Geographic Risk. Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons and tsunamis, could occur in Japan or surrounding areas and could negatively affect the Japanese economy, and, in turn, could negatively affect a Fund.
Labor Risk. Japan has an aging workforce and has experienced a significant population decline in recent years. Japan’s labor market appears to be undergoing fundamental structural changes, as a labor market traditionally accustomed to lifetime employment adjusts to meet the need for increased labor mobility, which may adversely affect Japan’s economic competitiveness.
Large Government and Corporate Debt Risk. The Japanese economy faces several concerns, including a financial system with large levels of nonperforming loans, over-leveraged corporate balance sheets, extensive cross-ownership by major corporations, a changing corporate governance structure, and large government deficits. These issues may cause a slowdown of the Japanese economy.
Political Risk. Historically, Japan has had unpredictable national politics and may experience frequent political turnover. Future political developments may lead to changes in policy that might adversely affect a Fund’s investments. In addition, China has become an important trading partner with Japan. Japan’s political relationship with China, however, has been strained. Should political tension increase, it could adversely affect the Japanese economy and destabilize the region as a whole.
Security Risk. Japan's relations with its neighbors, particularly China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, have at times been strained due to territorial disputes, historical animosities and defense concerns. Most recently, the Japanese government has shown concern over the increased nuclear and military activity by North Korea and China. Strained relations may cause uncertainty in the Japanese markets and adversely affect the overall Japanese economy, particularly in times of crisis.
Risk of Investing in North America. A decrease in imports or exports, changes in trade regulations or an economic recession in any North American country can have a significant economic effect on the entire North American region and on some or all of the North American countries in which a Fund invests.
The U.S. is Canada's and Mexico's largest trading and investment partner. The Canadian and Mexican economies are significantly affected by developments in the U.S. economy. Since the implementation of NAFTA in 1994 among Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, total merchandise trade among the three countries has increased. However, political developments including the implementation of tariffs by the U.S., and the renegotiation of NAFTA in the form of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced NAFTA on July 1, 2020, could negatively affect North America’s economic outlook and, as a result, the value of securities held by a Fund. Policy and legislative changes in one country may have a significant effect on North American markets generally, as well as on the value of certain securities held by a Fund.
Risk of Investing in the United Kingdom.Investment in U.K. issuers may subject a Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, and economic risks specific to the U.K. The U.K. economy relies heavily on the export of financial services to the U.S. and other European countries. A prolonged slowdown in the financial services sector may have a negative impact on the U.K.’s economy. In the past, the U.K. has been a target of terrorism. Acts of terrorism in the U.K. or against U.K. interests abroad may cause uncertainty in the U.K. financial marketsand adversely affect the performance of the issuers to which a Fund has exposure. Secessionist movements, such as the Catalan movement in Spain and the independence movement in Scotland, may have an adverse effect on the U.K. economy.
On January 31, 2020, the U.K. officially left the EU (Brexit), subject to a transitional period that ended December 31, 2020. The U.K. and EU have reached an agreement on the terms of their future trading relationship effective January 1, 2021, which principally relates to the trading of goods rather than services, including financial services. Further discussions are to be held between the U.K. and the EU in relation to matters not covered by the trade agreement, such as financial services. A Fund will face risks associated with the potential uncertainty and consequences that may follow Brexit, including with respect to volatility in exchange rates and interest rates. Brexit could adversely affect European or worldwide political, regulatory, economic or market conditions and could contribute to instability in global political institutions, regulatory agencies and financial markets. Brexit has also led to legal uncertainty and could lead to politically divergent national laws and regulations as a new relationship between the U.K. and EU is defined and the U.K. determines which EU laws to replace or replicate. Any of these effects of Brexit could adversely affect any of the companies to which a Fund has exposure and any other assets that a Fund invests in. The political, economic and legal consequences of Brexit are not yet known. In the short term, financial markets may experience heightened volatility, particularly those in the U.K. and Europe, but possibly worldwide. The U.K. and Europe may be less stable than they have been in recent years, and investments in the U.K. and the EU may be difficult to value or subject to greater or more frequent volatility. In the longer term, there is likely to be a period of significant political,
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regulatory and commercial uncertainty as the U.K. continues to negotiate the terms of its future trading relationships. Recently, the U.K.'s real estate sector has experienced significant volatility and declines in the value of many real estate securities, including real estate funds, real estate investment trusts (REITs) and real estate holding companies. Increased volatility and investor redemption requests in real estate funds may result in the continued decline in the value and liquidity of real estate securities, which may impair the ability of a Fund to buy, sell, receive or deliver those securities.
U.S. Economic Trading Partners Risk. The U.S. is a significant, and in some cases the most significant, trading partner of, or foreign investor in, certain countries in which a Fund invests. As a result, economic conditions of such countries may be particularly affected by changes in the U.S. economy. A decrease in U.S. imports or exports, new trade and financial regulations or tariffs, changes in the U.S. dollar exchange rate or an economic slowdown in the U.S. may have a material adverse effect on a country’s economic conditions and, as a result, securities to which a Fund has exposure. Circumstances could arise that could prevent the timely payment of interest or principal on U.S. government debt, such as reaching the legislative debt ceiling. Such non-payment would result in substantial negative consequences for the U.S. economy and the global financial system.
There are strained relations between the U.S. and a number of foreign countries, including traditional allies, such as certain European countries, and historical adversaries, such as North Korea, Iran, China and Russia. If these relations were to worsen, it could adversely affect U.S. issuers as well as non-U.S. issuers that rely on the U.S. for trade. The U.S. has also experienced increased internal unrest and discord. If these trends were to continue, it may have an adverse impact on the U.S. economy and many of the issuers in which a Fund invests.
Risk of Investing in the Aerospace and Defense Industry. The aerospace and defense industry can be significantly affected by government defense and aerospace regulation and spending policies. The aerospace industry in particular has recently been affected by adverse economic conditions and consolidation within the industry.
Risk of Investing in the Basic Materials Industry. Issuers in the basic materials industry could be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, exchange rate fluctuations, social and political unrest, import controls and increased competition. Companies in the basic materials industry may be subject to swift fluctuations in supply and demand. Fluctuations may be caused by events relating to political and economic developments, the environmental impact of basic materials operations, and the success of exploration projects. Production of industrial materials often exceeds demand as a result of over-building or economic downturns, leading to poor investment returns. Issuers in the basic materials industry are at risk for environmental damage and product liability claims and may be adversely affected by depletion of resources, delays in technical progress, labor relations, tax and government regulations related to changes to, among other things, energy and environmental policies.
Risk of Investing in the Biotechnology Industry. Biotechnology companies depend on the successful development of new and proprietary technologies. There can be no assurance that the development of new technologies will be successful or that intellectual property rights will be obtained with respect to new technologies. The loss or impairment of intellectual property rights may adversely affect the profitability of biotechnology companies. In addition, companies in the biotechnology industry spend heavily on research and development and their products or services may not prove commercially successful or may become obsolete quickly. The risks of high development costs may be exacerbated by the inability to raise prices as a result of managed care pressure, government regulation or price controls. Biotechnology companies can suffer persistent losses during the transition of new products from development to production or when products are or may be subject to regulatory approval processes or regulatory scrutiny and, as a consequence, the earnings of biotechnology companies may be erratic. Companies in the biotechnology industry are also exposed to the risk that they will be subject to products liability claims. Companies involved in the biotechnology industry may be subject to extensive government regulations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, among other foreign and domestic regulators. Such regulation may significantly affect and limit biotechnology research, product development and approval of products.
Risk of Investing in the Communication Services Sector. The communication services sector consists of both companies in the telecommunication services industry as well as those in the media and entertainment industry. Examples of companies in the telecommunication services industry group include providers of fiber-optic, fixed-line, cellular and wireless telecommunications networks. Companies in the media and entertainment industry group encompass a variety of services and products including television broadcasting, gaming products, social media, networking platforms, online classifieds, online review websites, and Internet search engines. Companies in the communication services sector may be affected by
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industry competition, substantial capital requirements, government regulation, and obsolescence of communications products and services due to technological advancement. Fluctuating domestic and international demand, shifting demographics and often unpredictable changes in consumer tastes can drastically affect a communication services company's profitability. In addition, while all companies may be susceptible to network security breaches, certain companies in the communication services sector may be particular targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or consumer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses.
The communication services sector of a country’s economy is often subject to extensive government regulation. The costs of complying with governmental regulations, delays or failure to receive required regulatory approvals, or the enactment of new regulatory requirements may negatively affect the business of communications companies. Government actions around the world, specifically in the area of pre-marketing clearance of products and prices, can be arbitrary and unpredictable. The communications services industry can also be significantly affected by intense competition for market share, including competition with alternative technologies such as wireless communications, product compatibility and standardization, consumer preferences, rapid product obsolescence, research and development of new products, lack of standardization or compatibility with existing technologies, and a dependency on patent and copyright protections. Companies in the communication services sector may encounter distressed cash flows due to the need to commit substantial capital to meet increasing competition, particularly in developing new products and services using new technology. Technological innovations may make the products and services of certain communications companies obsolete.
Telecommunications providers with exposure to the U.S. are generally required to obtain franchises or licenses in order to provide services in a given location. Licensing and franchise rights in the telecommunications sector are limited, which may provide an advantage to certain participants. Limited availability of such rights, high barriers to market entry and regulatory oversight, among other factors, have led to consolidation of companies within the sector, which could lead to further regulation or other negative effects in the future. Telecommunication providers investing in non-U.S. countries may be subject to similar risks. Additional risks include those related to competitive challenges in the U.S. from non-U.S. competitors engaged in strategic joint ventures with U.S. companies and in non-U.S. markets from both U.S. and non-U.S. competitors.
Companies in the media and entertainment industries can be significantly affected by several factors, including competition, particularly in formulation of products and services using new technologies, cyclicality of revenues and earnings, a potential decrease in the discretionary income of targeted individuals, changing consumer tastes and interests, and the potential increase in government regulation. Companies in the media and entertainment industries may become obsolete quickly. Advertising spending can be an important revenue source for media and entertainment companies. During economic downturns advertising spending typically decreases and, as a result, media and entertainment companies tend to generate less revenue.
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Discretionary Sector. Companies engaged in the design, production or distribution of products or services for the consumer discretionary sector (including, without limitation, television and radio broadcasting, manufacturing, publishing, recording and musical instruments, motion pictures, photography, amusement and theme parks, gaming casinos, sporting goods and sports arenas, camping and recreational equipment, toys and games, apparel, travel-related services, automobiles, hotels and motels, and fast food and other restaurants) are subject to the risk that their products or services may become obsolete quickly. The success of these companies can depend heavily on disposable household income and consumer spending. During periods of an expanding economy, the consumer discretionary sector may outperform the consumer staples sector, but may underperform when economic conditions worsen. Moreover, the consumer discretionary sector can be significantly affected by several factors, including, without limitation, the performance of domestic and international economies, exchange rates, changing consumer preferences, demographics, marketing campaigns, cyclical revenue generation, consumer confidence, commodity price volatility, labor relations, interest rates, import and export controls, intense competition, technological developments and government regulation.
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Staples Sector. Companies in the consumer staples sector may be adversely affected by changes in the global economy, consumer spending, competition, demographics and consumer preferences, and production spending. Companies in the consumer staples sector may also be affected by changes in global economic, environmental and political events, economic conditions, the depletion of resources, and government regulation. For instance, government regulations may affect the permissibility of using various food additives and production methods of companies that make food products, which could affect company profitability. In addition, tobacco companies may be adversely affected by the adoption of proposed legislation and/or by litigation. Companies in the consumer staples sector also may be subject to risks pertaining to the supply of, demand for and prices of raw materials. The prices of raw materials fluctuate in response to a
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number of factors, including, without limitation, changes in government agricultural support programs, exchange rates, import and export controls, changes in international agricultural and trading policies, and seasonal and weather conditions. Companies in the consumer staples sector may be subject to severe competition, which may also have an adverse impact on their profitability.
Risk of Investing in the Energy Sector. Companies in the energy sector are strongly affected by the changes in and volatility of global energy prices, energy supply and demand, government regulations and policies, energy production and conservation efforts, technological change, development of alternative energy sources, and other factors that they cannot control. Energy companies may have relatively high levels of debt and may be more likely to restructure their businesses if there are downturns in energy markets or in the global economy. If an energy company in a Fund's portfolio becomes distressed, a Fund could lose all or a substantial portion of its investment. The energy sector is cyclical and is highly dependent on commodity prices. Prices and supplies of energy may fluctuate significantly over short and long periods of time due to, among other things, national and international political changes, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) policies, changes in relationships among OPEC members and between OPEC and oil-importing nations, the regulatory environment, taxation policies, the enactment or cessation of trade sanctions, war or other geopolitical conflicts, and the economies of key energy-consuming countries. Companies in the energy sector may be adversely affected by terrorism, cyber incidents, natural disasters or other catastrophes. Companies in the energy sector are at risk of liability from accidents resulting in injury, loss of life or property, pollution or other environmental damage claims. Significant oil and gas deposits are located in emerging markets countries where corruption and security may raise significant risks, in addition to the other risks of investing in emerging markets. Additionally, the Middle East, where many companies in the energy sector may operate, has experienced conflict and unrest. Companies in the energy sector may also be adversely affected by changes in exchange rates, interest rates, economic conditions, tax treatment, government regulation and intervention, negative perception, efforts at energy conservation and world events in the regions in which the companies operate (e.g., expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and repatriation of capital, military coups, social unrest, violence or labor unrest). Because a significant portion of revenues of companies in this sector is derived from a relatively small number of customers that are largely composed of governmental entities and utilities, governmental budget constraints may have a significant impact on companies in this sector. The energy sector is highly regulated. Entities operating in the energy sector are subject to significant regulation of nearly every aspect of their operations by governmental agencies. Such regulation can change rapidly or over time in both scope and intensity. Stricter laws, regulations or enforcement policies could be enacted, which would likely increase compliance costs and may materially adversely affect the financial performance of companies in the energy sector.
The energy sector may experience significant market volatility. For example, Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 led to further disruptions and increased volatility in the energy and commodity futures markets due to actual and potential disruptions in the supply and demand for certain commodities, including oil and natural gas. The U.S. and other actors have enacted various sanctions and restrictions on business dealings with Russia, which include restrictions on imports of oil, natural gas and coal. The effect of the current sanctions and restrictions, as well as the extent and duration of the Russian military action, additional sanctions and associated market disruptions on the energy sector, are impossible to predict and depend on a number of factors. The effect of these events or any related developments could be significant and may have a severe adverse effect on the performance of a Fund.
Risk of Investing in the Financials Sector. Companies in the financials sector include small, regional and money center banks, securities brokerage firms, asset management companies, savings banks and thrift institutions, specialty finance companies (e.g., credit card, mortgage providers), insurance and insurance brokerage firms, consumer finance firms, financial conglomerates and foreign banking and financial companies.
Most financial companies are subject to extensive governmental regulation, which limits their activities and may affect their ability to earn a profit from a given line of business. Government regulation may change frequently and may have significant adverse consequences for companies in the financials sector, including effects not intended by the regulation. Direct governmental intervention in the operations of financial companies and financial markets may materially and adversely affect the companies in which a Fund invests, including legislation in many countries that may increase government regulation, repatriation and other intervention. The impact of governmental intervention and legislative changes on any individual financial company or on the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. The valuation of financial companies has been and continues to be subject to unprecedented volatility and may be influenced by unpredictable factors, including interest rate risk and sovereign debt default. Certain financial businesses are subject to intense competitive pressures, including market share and price competition. Financial companies in foreign countries are subject to market-specific and general
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regulatory and interest rate concerns. In particular, government regulation in certain foreign countries may include taxes and controls on interest rates, credit availability, minimum capital requirements, bans on short sales, limits on prices and restrictions on currency transfers. In addition, companies in the financials sector may be the targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or customer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses.
The profitability of banks, savings and loan associations and other financial companies is largely dependent on the availability and cost of capital funds and can fluctuate significantly when interest rates change; for instance, when interest rates go up, the value of securities issued by many types of companies in the financials sector generally goes down. In other words, financial companies may be adversely affected in certain market cycles, including, without limitation, during periods of rising interest rates, which may restrict the availability and increase the cost of capital, and during periods of declining economic conditions, which may cause, among other things, credit losses due to financial difficulties of borrowers.
In addition, general economic conditions are important to the operations of these companies, and financial difficulties of borrowers may have an adverse effect on the profitability of financial companies. Companies in the financials sector are exposed directly to the credit risk of their borrowers and counterparties, who may be leveraged to an unknown degree, including through swaps and other derivatives products, and who at times may be unable to meet their obligations to the financial services companies. Financial services companies may have significant exposure to the same borrowers and counterparties, with the result that a borrower’s or counterparty’s inability to meet its obligations to one company may affect other companies with exposure to the same borrower or counterparty. This interconnectedness of risk, including cross-default risk, may result in significant negative impacts to the financial condition and reputation of companies with direct exposure to the defaulting counterparty as well as adverse cascading effects in the markets and the financials sector generally. Financial companies can be highly dependent upon access to capital markets, and any impediments to such access, such as adverse overall economic conditions or a negative perception in the capital markets of a financial company’s financial condition or prospects, could adversely affect its business. Deterioration of credit markets can have an adverse impact on a broad range of financial markets, causing certain financial companies to incur large losses. In these conditions, companies in the financials sector may experience significant declines in the valuation of their assets, take actions to raise capital and even cease operations. Some financial companies may also be required to accept or borrow significant amounts of capital from government sources and may face future government-imposed restrictions on their businesses or increased government intervention. In addition, there is no guarantee that governments will provide any such relief in the future. These actions may cause the securities of many companies in the financials sector to decline in value.
Risk of Investing in the Healthcare Sector. Companies in the healthcare sector are often issuers whose profitability may be affected by extensive government regulation, restrictions on government reimbursement for medical expenses, rising or falling costs of medical products and services, pricing pressure, an increased emphasis on outpatient services, a limited number of products, industry innovation, changes in technologies and other market developments. Many healthcare companies are heavily dependent on patent protection and the actual or perceived safety and efficiency of their products.
Patents have a limited duration, and, upon expiration, other companies may market substantially similar generic products that are typically sold at a lower price than the patented product, which can cause the original developer of the product to lose market share and/or reduce the price charged for the product, resulting in lower profits for the original developer. As a result, the expiration of patents may adversely affect the profitability of these companies.
In addition, because the products and services of many companies in the healthcare sector affect the health and well-being of many individuals, these companies are especially susceptible to extensive litigation based on product liability and similar claims. Healthcare companies are subject to competitive forces that may make it difficult to raise prices and, in fact, may result in price discounting. Many new products in the healthcare sector may be subject to regulatory approvals. The process of obtaining such approvals may be long and costly, which can result in increased development costs, delayed cost recovery and loss of competitive advantage to the extent that rival companies have developed competing products or procedures, adversely affecting the company’s revenues and profitability. In other words, delays in the regulatory approval process may diminish the opportunity for a company to profit from a new product or to bring a new product to market, which could have a material adverse effect on a company’s business. Healthcare companies may also be strongly affected by scientific biotechnology or technological developments, and their products may quickly become obsolete. Also, many healthcare companies offer products and services that are subject to governmental regulation and may be adversely affected by changes in governmental policies or laws. Changes in governmental policies or laws may span a wide range of topics, including cost control, national health insurance, incentives for compensation in the provision of healthcare services, tax incentives and
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penalties related to healthcare insurance premiums, and promotion of prepaid healthcare plans. In addition, a number of legislative proposals concerning healthcare have been considered by the U.S. Congress in recent years. It is unclear what proposals will ultimately be enacted, if any, and what effect they may have on companies in the healthcare sector.
Additionally, the expansion of facilities by healthcare-related providers may be subject to determinations of need by certain government authorities. This process not only generally increases the time and costs involved in these expansions, but also makes expansion plans uncertain, limiting the revenue and profitability growth potential of healthcare-related facilities operators and negatively affecting the prices of their securities. Moreover, in recent years, both local and national governmental budgets have come under pressure to reduce spending and control healthcare costs, which could both adversely affect regulatory processes and public funding available for healthcare products, services and facilities.
Risk of Investing in the Home Construction Industry. The home construction industry may be significantly affected by changes in government spending, zoning laws, economic conditions, interest rates, commodity prices, consumer confidence and spending, taxation, demographic patterns, real estate values, overbuilding, housing starts, and new and existing home sales. Rising interest rates, reductions in mortgage availability to consumers, increasing foreclosure rates or increases in the costs of owning a home could reduce the market for new homes and adversely affect the profitability of home construction companies. Different segments of the home construction industry can be significantly affected by environmental clean-up costs and catastrophic events such as earthquakes, hurricanes and terrorist acts. Home construction companies may lack diversification, due to ownership of a limited number of properties and concentration in a particular geographic region or property type.
Risk of Investing in the Industrials Sector. The value of securities issued by companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by supply of and demand for both their specific products or services and for industrials sector products in general. The products of manufacturing companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction. Government regulations, trade disputes, world events and economic conditions may affect the performance of companies in the industrials sector. The industrials sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors.Aerospace and defense companies, a component of the industrials sector, can be significantly affected by government spending policies because companies involved in this industry rely, to a significant extent, on government demand for their products and services. Thus, the financial condition of, and investor interest in, aerospace and defense companies are heavily influenced by governmental defense spending policies, which are typically under pressure from efforts to control government budgets. Transportation stocks, a component of the industrials sector, are cyclical and can be significantly affected by economic changes, fuel prices, labor relations and insurance costs. Transportation companies in certain countries may also be subject to significant government regulation and oversight, which may adversely affect their businesses. For example, commodity price declines and unit volume reductions resulting from an over-supply of materials used in the industrials sector can adversely affect the sector. Furthermore, companies in the industrials sector may be subject to liability for environmental damage, product liability claims, depletion of resources, and mandated expenditures for safety and pollution control.
Risk of Investing in the Information Technology Sector. Information technology companies face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on profit margins. Like other technology companies, information technology companies may have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or personnel. The products of information technology companies may face product obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction, unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. Technology companies and companies that rely heavily on technology, especially those of smaller, less-seasoned companies, tend to be more volatile than the overall market. Companies in the information technology sector are heavily dependent on patent and intellectual property rights. The loss or impairment of these rights may adversely affect the profitability of these companies. Information technology companies are facing increased government and regulatory scrutiny and may be subject to adverse government or regulatory action. Finally, while all companies may be susceptible to network security breaches, certain companies in the information technology sector may be particular targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or consumer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses. These risks are heightened for information technology companies in foreign markets.
Risk of Investing in the Infrastructure Industry. Companies in the infrastructure industry may be subject to a variety of factors that could adversely affect their business or operations, including high interest costs in connection with capital construction programs, high degrees of leverage, costs associated with governmental, environmental and other regulations, the effects of economic slowdowns, increased competition from other providers of services, uncertainties concerning costs,
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the level of government spending on infrastructure projects, and other factors. Infrastructure companies may be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, changes in exchange rates, import controls, depletion of resources, technological developments, and labor relations. There is also the risk that corruption may negatively affect publicly funded infrastructure projects, especially in emerging markets, resulting in delays and cost overruns. Infrastructure issuers can be significantly affected by government spending policies because companies involved in this industry rely to a significant extent on U.S. and other government demand for their products.
Infrastructure companies in the oil and gas industry may be adversely affected by government regulation or world events in the regions where the companies operate (e.g., expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and repatriation of capital, military coups, social unrest, violence or labor unrest). Infrastructure companies may have significant capital investments in, or engage in transactions involving, emerging market countries, which may heighten these risks.
Operations Risk. The failure of an infrastructure company to carry adequate insurance or to operate its assets appropriately could lead to significant losses. Infrastructure may be adversely affected by environmental clean-up costs and catastrophic events such as earthquakes, hurricanes and terrorist acts.
Customer Risk. Infrastructure companies can be dependent upon a narrow customer base. Additionally, if these customers fail to pay their obligations, significant revenues could be lost and may not be replaceable.
Regulatory Risk. Infrastructure companies may be subject to significant regulation by various governmental authorities and also may be affected by regulation of rates charged to customers, service interruption due to environmental, operational or other events, the imposition of special tariffs and changes in tax laws, regulatory policies and accounting standards.
Strategic Asset Risk. Infrastructure companies may control significant strategic assets (e.g., major pipelines or highways), which are assets that have a national or regional profile, and may have monopolistic characteristics. Given their national or regional profile or irreplaceable nature, strategic assets could generate additional risk not common in other industry sectors and they may be targeted for terrorist acts or adverse political actions.
Interest Rate Risk. Rising interest rates could result in higher costs of capital for infrastructure companies, which could negatively impact their ability to meet payment obligations.
Leverage Risk. Infrastructure companies can be highly leveraged, which increases investments risk and other risks normally associated with debt financing and could adversely affect an infrastructure company's operations and market value in periods of rising interest rates.
Inflation Risk. Many infrastructure companies may have fixed income streams. Consequently, their market values may decline in times of higher inflation. Additionally, the prices that an infrastructure company is able to charge users of its assets may be linked to inflation, whether by government regulation, contractual arrangement or other factors. In this case, changes in the rate of inflation may affect the company's profitability.
Transportation Risk. The stock prices of companies in the transportation industry group are affected by both supply and demand for their specific product. Government regulation, world events and economic conditions may affect the performance of companies in the transportation industry group.
Oil and Gas Risk. The profitability of oil and gas companies is related to worldwide energy prices, exploration, and production spending.
Utilities Risk. Utilities companies face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on their profit margins. The rates charged by regulated utility companies are subject to review and limitation by governmental regulatory commissions.
Risk of Investing in the Insurance Industry. The insurance industry is subject to extensive government regulation in some countries and can be significantly affected by changes in interest rates, general economic conditions, price and marketing competition, the imposition of premium rate caps or other changes in government regulation or tax law. Different segments of the insurance industry can be significantly affected by changes in mortality and morbidity rates, environmental clean-up costs and catastrophic events such as earthquakes, hurricanes and terrorist acts.
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Risk of Investing in the Life Science and Tools Industry. The profitability of companies in the Life Science and Tools Industry may be affected by limited product focus, rapidly changing technology, product development costs, product liability risks, extensive government regulation, intellectual property rights, and intense competition, any of which may have a material adverse effect on securities prices of a company in which the Fund has invested.
Cost containment measures already implemented by the federal government, state governments and the private sector have adversely affected certain sectors of companies related to healthcare. If not repealed, the continued implementation or expansion of the ACA may create increased demand for healthcare products and services but also may have an adverse effect on some companies in the life sciences and tools industry. Increased emphasis on managed care in the United States may put pressure on the price and usage of products sold by life sciences and tools companies in which the Fund may invest and may adversely affect the sales and revenues of these companies. In addition, the restructuring or repeal of the ACA may result in lower utilization of life science and tools products and services. A reduction in the research budget of the National Institutes of Health may also result in reduced annual research outlays and adversely impact the demand for life science and tools products and services.
Risk of Investing in the Materials Sector. Companies in the materials sector may be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, exchange rate fluctuations, social and political unrest, war, import or export controls, increased competition, depletion of resources, technical progress, labor relations and government regulations, and mandated expenditures for safety and pollution control, among other factors. Such risks may adversely affect the issuers to which a Fund has exposure. Companies in the materials sector are also at risk of liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. Production of materials may exceed demand as a result of market imbalances or economic downturns, leading to poor investment returns. These risks are heightened for companies in the materials sector located in foreign markets.
Risk of Investing in the Medical Equipment Industry. Many companies in the medical equipment industry are heavily dependent on patent protection, and the expiration of patents may adversely affect the profitability of these companies. Companies in the medical equipment industry may be subject to extensive litigation based on product liability and similar claims as well as competitive forces that may make it difficult to raise prices and, in fact, may result in price discounting. The profitability of some medical equipment companies may be dependent on a relatively limited number of products. In addition, their products can become obsolete due to industry innovation, changes in technologies or other market developments. Many new products in the medical equipment industry are subject to regulatory approvals, and the process of obtaining such approvals is long and costly.
Risk of Investing in Mortgage Real Estate Investment Trusts. Mortgage REITs lend money to developers and owners of properties and invest primarily in mortgages and similar real estate interests. The mortgage REITs receive interest payments from the owners of the mortgaged properties. Accordingly, mortgage REITs are subject to the credit risk of the borrowers to whom they extend funds. Credit risk is the risk that the borrower will not be able to make timely interest and principal payments on the loan to the REIT. Mortgage REITs also are subject to the risk that the value of mortgaged properties may be less than the amounts owed on the properties. If a mortgage REIT is required to foreclose on a borrower, the amount recovered in connection with the foreclosure may be less than the amount owed to the mortgage REIT.
Mortgage REITs are subject to significant interest rate risk. During periods when interest rates are declining, mortgages are often refinanced or prepaid. Refinancing or prepayment of mortgages may reduce the yield of mortgage REITs. When interest rates decline, the value of a REIT’s investment in fixed rate obligations can be expected to rise. Conversely, when interest rates rise, the value of a REIT’s investment in fixed rate obligations can be expected to decline. In addition, rising interest rates generally increase the costs of obtaining financing, which could cause the value of a mortgage REIT’s investments to decline. A REIT’s investment in adjustable rate obligations may react differently to interest rate changes than an investment in fixed rate obligations. As interest rates on adjustable rate mortgage loans are reset periodically, yields on a REIT’s investment in such loans will gradually align themselves to reflect changes in market interest rates, causing the value of such investments to fluctuate less dramatically in response to interest rate fluctuations than would investments in fixed rate obligations.
Mortgage REITs typically use leverage (and in many cases, may be highly leveraged), which increases investment risk and could adversely affect a REIT’s operations and market value in periods of rising interest rates, increased interest rate volatility, downturns in the economy and reductions in the availability of financing or deterioration in the conditions of the REIT’s mortgage-related assets.
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Risk of Investing in the Natural Resources Industry. The profitability of companies in the natural resources industry can be affected by worldwide energy prices, limits on exploration, and production spending. Companies in the natural resources industry are affected by government regulation, world events and economic conditions. Companies in the natural resources industry are at risk for environmental damage claims. Companies in the natural resources industry could be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, changes in exchange rates, imposition of import controls and increased competition. Companies in the natural resources industry may be adversely affected by depletion of natural resources, technological developments, and labor relations.
Risk of Investing in the Pharmaceuticals Industry. Companies in the pharmaceuticals industry are subject to competitive forces that may make it difficult to raise prices and, in fact, may result in price discounting. The profitability of some companies in the pharmaceuticals industry may be dependent on a relatively limited number of products. In addition, their products can become obsolete due to industry innovation, changes in technologies or other market developments. Many new products in the pharmaceuticals industry are subject to government approvals, regulation and reimbursement rates which may affect companies' profitability. The process of obtaining government approvals may be long and costly. Many companies in the pharmaceuticals industry are heavily dependent on patents and intellectual property rights. The loss or impairment of these rights may adversely affect the profitability of these companies. Companies in the pharmaceutical industry may be subject to extensive litigation based on product liability and similar claims.
Risk of Investing in the Real Estate Industry. Companies in the real estate industry include companies that invest in real estate, such as REITs, real estate holding and operating companies or real estate development companies (collectively, Real Estate Companies). Investing in Real Estate Companies exposes investors to the risks of owning real estate directly, as well as to risks that relate specifically to the way in which Real Estate Companies are organized and operated. The real estate industry is highly sensitive to general and local economic conditions and developments, and characterized by intense competition and periodic overbuilding. Investing in Real Estate Companies involves various risks. Some risks that are specific to Real Estate Companies are discussed in greater detail below.
Concentration Risk. Real Estate Companies may own a limited number of properties and concentrate their investments in a particular geographic region or property type. Economic downturns affecting a particular region, industry or property type may lead to a high volume of defaults within a short period.
Distressed Investment Risk. Real Estate Companies may invest in distressed, defaulted or out-of-favor bank loans. Identification and implementation by a Real Estate Company of loan modification and restructure programs involves a high degree of uncertainty. Even successful implementation may still require adverse compromises and may not prevent bankruptcy. Real Estate Companies may also invest in other debt instruments that may become non-performing, including the securities of companies with higher credit and market risk due to financial or operational difficulties. Higher risk securities may be less liquid and more volatile than the securities of companies not in distress.
Illiquidity Risk. Investing in Real Estate Companies may involve risks similar to those associated with investing in small-capitalization companies. Real Estate Company securities, like the securities of small-capitalization companies, may be more volatile than, and perform differently from, shares of large-capitalization companies. There may be less trading in Real Estate Company shares, which means that buy and sell transactions in those shares could have a magnified impact on share price, resulting in abrupt or erratic price fluctuations. In addition, real estate is relatively illiquid, and, therefore, a Real Estate Company may have a limited ability to vary or liquidate properties in response to changes in economic or other conditions.
Interest Rate Risk. Rising interest rates could result in higher costs of capital for Real Estate Companies, which could negatively impact a Real Estate Company’s ability to meet its payment obligations. Declining interest rates could result in increased prepayment on loans and require redeployment of capital in less desirable investments.
Leverage Risk. Real Estate Companies may use leverage (and some may be highly leveraged), which increases investment risk and could adversely affect a Real Estate Company’s operations and market value in periods of rising interest rates. Real Estate Companies are also exposed to the risks normally associated with debt financing. Financial covenants related to a Real Estate Company’s leverage may affect the ability of the Real Estate Company to operate effectively. In addition, real property may be subject to the quality of credit extended and defaults by borrowers and tenants. If the properties do not generate sufficient income to meet operating expenses, including, where applicable, debt service, ground lease payments, tenant improvements, third-party leasing commissions and other capital expenditures, the income and ability of a Real Estate Company to make payments of any interest and principal on its debt securities will be adversely affected.
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Loan Foreclosure Risk. Real Estate Companies may foreclose on loans that the Real Estate Company originated and/or acquired. Foreclosure may generate negative publicity for the underlying property that affects its market value. In addition to the length and expense of such proceedings, the validity of the terms of the applicable loan may not be recognized in foreclosure proceedings. Claims and defenses asserted by borrowers or other lenders may interfere with the enforcement of rights by a Real Estate Company. Parallel proceedings, such as bankruptcy, may also delay resolution and limit the amount of recovery on a foreclosed loan by a Real Estate Company even where the property underlying the loan is liquidated.
Management Risk. Real Estate Companies are dependent upon management skills and may have limited financial resources. Real Estate Companies are generally not diversified and may be subject to heavy cash flow dependency, default by borrowers and voluntary liquidation. In addition, transactions between Real Estate Companies and their affiliates may be subject to conflicts of interest, which may adversely affect a Real Estate Company’s shareholders. A Real Estate Company may also have joint venture investments in certain of its properties, and, consequently, its ability to control decisions relating to such properties may be limited.
Property Risk. Real Estate Companies may be subject to risks relating to functional obsolescence or reduced desirability of properties; extended vacancies due to economic conditions and tenant bankruptcies; catastrophic events such as earthquakes, hurricanes and terrorist acts; and casualty or condemnation losses. Real estate income and values also may be greatly affected by demographic trends, such as population shifts or changes in consumer preferences and values, or increasing vacancies or declining rents resulting from legal, cultural, technological, global or local economic developments.
Regulatory Risk. Real estate income and values may be adversely affected by such factors as applicable domestic and foreign laws (including tax laws). Government actions, such as tax increases, zoning law changes, mandated closures or other commercial restrictions or environmental regulations, also may have a major impact on real estate income and values. In addition, quarterly compliance with regulations limiting the proportion of asset types held by a U.S. REIT may force certain Real Estate Companies to liquidate or restructure otherwise attractive investments. Some countries may not recognize REITs or comparable structures as a viable form of real estate funds.
Underlying Investment Risk. Real Estate Companies make investments in a variety of debt and equity instruments with varying risk profiles. For instance, Real Estate Companies may invest in debt instruments secured by commercial property that have higher risks of delinquency and foreclosure than loans on single family homes due to a variety of factors associated with commercial property, including the tie between income available to service debt and productive use of the property. Real Estate Companies may also invest in debt instruments and preferred equity that are junior in an issuer’s capital structure and that involve privately negotiated structures. Subordinated debt investments, such as B-Notes and mezzanine loans, involve a greater credit risk of default due to the need to service more senior debt of the issuer. Similarly, preferred equity investments involve a greater risk of loss than conventional debt financing due to their non-collateralized nature and subordinated ranking. Investments in commercial mortgage-backed securities may also be junior in priority in the event of bankruptcy or similar proceedings. Investments in senior loans may be effectively subordinated if the senior loan is pledged as collateral. The ability of a holder of junior claims to proceed against a defaulting issuer is circumscribed by the terms of the particular contractual arrangement, which vary considerably from transaction to transaction.
U.S. Tax Risk. Certain U.S. Real Estate Companies are subject to special U.S. federal tax requirements. A REIT that fails to comply with such tax requirements may be subject to U.S. federal income taxation, which may affect the value of the REIT and the characterization of the REIT’s distributions. The U.S. federal tax requirement that a REIT distribute substantially all of its net income to its shareholders may result in a REIT having insufficient capital for future expenditures. A REIT that successfully maintains its qualification may still become subject to U.S. federal, state and local taxes, including excise, penalty, franchise, payroll, mortgage recording, and transfer taxes, both directly and indirectly through its subsidiaries. Because REITs often do not provide complete tax information until after the calendar year-end, a Fund may at times need to request permission to extend the deadline for issuing your tax reporting statement or supplement the information otherwise provided to you.
Risk of Investing in the Residential and Residential-Related REIT Sub-Industry. The Residential and Residential-Related REIT Sub-Industry consists of REITs with exposure to residential real estate and certain types of commercial real estate that complements residential real estate, including properties operated by healthcare providers and self-storage companies. In addition to the risks related to REITs generally, investments in these REITs are subject to additional subsector-specific risks. Residential real estate may be affected by unique supply and demand factors that do not apply to other REIT sub-sectors. In addition, certain investors may already have exposure to residential real estate through ownership of a primary residence or
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direct ownership of rental property. The value of healthcare-focused REITs may be affected by changes in federal or state regulation of healthcare providers and reimbursement rates to healthcare providers under Medicare, Medicaid and other public or private health insurance plans. Unlike less specialized commercial real estate, when tenants vacate healthcare-related properties, the ability of property management to find replacement tenants may be impaired by the properties’ specialized healthcare uses. Investments in self-storage REITs are subject to changes in demand levels for self-storage. In addition, self-storage operators may be liable for unplanned environmental and hazardous waste compliance costs associated with operating self-storage locations.
Risk of Investing in the Semiconductor Industry. Semiconductor companies face intense competition, both domestically and internationally; such competition may have an adverse effect on profit margins. Semiconductor companies may have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or personnel. The products of semiconductor companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction, unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. Capital equipment expenditures could be substantial and equipment generally suffers from rapid obsolescence. Companies in the semiconductor industry are heavily dependent on patent and intellectual property rights. The loss or impairment of these rights would adversely affect the profitability of these companies.
Risk of Investing in the Technology Sector. Technology companies are characterized by periodic new product introductions, innovations and evolving industry standards, and, as a result, face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on profit margins. Companies in the technology sector are often smaller and less experienced companies and may be subject to greater risks than larger companies; these risks may be heightened for technology companies in foreign markets. Technology companies may have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or personnel. The products of technology companies may face product obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction, changes in consumer and business purchasing patterns, unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. In addition, a rising interest rate environment tends to negatively affect companies in the technology sector because, in such an environment, those companies with high market valuations may appear less attractive to investors, which may cause sharp decreases in the companies’ market prices. Companies in the technology sector are heavily dependent on patent and intellectual property rights. The loss or impairment of these rights may adversely affect the profitability of these companies. Companies in the technology sector are facing increased government and regulatory scrutiny and may be subject to adverse government or regulatory action. The technology sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced or characterized by unpredictable factors. Finally, while all companies may be susceptible to network security breaches, certain companies in the technology sector may be particular targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or consumer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses.
Risk of Investing in the Telecommunications Sector. The telecommunications sector of a country’s economy is often subject to extensive government regulation. The costs of complying with governmental regulations, delays or failure to receive required regulatory approvals, or the enactment of new regulatory requirements may negatively affect the business of telecommunications companies. Government actions around the world, specifically in the area of pre-marketing clearance of products and prices, can be arbitrary and unpredictable. Companies in the telecommunications sector may experience distressed cash flows due to the need to commit substantial capital to meet increasing competition, particularly in developing new products and services using new technology. Technological innovations may make the products and services of certain telecommunications companies obsolete. Finally, while all companies may be susceptible to network security breaches, certain companies in the telecommunications sector may be particular targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or consumer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses.
Risk of Investing in the Utilities Sector. The utilities sector may be adversely affected by changing commodity prices, government regulation stipulating rates charged by utilities, increased tariffs, changes in tax laws, interest rate fluctuations and changes in the cost of providing specific utility services. The utilities industry is also subject to potential terrorist attacks, natural disasters and severe weather conditions, as well as regulatory and operational burdens associated with the operation and maintenance of nuclear facilities. Government regulators monitor and control utility revenues and costs, and therefore may limit utility profits. In certain countries, regulatory authorities may also restrict a company’s access to new markets, thereby diminishing the company’s long-term prospects.
There are substantial differences among the regulatory practices and policies of various jurisdictions, and any regulatory agency may make major shifts in policy from time to time. There is no assurance that regulatory authorities will, in the future,
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grant rate increases. Additionally, existing and possible future regulatory legislation may make it even more difficult for utilities to obtain adequate relief. Certain of the issuers of securities held in a Fund's portfolio may own or operate nuclear generating facilities. Governmental authorities may from time to time review existing policies and impose additional requirements governing the licensing, construction and operation of nuclear power plants. Prolonged changes in climate conditions can also have a significant impact on both the revenues of an electric and gas utility as well as the expenses of a utility, particularly a hydro-based electric utility.
The rates that traditional regulated utility companies may charge their customers generally are subject to review and limitation by governmental regulatory commissions. Rate changes may occur only after a prolonged approval period or may not occur at all, which could adversely affect utility companies when costs are rising. The value of regulated utility debt securities (and, to a lesser extent, equity securities) tends to have an inverse relationship to the movement of interest rates. Certain utility companies have experienced full or partial deregulation in recent years. These utility companies are frequently more similar to industrial companies in that they are subject to greater competition and have been permitted by regulators to diversify outside of their original geographic regions and their traditional lines of business. As a result, some companies may be forced to defend their core business and may be less profitable. Deregulation may also permit a utility company to expand outside of its traditional lines of business and engage in riskier ventures.
Proxy Voting Policy
For the Funds, the Board has delegated the voting of proxies for each Fund’s securities to BFA pursuant to the Funds' Proxy Voting Policy, and BFA has adopted policies and procedures (collectively, the iShares ETFs Proxy Voting Policies) governing proxy voting by accounts managed by BFA, including the Funds.
Under the iShares ETFs Proxy Voting Policies, BFA will vote proxies related to Fund securities in the best interests of a Fund and its shareholders. From time to time, a vote may present a conflict between the interests of a Fund’s shareholders, on the one hand, and those of BFA, or any affiliated person of a Fund or BFA, on the other. BFA maintains policies and procedures that are designed to prevent undue influence on BFA’s proxy voting activity that might stem from any relationship between the issuer of a proxy (or any dissident shareholder) and BFA, BFA’s affiliates, a Fund or a Fund’s affiliates. Most conflicts are managed through a structural separation of BFA’s Corporate Governance Group from BFA’s employees with sales and client responsibilities. In addition, BFA maintains procedures to ensure that all engagements with corporate issuers or dissident shareholders are managed consistently and without regard to BFA’s relationship with the issuer of the proxy or the dissident shareholder. In certain instances, BFA may determine to engage an independent fiduciary to vote proxies as a further safeguard to avoid potential conflicts of interest or as otherwise required by applicable law.
Copies of the iShares ETFs Proxy Voting Policies are attached as Appendix A.
Information with respect to how proxies relating to the Funds' portfolio securities were voted during the 12-month period ended June 30 is available: (i) without charge, upon request, by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or through the Funds' website at www.iShares.com; and (ii) on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.
Portfolio Holdings Information
On each Business Day (as defined in the Creation and Redemption of Creation Units section of this SAI), prior to the opening of regular trading on the Fund’s primary listing exchange, a Fund discloses on its website (www.iShares.com) certain information relating to the portfolio holdings that will form the basis of a Fund’s next net asset value per share calculation.
In addition, certain information may also be made available to certain parties:
Communications of Data Files: A Fund may make available through the facilities of the National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC) or through posting on the www.iShares.com, prior to the opening of trading on each business day, a list of a Fund’s holdings (generally pro-rata) that Authorized Participants could deliver to a Fund to settle purchases of a Fund (i.e. Deposit Securities) or that Authorized Participants would receive from a Fund to settle redemptions of a Fund (i.e. Fund Securities). These files are known as the Portfolio Composition File and the Fund Data File (collectively, Files). The Files are applicable for the next trading day and are provided to the NSCC and/or posted on www.iShares.com after the close of markets in the U.S.
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Communications with Authorized Participants and Liquidity Providers: Certain employees of BFA are responsible for interacting with Authorized Participants and liquidity providers with respect to discussing custom basket proposals as described in the Custom Baskets section of this SAI. As part of these discussions, these employees may discuss with an Authorized Participant or liquidity provider the securities a Fund is willing to accept for a creation, and securities that a Fund will provide on a redemption.
BFA employees may also discuss portfolio holdings-related information with broker/dealers, in connection with settling a Fund’s transactions, as may be necessary to conduct business in the ordinary course in a manner consistent with the disclosure in the Fund's current registration statements.
Communications with Listing Exchanges: From time to time, employees of BFA may discuss portfolio holdings information with the applicable primary listing exchange for a Fund as needed to meet the exchange listing standards.
Communications with Other Portfolio Managers: Certain information may be provided to employees of BFA who manage funds that invest a significant percentage of their assets in shares of an underlying fund as necessary to manage the fund’s investment objective and strategy.
Communication of Other Information: Certain explanatory information regarding the Files is released to Authorized Participants and liquidity providers on a daily basis, but is only done so after the Files are posted to www.iShares.com.
Third-Party Service Providers: Certain portfolio holdings information may be disclosed to Fund Trustees and their counsel, outside counsel for the Funds, auditors and to certain third-party service providers (i.e., fund administrator, custodian, proxy voting service) for which a non-disclosure, confidentiality agreement or other obligation is in place with such service providers, as may be necessary to conduct business in the ordinary course in a manner consistent with applicable policies, agreements with the Funds, the terms of the current registration statements and federal securities laws and regulations thereunder.
Liquidity Metrics: Liquidity Metrics, which seek to ascertain a Fund’s liquidity profile under BlackRock’s global liquidity risk methodology, include but are not limited to: (a) disclosure regarding the number of days needed to liquidate a portfolio or the portfolio’s underlying investments; and (b) the percentage of a Fund’s NAV invested in a particular liquidity tier under BlackRock’s global liquidity risk methodology. The dissemination of position-level liquidity metrics data and any non-public regulatory data pursuant to the Liquidity Rule (including SEC liquidity tiering) is not permitted unless pre-approved. Disclosure of portfolio-level liquidity metrics prior to 60 calendar days after calendar quarter-end requires a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement and approval of the Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer. Portfolio-level liquidity metrics disclosure subsequent to 60 calendar days after calendar quarter-end requires the approval of portfolio management and must be disclosed to all parties requesting the information if disclosed to any party.
The Trust’s Chief Compliance Officer or his delegate may authorize disclosure of portfolio holdings information pursuant to the above policy and procedures, subject to restrictions on selective disclosure imposed by applicable law. The Board reviews the policy and procedures for disclosure of portfolio holdings information at least annually.
Construction and Maintenance of the Underlying Indexes
Descriptions of the Underlying Indexes are provided below.
With respect to certain underlying indexes of the iShares funds, BFA or its affiliates have held discussions with the applicable index provider regarding their business interest in licensing an index to track a particular market segment and conveyed investment concepts and strategies that could be considered for the index. The index provider designed and constituted such indices using concepts conveyed by BFA or its affiliates. For certain of these indices, the relevant fund may be the first or sole user of the underlying index. In its sole discretion, the index provider determines the composition of the securities and other instruments in such underlying index, the rebalance protocols of the underlying index, the weightings of the securities and other instruments in the underlying index, and any updates to the methodology. From time to time, BFA or its affiliates may also provide input relating to possible methodology changes of such underlying index pursuant to the index provider’s consultation process or pursuant to other communications with the index provider.
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The Dow Jones Indexes
Issue Changes. Each Underlying Index is reviewed and rebalanced quarterly to maintain accurate representation of the market segment represented by the Underlying Index. Securities that are removed from an Index between reconstitution dates are not replaced.
Index Maintenance. Maintaining the Underlying Indexes includes monitoring and completing the adjustments for additions and deletions to each Underlying Index, share changes, stock splits, stock dividends, and stock price adjustments due to restructuring and spin-offs.
Weighting. The component stocks are weighted according to the float-adjusted market capitalization. The impact of a component’s price change is proportional to the issue’s total market value, which is the share price multiplied by the number of shares outstanding. Each Underlying Index is adjusted to reflect changes in capitalization resulting from mergers, acquisitions, stock rights, substitutions and other capital events. Each of the Underlying Indexes (subject to any applicable capping as described below) is a free-float adjusted market capitalization-weighted index, so the impact of a component’s price change is proportional to the component’s free-float adjusted market value, which is the share price multiplied by the number of float-adjusted shares outstanding. S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC (SPDJI) defines the free-float of a security as the proportion of shares outstanding that are deemed to be available for purchase in the public equity markets by investors. In practice, limitations on free-float available to investors include: cross ownership (shares that are owned by other companies), ownership by governments (central or municipal) or their agencies, certain substantial levels of private ownership (by individuals, families or charitable trusts and foundations), and restricted shares. Under SPDJI's free-float adjustment methodology, a company’s outstanding shares are adjusted if, and only if, an entity in any of the four qualified categories listed above owns 5% or more of the company. The company’s shares will not be adjusted if the block ownership is less than 5%. A constituent’s inclusion factor is equal to its estimated percentage of free-float shares outstanding. For example, a constituent security with a free-float of 67% will be included in the index at 67% of its market capitalization. However, a company’s outstanding shares are not adjusted by institutional investors’ holdings, which include, but are not limited to, the following categories: custodian nominees, trustee companies, mutual funds (open-end and closed-end funds), and other investment companies.
Index Availability. The Underlying Indexes are calculated continuously and are available from major data vendors.
Component Selection Criteria. The following indexes are collectively referred to herein as the Dow Jones U.S. Select Sectors Specialty Indexes: Dow Jones U.S. Select Aerospace & Defense Index, Dow Jones U.S. Select Health Care Providers Index, Dow Jones U.S. Select Home Construction Index, Dow Jones U.S. Select Insurance Index, Dow Jones U.S. Select Investment Services Index, Dow Jones U.S. Select Medical Equipment Index, Dow Jones U.S. Select Oil Equipment & Services Index, Dow Jones U.S. Select Oil Exploration & Production Index, Dow Jones U.S. Select Pharmaceuticals Index and Dow Jones U.S. Select Regional Banks Index. The Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Capped Index is part of the Dow Jones Global Indices family. On a quarterly basis, SPDJI conducts reviews of the float-adjusted market capitalizations and weightings of the securities in the Underlying Indexes.
Securities of companies listed on a major U.S. exchange (such as the New York Stock Exchange, Inc. (NYSE), the NYSE MKT Equities or the Nasdaq) are considered for inclusion in the Underlying Indexes, with the following general rules and exceptions. Foreign issues, including ADRs and GDRs, non-common equity issues such as preferred stocks, convertible notes, warrants, rights, closed-end funds, trust receipts, limited liabilities companies, royalty trusts, units, limited partnerships, OTC bulletin boards and pink sheet stocks generally are not eligible for inclusion in the indexes.
Other than the Dow Jones U.S. Select Home Construction Index and the Dow Jones U.S. Select Regional Banks Index on the last business day of the month prior to the quarterly review, a security must have a $500 million float-adjusted market capitalization to be added to a Dow Jones U.S. Select Sector Specialty Index or the Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Capped Index; securities with a float-adjusted market capitalization below $250 million will be removed from the applicable Underlying Index.
On the last business day of the month prior to the quarterly review, a security must have a $500 million float-adjusted market capitalization to be added to the Dow Jones U.S. Select Home Construction Index; securities with a float-adjusted market capitalization below $100 million will be removed from the Dow Jones U.S. Select Home Construction Index.
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The Underlying Indexes are rebalanced quarterly, effective at the open of trading on the Monday following the third Friday of March, June, September and December. Component eligibility is determined as of the last trading day of the month prior to rebalancing.
With respect to the Dow Jones U.S. Select Specialty Sector Indexes, at each quarterly rebalance,
no single Underlying Index component may have a weight greater than 22.5% of the Index; and
the sum of the weights of the Index components that are individually greater than 4.5% may not be greater than 45% of the Index.
Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Capped Index
Number of Components: approximately 78
Index Description. The Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Capped Index is a subset of the Dow Jones U.S. Index. The Underlying Index includes only companies in the real estate sector of the Dow Jones U.S. Index.
The Underlying Index uses a capping methodology to limit the weight of the securities of any single issuer to a maximum of 10% of the Underlying Index. Additionally, the Underlying Index constrains at each quarterly review: (i) the weight of any single issuer to a maximum of 10%, and (ii) the aggregate weight of all issuers that individually exceed 4.50% of the index weight to a maximum of 22.50%. Between scheduled quarterly index reviews, the Underlying Index is rebalanced at the end of any day on which all issuers that individually constitute more than 5% of the weight of the Underlying Index constitute more than 25% of the weight of the Underlying Index in the aggregate. In implementing this capping methodology, SPDJI may consider two or more companies as belonging to the same issuer where there is reasonable evidence of common control.
Dow Jones U.S. Select Aerospace & Defense Index
Number of Components: approximately 36
Index Description. The Dow Jones U.S. Select Aerospace & Defense Index is designed to measure the performance of U.S. companies in the aerospace and defense sector.
Dow Jones U.S. Select Health Care Providers Index
Number of Components: approximately 65
Index Description. The Dow Jones U.S. Select Health Care Providers Index is designed to measure performance of U.S. companies in the health care sector.
Dow Jones U.S. Select Home Construction Index
Number of Components: approximately 48
Index Description. The Dow Jones U.S. Select Home Construction Index measures the performance of constructors of residential homes, including manufacturers of mobile and prefabricated homes intended for use in one place; manufacturers and distributors of furniture, including chairs, tables, desks, carpeting, and wallpaper; retailers and wholesalers concentrating on the sale of home improvement products, including garden equipment, carpets, wallpaper, paint, home furniture, blinds and curtains, and building materials; producers of materials used in the construction and refurbishment of buildings and structures, including cement and other aggregates, wooden beams and frames, paint, glass, roofing and flooring materials other than carpets. Companies classified as Building Materials & Fixtures, Furnishings, and Home Improvement Retailers are, in aggregate, capped at 35% of the index.
Dow Jones U.S. Select Insurance Index
Number of Components: approximately 56
Index Description. The Dow Jones U.S. Select Insurance Index is designed to measure full-line insurance companies, property and casualty insurance companies and life insurance companies.
Dow Jones U.S. Select Investment Services Index
Number of Components: approximately 25
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Index Description. The Dow Jones U.S. Select Investment Services Index is designed to measure the performance of U.S. companies in the investment services sector.
Dow Jones U.S. Select Medical Equipment Index
Number of Components: approximately 65
Index Description. The Dow Jones U.S. Select Medical Equipment Index is designed to measure manufacturers and distributors of medical devices such as MRI scanners, prosthetics, pacemakers, X-ray machines and other non-disposable medical devices.
Dow Jones U.S. Select Oil Equipment & Services Index
Number of Components: approximately 29
Index Description. The constituents in the Dow Jones U.S. Select Oil Equipment & Services Index are classified as oil equipment and services companies within the Dow Jones U.S. Broad Stock Market Index.
Dow Jones U.S. Select Oil Exploration & Production Index
Number of Components: approximately 48
Index Description. The Dow Jones U.S. Select Oil Exploration & Production Index is designed to measure companies engaged in the exploration for drilling, production, refining and supply of oil and gas products.
Dow Jones U.S. Select Pharmaceuticals Index
Number of Components: approximately 42
Index Description. The constituents in the Dow Jones U.S. Select Pharmaceuticals Index are classified as pharmaceutical companies within the Dow Jones U.S. Broad Stock Market Index.
Dow Jones U.S. Select Regional Banks Index
Number of Components: approximately 35
Index Description. The constituents in the Dow Jones U.S. Select Regional Banks Index are banks that provide a broad range of financial services and that individually account for less than 5% of banking industry assets.
Component Selection Criteria. The index composition is reconstituted annually as part of the June rebalancing. However, if a constituent is deleted from the Dow Jones U.S. Banks Index (i.e. the index selection universe) during a quarterly rebalancing, it is also deleted from the Dow Jones U.S. Select Regional Banks Index at that quarter’s rebalancing. A company is excluded from the Dow Jones U.S. Select Regional Banks Index if its three-year average total assets account for more than 5% of the three-year average total assets of the index selection universe. Any company that failed this asset screen during the previous annual reconstitution and that accounts for at least 4% of the selection universe’s three-year average total assets at the next review will continue to be excluded from the index.
The FTSE Nareit Indexes
Component Selection Criteria. The FTSE Nareit U.S. Real Estate Indexes (FTSE Nareit Indexes) are primarily rule-based, but are also monitored by the FTSE Nareit Index Advisory Committee. All tax-qualified REITs that are listed on the NYSE, the NYSE Amex Equities or the Nasdaq are eligible for inclusion in the FTSE Nareit Indexes. Potential constituents for the FTSE Nareit All Mortgage Capped Index and the FTSE Nareit All Residential Capped Index are determined by sector classifications of constituents in the FTSE Nareit Composite Index. The FTSE Nareit Indexes are reviewed for changes in free-float on a quarterly basis in March, June, September and December for companies which do not qualify for fast entry, but which meet the criteria for eligible securities set out in the index rules. Meetings to review the constituents will be held on the Thursday following the first Friday of March, June, September and December. The review is based on data at the close of business on the last trading day of February, May, August and November. The FTSE Nareit Index Advisory Committee meets quarterly, in March, June, September and December or more frequently, if required.
When calculating index component weights, component companies’ shares are adjusted for available free-float. In general, shares held by governments, corporations, strategic partners, or other control groups are excluded from a constituent company’s outstanding shares.
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Index Maintenance. FTSE International Limited (FTSE) is responsible for the daily operation of the FTSE Nareit Indexes. FTSE will maintain records of the market capitalization of all constituents, and will make changes to the constituents and their weightings in accordance with index rules. FTSE will also carry out the periodic company reviews of the FTSE Nareit Indexes and implement the resulting constituent changes as required by index rules.
Issue Changes. New issues of companies that do not qualify for Fast Entry but meet the criteria for eligible securities and have been listed for over 20 business trading days will be eligible for inclusion in the FTSE Nareit Indexes. The data will be compiled as of the close of business on the last business day in February, May, August and November. The changes will be effective after the close of business on the third Friday in March, June, September and December.
If a constituent is delisted, or ceases to have a firm quotation, or is subject to a takeover offer which has been declared wholly unconditional, it will be removed from the indexes of which it is a constituent.
Index Availability. The FTSE Nareit Indexes are calculated continuously during normal trading hours of the Nasdaq, NYSE Amex Equities and NYSE, and are closed on U.S. holidays.
Exchange Rates and Pricing. The prices used to calculate the FTSE Nareit Indexes are the Reuters daily closing prices or those figures accepted as such. FTSE Nareit reserves the right to use an alternative pricing source on any given day. For end-of-day alternative currency calculations, FTSE Nareit uses the WM/Reuters Closing Spot Rates.
FTSE Developed ex US ex Korea Small Cap Focused Value Index
Number of Components: approximately 484
Index Description. The FTSE Developed ex US ex Korea Small Cap Focused Value Index measures the performance of international developed small-capitalization companies, excluding the U.S. and Korea, with prominent value factor characteristics, as determined by FTSE International Limited. The Underlying Index is a subset of the FTSE Developed ex US ex Korea Small Cap Index (the Parent Index), which measures the performance of the small-capitalization segment of the international developed equity market, excluding the U.S. and Korea, as defined by FTSE International Limited.
Eligibility. The eligible universe of securities for the Underlying Index includes all issuers within the Parent Index, subject to the following rules and exceptions:
● If a company has issued multiple lines of equity capital, only one eligible line is included. The eligible line is the line with the highest 60 days average daily dollar trading volume (ADDTV). A minimum of 30 days of daily observations are required to calculate ADDTV. If a line has missing ADDTV, the line is excluded. If all lines have no ADDTV, the line with the highest free float market cap is selected.
● Securities ranked within the least liquid 20% by count based on 60-day ADDTV are excluded.
● Securities ranked within the top 20% highest risk or with missing data are excluded. Risk is defined as the 1-year trailing realized volatility of daily total returns. A minimum of 200 days of daily return observations are required to calculate volatility.
● Securities ranked within the top 20% highest leverage or with missing data are excluded. Leverage is defined as total debt to total assets sourced from a third party data provider.
● Also excluded are preferred and convertible preferred stock, participating preferred stock, redeemable shares, warrants and rights, trust receipts, royalty trusts, limited liability issuers, OTC bulletin boards and pink sheet stocks, mutual funds, and limited partnerships.
A sentiment score is calculated using estimates for earnings per share sourced from third party data providers. The sentiment score is calculated as follows:
(Number of upgrades for earnings per share for current and next fiscal year - Number of downgrades for earnings per share for current and next fiscal year)/ Total number of estimates for earnings per share for current and next fiscal year.
Negative price momentum is determined based on monthly price returns over the trailing 12 months, excluding the latest month. Securities with both a negative sentiment score and negative price momentum are excluded.
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Eligible securities are ranked by a weighted composite score of three value metrics (price-to-book (10%), price-to-earnings (30%) and price-to-cash flow from operations (60%)) (the Composite Score). The top ranked stocks are selected until the number of securities is 25% of the Parent Index by count to form the Target Index (the Target Index), which is re-evaluated each month. Each security included in the Target Index is weighted in proportion to their float adjusted market capitalization with a country cap that is +/- 10% relative to the Parent Index.
Index Maintenance and Issue Changes. The Underlying Index will be reviewed monthly, with changes arising from review being announced after the close of business on the fifth business day preceding the implementation after the close of business on the third Friday of the month. The Underlying Index is rebalanced to the Target Index if any of the following conditions are met:
● The Underlying Index’s Composite Score is less than 90% of the Target Index’s Composite Score.
● The number of securities in the Underlying Index is fewer than 20% of the Parent Index securities by count.
If no rebalance is triggered, the index weights and constituents remain unchanged.
A constituent will be removed from the Underlying Index if it is also removed from the Parent Index. The deletion will be concurrent with the deletion from the Parent Index and its weight will be distributed pro-rata amongst the remaining constituents. Thus, the number of securities in the Underlying Index over the year will fluctuate according to corporate activity.
Additions to the Parent Index will be considered for inclusion in the Underlying Index at the next review.
FTSE Nareit All Mortgage Capped Index
Number of Components: approximately 33
Index Description. The FTSE Nareit All Mortgage Capped Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization weighted index that measures the performance of the residential and commercial mortgage real estate, mortgage finance and savings associations sectors of the U.S. equity market. The FTSE Nareit All Mortgage Capped Index generally measures the performance of the residential and commercial mortgage real estate sector and generally invests all of its assets in REITs. If the number of constituents in the FTSE Nareit All Mortgage Capped Index would otherwise fall below 20, FTSE will consider companies from the mortgage finance and savings associations sectors for inclusion in the FTSE Nareit All Mortgage Capped Index and each company in the mortgage finance and savings associations sector will be capped at 3%, and in aggregate not exceed 30%. FTSE caps the weight of the constituent securities in the Underlying Index.
FTSE Nareit All Residential Capped Index
Number of Components: approximately 39
Index Description. The FTSE Nareit All Residential Capped Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization weighted index that measures the performance of the residential, healthcare and self-storage real estate sectors of the U.S. equity market. FTSE caps the weight of the constituent securities in the Underlying Index.
The ICE® Securities Indexes
ICE Biotechnology Index
Number of Components: approximately 267
Index Description. The ICE Biotechnology Index is a rules-based, modified float-adjusted market capitalization-weighted index that tracks the performance of qualifying U.S.-listed biotechnology companies.
Eligibility. Underlying Index eligibility includes common stocks, ordinary shares, ADRs, and shares of beneficial interest or limited partnership interests that are listed on one of the following U.S exchanges: New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), NYSE American, Cboe BZX, NASDAQ Global Select Market, NASDAQ Global Market. Companies must be classified within the Biotechnology Sub-Industry Group of the ICE Uniform Sector Classification schema and meet certain minimum market capitalization, liquidity, and other criteria to be eligible for inclusion in the Underlying Index.
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Weighting. The Underlying Index is float-adjusted market capitalization-weighted subject to certain exposure limits. First, all constituents are capped at 8% with any excess weight redistributed on a pro-rata basis to constituents below that cap, provided none can be increased above 8%. Next, the weights of constituents outside the initial five largest are capped at 4% with any excess weight redistributed on a pro-rata basis to (i) any of the five largest constituents that are below 8% (provided they cannot be increased above 8%), and (ii) any other constituents that are below 4% (provided none are increased above 4%). Finally, the cumulative weight of all ADRs is capped at 10% with the reductions applied proportionately across that group. Excess weight is redistributed on a pro-rata basis to (i) any non-ADR constituents among the resulting five largest constituents that are below 8% (provided they cannot be increased above 8%) and (ii) any other non-ADR constituents that are below 4% (provided they cannot be increased above 4%).
Issue Changes. The Underlying Index undergoes a full reconstitution of constituent holdings annually in December. At the annual reconstitution, qualifying constituents are re-selected based on the eligibility criteria, and float-adjusted market capitalization weights are determined subject to the weighting exposure limits. The reference date for the input data used to determine security qualification is the close of the last trading day of October, and reference data for the input data used to determine weights is the close of the last trading day of November. The announcement date is the close of the first Friday of December.
Quarterly Index Rebalancing. In addition to the annual reconstitution, the Underlying Index is rebalanced after the close of the third Friday of March, June, and September. At the quarterly rebalances, no constituents are added to or removed from the Underlying Index; however, constituent weights are recalculated based on updated float-adjusted market capitalizations subject to the weighting exposure limits. The reference date for all input data used in the quarterly rebalances is the close of the last trading day of the month preceding the month of effectiveness (February, May, August) and the announcement date is the close of the first Friday of the rebalance month.
Index Maintenance. The Underlying Index is adjusted for corporate actions that affect constituents and implements any intra-quarter float-adjusted shares outstanding updates greater than 10% in scheduled monthly share updates that take effect after the close of the last trading day of each month. Securities are removed from the Underlying Index only when both the transaction and delisting is either confirmed or deemed imminent. If a security is suspended prior to its removal from the Underlying Index, then the security is deleted at the close of the next trading day at either the last traded price (cash only terms) or the value of the deal terms (share or cash/share terms), if available. There are no intra-quarter replacements of constituents in the Underlying Index. The Underlying Index implements a zero-price spin-off policy. A spin-co is added into the Underlying Index effective for the spin-off ex-date with a $0 price and no price adjustment is made on the parent company. After the close of the first day of trading for the spin-co, it is deleted from the Underlying Index at its last traded price.
ICE Exchange-Listed Preferred & Hybrid Securities Index
Number of Components: approximately ___
Index Description. The ICE Exchange-Listed Preferred & Hybrid Securities Index tracks the performance of a select group of exchange-listed, U.S. dollar-denominated preferred securities, hybrid securities and convertible preferred securities.
Index Methodology. Qualifying securities must be exchange listed and have either the NASDAQ or NYSE as their primary exchange in order to be included in the Underlying Index. The Underlying Index constituents must also meet minimum maturity and other applicable requirements, as determined by ICE Data Indices, LLC. The total allocation to an individual issuer across the entire index is limited to 4.75%. The Underlying Index is market capitalization-weighted subject to certain constraints, and the securities in the Underlying Index are updated on the last calendar date of each month.
Component Selection Criteria. Hybrid corporate debt issued in $1,000 or greater par amounts must have a coupon deferral feature, at least $250 million face amount outstanding and at least 18 months to final maturity at the time of issuance to qualify. Fixed-to-floating rate securities are included provided they are callable within the fixed rate period and are at least one month from the last call prior to the date the bond transitions from a fixed to a floating rate security. Contingent capital securities (cocos) are excluded, but capital securities where conversion can be mandated by a regulatory authority, but which have no specified trigger, are included. Other hybrid capital securities, such as those issues that potentially convert into preference shares, those with both cumulative and noncumulative coupon deferral provisions, and those with alternative coupon satisfaction mechanisms, are also included in the index. 144A securities (both with and without registration rights)
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and corporate pay-in-kind securities (including toggle notes) are included. Securities in legal default, securitized debt and Eurodollar bonds (USD securities not issued in the U.S. domestic market) are excluded.
Preferred stock and notes issued in $25, $50, or $100 par/liquidation preference increments, must have a minimum amount outstanding of $100 million. In addition, qualifying securities must have an investment grade rated country of risk (based on an average of Moody’s, S&P and Fitch foreign currency long-term sovereign debt ratings). Both fixed and adjustable rate preferred stock and notes are included in the index. Preference shares (perpetual preferred securities), American Depository Shares/Receipts (ADS/R), domestic and Yankee trust preferreds, are included. Auction market securities, purchase units, purchase contracts, securities issued by closed end funds and derivative instruments such as repackaged securities and credit default swaps are excluded.
Convertible preferred stock must have at least $50 million face amount outstanding. The underlying equity of qualifying securities must be publicly listed and actively trading. Convertible securities where the underlying is a basket of equities, and mandatory convertibles are included in the index. Securities in legal default, synthetic and reverse convertibles, pay-in-kind convertibles, and convertibles with suspended or inactive underlying equities are excluded from the index.
ICE Semiconductor Index
Number of Components: approximately 30
Index Description. The ICE Semiconductor Index is a rules-based, modified float-adjusted market capitalization-weighted index that tracks the performance of the thirty largest U.S.-listed semiconductor companies.
Eligibility. Underlying Index eligibility includes common stocks, ordinary shares, ADRs, and shares of beneficial interest or limited partnership interests that are listed on one of the following U.S exchanges: New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), NYSE American, Cboe BZX, NASDAQ Global Select Market, NASDAQ Global Market, NASDAQ Capital Market. Companies must be classified within the Semiconductors Industry of the ICE Uniform Sector Classification schema and meet certain minimum market capitalization, liquidity, and other criteria to be eligible for inclusion in the Underlying Index.
Weighting. The Underlying Index is float-adjusted market capitalization-weighted subject to certain exposure limits. First, all constituents are capped at 8% with any excess weight redistributed on a pro-rata basis to constituents below that cap, provided none can be increased above 8%. Next, the weights of constituents outside the initial five largest are capped at 4% with any excess weight redistributed on a pro-rata basis to (i) any of the five largest constituents that are below 8% (provided they cannot be increased above 8%), and (ii) any other constituents that are below 4% (provided none are increased above 4%). Finally, the cumulative weight of all ADRs is capped at 10% with the reductions applied proportionately across that group. Excess weight is redistributed on a pro-rata basis to (i) any non-ADR constituents among the resulting five largest constituents that are below 8% (provided they cannot be increased above 8%) and (ii) any other non-ADR constituents that are below 4% (provided they cannot be increased above 4%).
Issue Changes. The Underlying Index undergoes a full reconstitution of constituent holdings annually in September. At the annual reconstitution, qualifying constituents are re-selected based on the eligibility criteria, and float-adjusted market capitalization weights are determined subject to the weighting exposure limits. The reference date for the input data used to determine security qualification is the close of the last trading day of July, and reference data for the input data used to determine weights is the close of the last trading day of August. The announcement date is the close of the first Friday of September.
Quarterly Index Rebalancing. In addition to the annual reconstitution, the Underlying Index is rebalanced after the close of the third Friday of March, June, and December. At the quarterly rebalances, no constituents are added to or removed from the Underlying Index; however, constituent weights are recalculated based on updated float-adjusted market capitalizations subject to the weighting exposure limits. The reference date for all input data used in the quarterly rebalances is the close of the last trading day of the month preceding the month of effectiveness (February, May, November) and the announcement date is the close of the first Friday of the rebalance month.
Index Maintenance. The Underlying Index is adjusted for corporate actions that affect constituents and implements any intra-quarter float-adjusted shares outstanding updates greater than 10% in scheduled monthly share updates that take effect after the close of the last trading day of each month. Securities are removed from the Underlying Index only when both the transaction and delisting is either confirmed or deemed imminent. If a security is suspended prior to its removal from the
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Underlying Index, then the security is deleted at the close of the next trading day at either the last traded price (cash only terms) or the value of the deal terms (share or cash/share terms), if available. There are no intra-quarter replacements of constituents in the Underlying Index. The Underlying Index implements a zero-price spin-off policy. A spin-co is added into the Underlying Index effective for the spin-off ex-date with a $0 price and no price adjustment is made on the parent company. After the close of the first day of trading for the spin-co, it is deleted from the Underlying Index at its last traded price.
JPX-Nikkei 400 Net Total Return Index
Number of Components: approximately 400
Index Description. The JPX-Nikkei 400 Net Total Return Index was jointly developed by Japan Exchange Group, Inc. and JPX Market Innovation & Research, Inc. (collectively referred to as the JPX Group) and Nikkei Inc. (the Nikkei). The JPX-Nikkei 400 Net Total Return Index is constructed based on market capitalization adjusted by free-float weight. Free-float weight is the percentage of listed shares deemed to be available for trading in the market. As a general matter, shares held by the top 10 major shareholders, treasury and other similar shares, shares held by board members and other representatives, shares held for policy purposes (so-called strategic shareholdings), and other shares deemed by the JPX Group and the Nikkei to be unavailable for trading in the market are considered to be non-free float shares.
Eligibility. Underlying Index eligibility is limited to (i) common stocks traded primarily on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Prime Market, Standard Market or Growth Market and (ii) Tokyo Stock Exchange Prime Market, Standard Market or Growth Market-listed securities other than common stocks that are regarded by the JPX Group and the Nikkei as equivalent to common stocks in each case if their inclusion is deemed to be particularly necessary- as determined by the JPX Group and the Nikkei.
Index Maintenance and Issue Changes. The constituents are reviewed annually at the end of August. The Index Provider selects 400 constituents, based on: (i) trading value over the past three years, (ii) market value on the selection base date (the end of June), (iii) scoring by stock by three-year average returns on equity, cumulative operating profit and market value on the selection base date using specified weightings and (iv) qualitative factors tied to corporate governance and disclosure. The JPX Group and the Nikkei have indicated that securities will be dropped from the Underlying Index during the year if they are delisted or are the subject of a merger or bankruptcy and that new securities will not be added to replace dropped securities until the annual review. As a result, at different points throughout the calendar year, the Underlying Index may have fewer than 400 components.
NYSE® FactSet U.S. Infrastructure IndexTM
Number of Components: approximately 154
Index Description. The NYSE® FactSet U.S. Infrastructure IndexTM is designed to measure the performance of equity securities of U.S. companies involved in U.S. focused infrastructure activities (as determined by the index provider of the Underlying Index).
Companies are eligible to be included in the Underlying Index if they are classified to be under one of the 95 infrastructure-related industries as defined by FactSet Revere Business Industry Classification System (RBICS). Each company in the Underlying Index is classified as either Category 1 or Category 2, where Category 1 companies are infrastructure enablers and Category 2 are infrastructure asset owners and operators.
Infrastructure enablers are potential beneficiaries of infrastructure investment in the U.S. Category 1 companies in the Underlying Index include companies in construction and engineering services, machineries and materials. Infrastructure asset owners and operators are companies associated with traditional equity infrastructure investing, which generally exhibit characteristics such as having stable cash flows, a high barrier to entry, and being an inflation hedge. Category 2 companies in the Underlying Index include companies in energy transportation and storage, railroad transportation, and utilities.
At the time of inclusion, eligible companies must derive 50% or more of their annual revenues from the U.S. The Underlying Index applies an equal weighting to Category 1 and Category 2, and within each category, an equal weighting is also applied to all individual securities.
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The Underlying Index will be reviewed and reconstituted annually in March each year. Constituent weights of the Underlying Index are rebalanced quarterly in March, June, September and December.
Eligibility. The following rules are used for the initial constituent selection and ongoing reconstitution:
Underlying Index eligibility is limited to common stocks traded primarily on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), NYSE American and NASDAQ, excluding master limited partnerships (MLPs), royalty trusts, business development companies (BDCs), and American depository receipts (ADRs).
Initial Public Offering (IPO) securities that have been trading for less than 3 months prior to the reconstitution day are excluded.
The securities must have a minimum float-adjusted market capitalization of U.S. $300 million or greater, and three-month Average Daily Trading Value (ADTV) of U.S. $1 million or greater on selection day.
Existing constituents may remain in the Underlying Index if they have a minimum float-adjusted market capitalization of U.S. $225 million or greater, and a three-month ADTV of U.S. $0.75 million or greater on selection day.
The securities must be classified as having a focus (deriving 50% or more revenues) in one of the 95 infrastructure-related industries as defined by RBICS in either Category 1 or 2, where Category 1 companies are infrastructure enablers and Category 2 companies are infrastructure asset owners and operators.
An eligible company must derive 50% or more of its annual revenues from the U.S. to be included in the Underlying Index.
Existing constituents may remain in the Underlying Index if they derive 40% or more its annual revenues from the U.S.
If a company has multiple share classes, only the most liquid issue based on the highest three-month ADTV on selection day will be included.
The Russell Indexes
Component Selection Criteria. The securities in the Russell indexes (sometimes referred to as the components) are reviewed and reconstituted annually, typically after the close on the last Friday in June to reflect changes in the marketplace. The Russell Top 200® Index, Russell 2000® Index, Russell 1000® Index, Russell US Large Cap Factors Value Style Index, Russell US Large Cap Factors Growth Style Index, Russell 1000 Growth Index and Russell 1000 Value Index are subsets of the Russell 3000® Index.
The Russell 3000® Index measures the performance of approximately the largest 3,000 U.S. companies, representing approximately 98% of the investable U.S. equity market. The Russell 3000® Index is constructed to provide a comprehensive, unbiased, and stable barometer of the broad market and is completely reconstituted annually, typically after the close on the last Friday in June, to ensure new and growing equities are included.
The starting universe for the Russell 3000® Index includes all issuers listed on a U.S. Exchange that are either U.S. incorporated or incorporated in certain non-U.S. jurisdictions as Benefit-Driven Incorporations (typically tax benefit incorporations), subject to the following rules and exceptions:
stocks must trade at or above $1.00 on the last business day of August to be eligible for inclusion. If a stock in the index has a price lower than $1, it can remain in the index if the average price for the month is greater than $1;
for ranking and membership determination, all common share classes for a single company are combined to determine total market capitalization;
in cases where there are multiple common stock share classes and the share classes act independently of each other, each class is considered for inclusion separately; and
also excluded are preferred and convertible preferred stock, participating preferred stock, redeemable shares, warrants and rights, trust receipts, royalty trusts, limited liability issuers, OTC bulletin boards and pink sheet stocks, mutual funds, limited partnerships, and foreign stocks.
All eligible securities are sorted by decreasing total market capitalization to determine index eligibility.
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The Russell 1000 Index is constructed to provide a comprehensive and unbiased barometer for the large- and mid-capitalization segments of the investable U.S. equity market. It is a float-adjusted capitalization-weighted index consisting approximately 1000 of the largest issuers in the Russell 3000 Index.
For the Russell 3000® Index and the Russell 1000® Index, the weights of component issuers are adjusted based on available float-weighted capitalization according to the market value of their available outstanding shares. The impact of a component security’s price change is proportional to the issuer’s total market value, which is the share price times the number of shares available. Each Russell Index is adjusted to reflect changes in capitalization resulting from mergers, acquisitions, stock rights, substitutions and other capital events.
Frank Russell Company uses a probability measure to assign stocks to the growth and value style indexes. The probability measure is used to indicate the degree of certainty that a stock is value or growth, based on three fundamental indicators: relative price-to-book (PB) ratio, Institutional Brokers’ Estimate System forecast medium-term growth (2 years) and sales per share historical growth (5 years). This method allows stocks to be represented as having both growth and value characteristics, while preserving the additive nature of the indexes. As a result, a stock may be a component of a Russell growth style index and also a component of the corresponding value style index, although the stock would likely have a different weight in each index.
Issue Changes. Securities that leave the Russell Indexes between reconstitution dates are not replaced. Thus, the number of securities in the investments over the year will fluctuate according to corporate activity. When a stock is acquired, delisted or moves to the pink sheets or OTC bulletin boards, the stock is deleted from the relevant indexes.
When acquisitions or mergers take place, the stock’s capitalization moves to the acquiring stock, hence, mergers have no effect on index total capitalization if the acquiring stock is part of the index. The only additions between reconstitution dates are as a result of spin-offs and IPOs.
Issue Changes for the Focused Value Select Index. The Focused Value Select Index will be reviewed monthly, with changes being implemented after the close of the 6th business day. Changes arising from review are announced after the close of the 4th business day. The Underlying Index is rebalanced to the Target Index if any of the following conditions are met:
The Underlying Index’s Composite Score is less than 80% of the Target Index’s Composite Score.
The Underlying Index has fewer than 40 securities.
The Underlying Index includes a security with weight greater than 20% of the Underlying Index.
The largest 5 securities by weight in the Underlying Index have a weight that is greater than 50% of the Underlying Index.
If no rebalance is triggered, the index weights and constituents remain unchanged.
A constituent will be removed from the Underlying Index if it is also removed from the Parent Index. The deletion will be concurrent with the deletion from the Underlying Index and its weight will be distributed pro-rata amongst the remaining constituents. Thus, the number of securities in the investments over the year will fluctuate according to corporate activity.
Additions to the Parent Index will be considered for inclusion in the Underlying Index at the next review.
Index Maintenance. Maintaining the Russell indexes includes monitoring and completing the adjustments for company additions and deletions, share changes, stock splits, stock dividends, and stock price adjustments due to restructuring and spin-offs and quarterly initial public offerings. In addition, significant share capital changes are made at month-end. The divisor is adjusted for all changes in company market value to leave the value of the investments unaffected. All divisor adjustments are made after the close of trading and after the calculation of the closing value of the Russell indexes.
Index Availability. The Russell indexes are calculated continuously and are available from major data vendors.
Focused Value Select Index
Number of Components: approximately 41
Index Description. The Focused Value Select Index measures the performance of large- and mid-capitalization U.S. companies with prominent value factor characteristics, as determined by Russell. The Underlying Index is a subset of the
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Russell 1000® Index (the Parent Index), which measures the performance of the large- and mid-capitalization sector of the U.S. equity market, as defined by Russell. The starting universe for the Underlying Index includes all issuers within the Parent Index that are listed on a U.S. exchange and that are either U.S. incorporated or incorporated in certain non-U.S. jurisdictions as benefit-driven corporations (typically tax benefit corporations), subject to the following rules and exceptions:
If a company has issued multiple lines of equity capital, only one eligible line is included. The eligible line is the line with the highest 252 days ADDTV. A minimum of 200 days of daily observations are required to calculate ADDTV. If a line has missing ADDTV, the line is excluded. If all lines have no ADDTV, the line with the highest free float market cap is selected.
Securities ranked within the top 10% highest risk or with missing data are excluded. Risk is defined as the 1 year trailing realized volatility of daily total returns. A minimum of 200 days of daily return observations are required to calculate volatility.
Securities ranked within the top 10% highest leverage or with missing data are excluded. Leverage is defined as total debt to total assets sourced from third party data provider.
Also excluded are preferred and convertible preferred stock, participating preferred stock, redeemable shares, warrants and rights, trust receipts, royalty trusts, limited liability issuers, OTC bulletin boards and pink sheet stocks, mutual funds, limited partnerships, and foreign stocks.
To determine constituents exhibiting prominent value characteristics, the Underlying Index uses a ‘sentiment’ screen. A sentiment score is calculated using estimates for earnings per share sourced from third party data providers. The sentiment score is calculated as follows:
(Number of upgrades for earnings per share for current and next fiscal year - Number of downgrades for earnings per share for current and next fiscal year)/ Total number of estimates for earnings per share for current and next fiscal year.
Securities with a negative sentiment score or missing data are excluded. Eligible securities are ranked by a weighted composite score of four value metrics (price-to-book, price-to-earnings, price-to-cash flow from operations and price-to-dividend) (the Composite Score). The top 40 ranked stocks are selected to form the Target Index, which is re-evaluated each month. Each security included in the Target Index is equally weighted.
Russell 1000® Index
Number of Components: approximately 1,007
Index Description. The Russell 1000 Index measures the performance of the large- and mid-capitalization segments of the U.S. equity market. It is a subset of the Russell 3000 Index and serves as the parent index for, among others, (e.g. also the Pure Domestic Exposure sub-index) the Russell 1000 Growth and Value Indexes, the Russell Top 200 Index, and the Russell Midcap Index. It is a float-adjusted capitalization-weighted index consisting approximately 1000 of the largest issuers in the Russell 3000 Index. The Underlying Index represents approximately 94% of the market capitalization of listed U.S. equities and is a leading benchmark of the large cap U.S. market.
Russell 1000® Growth Index
Number of Components: approximately 509
Index Description. The Russell 1000 Growth Index measures the performance of the large- and mid-capitalization growth sector of the U.S. equity market. It is a subset of the Russell 1000 Index. It is a style factor weighted index consisting of those issuers within the Russell 1000 Index that have higher price-to-book ratios, higher forecasted medium-term growth and higher sales-per-share historical growth, and represents approximately 51% of the total market value of the Russell 1000 Index.
Russell 1000 Telecommunications RIC 22.5/45 Capped Index
Number of Components: approximately 21
Index Description. The Russell 1000 Telecommunications RIC 22.5/45 Capped Index is designed to measure the performance of large- and-mid-capitalization companies in the telecommunications sector of the U.S. equity market. It is a subset of the market capitalization-weighted Russell 1000 Index. The Underlying Index uses a capping methodology to constrain at quarterly rebalance: (i) the weights of any single issuer (as determined by Russell) to a maximum of 22.5%, and (ii) the aggregate weight of all issuers that individually exceed 4.5% of the index weight to a maximum of 45%.
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Russell 1000® Value Index
Number of Components: approximately 849
Index Description. The Russell 1000 Value Index measures the performance of the large- and mid-capitalization value sector of the U.S. equity market. It is a subset of the Russell 1000 Index. It is a style factor weighted index consisting of those issuers within the Russell 1000 Index that have lower price-to-book ratios, lower sales-per-share historical growth and lower forecasted growth, and represents approximately 49% of the total market value of the Russell 1000 Index.
Russell 2000® Index
Number of Components: approximately 1,921
Index Description. The Russell 2000 Index measures the performance of the small-capitalization sector of the U.S. equity market. It is a subset of the Russell 3000 Index and serves as the parent index for the Russell 2000 Growth and Value Indexes. It is a float-adjusted capitalization-weighted index consisting approximately 1,921 of the smallest issuers in the Russell 3000 Index. The Underlying Index represents approximately 6% of the market capitalization of listed U.S. equities and is a leading benchmark of the U.S. small cap equity market. The Underlying Index has a total market capitalization of approximately $3.2 trillion.
Russell 2000 Focused Value Select Index
Number of Components: approximately 238
Index Description. The Russell 2000 Focused Value Select Index measures the performance of small-capitalization U.S. companies with prominent value factor characteristics, as determined by Russell. The Underlying Index is a subset of the Russell 2000® Index (the Parent Index), which measures the performance of the small-capitalization segment of the U.S. equity market, as defined by Russell. The starting universe for the Underlying Index includes all issuers within the Parent Index that are listed on a U.S. exchange and that are either U.S. incorporated or incorporated in certain non-U.S. jurisdictions as benefit-driven corporations (typically tax benefit corporations), subject to the following rules and exceptions:
● If a company has issued multiple lines of equity capital, only one eligible line is included. The eligible line is the line with the highest 60 days ADDTV. A minimum of 30 days of daily observations are required to calculate ADDTV. If a line has missing ADDTV, the line is excluded. If all lines have no ADDTV, the line with the highest free float market cap is selected.
● Securities ranked within the least liquid 20% by count (i.e. approximately 400 securities) based on 60-day ADDTV are excluded.
● Securities ranked within the top 20% highest risk or with missing data are excluded. Risk is defined as the 1-year trailing realized volatility of daily total returns. A minimum of 200 days of daily return observations are required to calculate volatility.
● Securities ranked within the top 20% highest leverage or with missing data are excluded. Leverage is defined as total debt to total assets sourced from a third party data provider.
● Also excluded are preferred and convertible preferred stock, participating preferred stock, redeemable shares, warrants and rights, trust receipts, royalty trusts, limited liability issuers, OTC bulletin boards and pink sheet stocks, mutual funds, limited partnerships, and foreign stocks.
To determine constituents exhibiting prominent value characteristics, the Underlying Index uses a sentiment screen. Securities with a negative sentiment score or missing data are excluded. A sentiment score is calculated using estimates for earnings per share sourced from third party data providers. The sentiment score is calculated as follows:
(Number of upgrades for earnings per share for current and next fiscal year - Number of downgrades for earnings per share for current and next fiscal year)/ Total number of estimates for earnings per share for current and next fiscal year.
Eligible securities are ranked by a weighted composite score of three value metrics (price-to-book (10%), price-to-earnings (30%) and price-to-cash flow from operations (60%)) (the Composite Score). The top 250 ranked stocks are selected and equally weighted to form a baseline or target composition (the Target Index).
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The Underlying Index will be reviewed monthly, with changes being implemented after the close of the 6th business day. Changes arising from review are announced after the close of the 4th business day. The Underlying Index is rebalanced to the Target Index if any of the following conditions are met:
● The Underlying Index’s Composite Score is less than 90% of the Target Index’s Composite Score.
● The Underlying Index has fewer than 200 securities.
If no rebalance is triggered, the index weights and constituents remain unchanged.
A constituent will be removed from the Underlying Index if it is also removed from the Parent Index. The deletion will be concurrent with the deletion from the Parent Index and its weight will be distributed pro-rata amongst the remaining constituents. Thus, the number of securities in the Underlying Index over the year will fluctuate according to corporate activity.
Additions to the Parent Index will be considered for inclusion in the Underlying Index at the next review.
Russell 2000® Growth Index
Number of Components: approximately 1,095
Index Description. The Russell 2000 Growth Index measures the performance of the small-capitalization growth sector of the U.S. equity market. It is a subset of the Russell 2000 Index. It is a style factor weighted index consisting of those issuers within the Russell 2000 Index that have higher price-to-book ratios, lower sales-per-share historical growth and lower forecasted growth, and represents approximately 52% of the total market value of the Russell 2000 Index.
Russell 2000® Value Index
Number of Components: approximately 1,363
Index Description. The Russell 2000 Value Index measures the performance of the small-capitalization value sector of the U.S. equity market. It is a subset of the Russell 2000 Index. It is a style factor weighted index consisting of those issuers within the Russell 2000 Index that have lower price-to-book ratios, lower sales-per-share historical growth and lower forecasted growth, and represents approximately 48% of the total market value of the Russell 2000 Index.
Russell 3000® Index
Number of Components: approximately 2,928
Index Description. The Russell 3000 Index measures the performance of the broad U.S. equity market. It serves as the parent index for Russell 3000 Growth and Value Indexes as well as the Russell 1000 and Russell 2000 Indexes. It is a float-adjusted capitalization-weighted index of the 3000 largest issuers determined to have the U.S. as their primary country of risk. The Russell 3000 Index represents approximately 96% of the market capitalization of listed U.S. equities and is a leading benchmark of the broad U.S. equity market.
Russell Microcap® Index
Number of Components: approximately 1,722
Index Description. The Russell Microcap Index measures the performance of the microcap sector of the U.S. equity market. The Russell Microcap Index consists of approximately the 1,000 smallest issuers in the Russell 3000 Index plus up to the next smallest 1,000 issuers in the equity universe as determined by Russell. The Russell Microcap Index is a float-adjusted capitalization-weighted index and includes issuers ranging in total market capitalization from approximately $0.35 million to $4.99 billion, though these amounts may change from time to time. The Russell Microcap Index includes issuers representing less than approximately 2% of the total market capitalization of listed U.S. equity securities.
Russell Midcap® Index
Number of Components: approximately 814
Index Description. The Russell Midcap Index is a float-adjusted capitalization-weighted index that measures the performance of the mid-capitalization sector of the U.S. equity market. The Russell Midcap Index consists of 814 of the smallest issuers in the Russell 1000 Index reflecting issuers which range in size between approximately $536.68 million and $59.13 billion, though these amounts may change from time to time. The Russell Midcap Index represents approximately 25% of the total market capitalization of the Russell 1000 companies.
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Russell Midcap® Growth Index
Number of Components: approximately 397
Index Description. The Russell Midcap Growth Index is a style factor weighted index that measures the performance of the mid-capitalization growth sector of the U.S. equity market. It is a subset of the Russell Midcap Index, representing approximately 37% of the total market value of the Russell Midcap Index. The Underlying Index measures the performance of those Russell Midcap Index issuers with higher PB ratios and higher forecasted growth.
Russell Midcap® Value Index
Number of Components: approximately 695
Index Description. The Russell Midcap Value Index is a float-adjusted capitalization-weighted index that measures the performance of the mid-capitalization value sector of the U.S. equity market. It is a subset of the Russell Midcap Index, representing approximately 63% of the total market value of the Russell Midcap Index. The Underlying Index measures the performance of those Russell Midcap Index issuers with lower PB ratios and lower forecasted growth.
Russell Top 200® Index
Number of Components: approximately 193
Index Description. The Russell Top 200 Index measures the performance of the largest capitalization sector of the U.S. equity market. It is a float-adjusted capitalization-weighted index consisting of approximately 193 of the largest issuers in the Russell 3000 Index. The Russell Top 200 Index represents approximately 70% of the total market capitalization of all publicly-traded U.S. equity securities.
Russell Top 200® Growth Index
Number of Components: approximately 112
Index Description. The Russell Top 200 Growth Index measures the largest capitalization growth sector of the U.S. equity market. It is a subset of the Russell Top 200 Index, which consists of approximately the 200 largest issuers in the Russell 3000 Index. The Underlying Index is a float-adjusted capitalization-weighted index consisting of those issuers within the Russell Top 200 Index that have higher PB ratios and higher forecasted growth, and represents approximately 56% of the total market value of the Russell Top 200 Index. Many issuers are represented in both the Russell Top 200 Growth Index and the Russell Top 200 Value Index.
Russell Top 200® Value Index
Number of Components: approximately 154
Index Description. The Russell Top 200 Value Index measures the largest capitalization value sector of the U.S. equity market. It is a subset of the Russell Top 200 Index, which consists of approximately the 200 largest issuers in the Russell 3000 Index. The Underlying Index is a style factor weighted index consisting of those issuers within the Russell Top 200 Index that have lower PB ratios and lower forecasted growth, and represents approximately 44% of the total market value of the Russell Top 200 Index. Many issuers are represented in both the Russell Top 200 Growth Index and the Russell Top 200 Value Index.
Russell US Large Cap Factors Growth Style Index
Number of Components: approximately 121
Index Description. The Russell US Large Cap Factors Growth Style Index is a subset of the Russell 1000 Growth Index (the Parent Index), which measures the performance of the large- and mid-capitalization growth sector of the U.S. equity market, as defined by Russell. The Parent Index is a subset of the Russell 1000 Index, which measures the performance of the large- and mid-capitalization segments of the U.S. equity market. The Underlying Index is reviewed monthly using an optimization process designed to maximize, in aggregate, the Underlying Index’s exposure to the weighted combination of five target investment style factors (momentum, value, quality, size, and low volatility) while maintaining total risk similar to that of the Parent Index. The value score is calculated from the following value factor metrics: 12-month trailing book-to-price, dividend yield, earnings yield and cash flow yield (i.e., cash flow divided by the full market capitalization). The momentum score is calculated from three momentum factor metrics: price momentum, earnings momentum and earnings
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announcement drift (i.e., the difference between a stock’s performance on and immediately following an earnings announcement date). The quality score is calculated from four quality factor metrics: gross profitability, dilution, accruals and changes in net operating assets. The low volatility score is calculated based on a 12-month trailing realized volatility, and the size score seeks to measure the market capitalization of each company as compared to other companies of the Parent Index.
Index Methodology. The methodology uses a composite score (by using a weighting of the five factor scores determined by the Index Provider) as an input to the optimizer. At each monthly review, the optimizer aims to maximize the overall exposure to the five style factors via the composite score and maintain a level of forecast risk similar that of the Parent Index, while also limiting exposures to sectors, countries and component weights relative to the parent index. The optimizer selects securities from the Parent Index and assigns weights such that the optimization objective and constraints are best satisfied. Changes arising from each monthly review are announced after the close of fourth business day of each month and implemented after the close of the sixth business day of each month.
Russell US Large Cap Factors Value Style Index
Number of Components: approximately 198
Index Description. The Russell US Large Cap Factors Value Style Index is a subset of the Russell 1000 Value Index (the Parent Index), which measures the performance of the large- and mid-capitalization value sector of the U.S. equity market, as defined by Russell. The Parent Index is a subset of the Russell 1000 Index, which measures the performance of the large- and mid-capitalization segments of the U.S. equity market. The Underlying Index is reviewed monthly using an optimization process designed to maximize, in aggregate, the Underlying Index’s exposure to the weighted combination of five target investment style factors (momentum, value, quality, size, and low volatility) while maintaining total risk similar to that of the Parent Index. The value score is calculated from the following value factor metrics: 12-month trailing book-to-price, dividend yield, earnings yield and cash flow yield (i.e., cash flow divided by the full market capitalization). The momentum score is calculated from three momentum factor metrics: price momentum, earnings momentum and earnings announcement drift (i.e., the difference between a stock's performance on and immediately following an earnings announcement date). The quality score is calculated from four quality factor metrics: gross profitability, dilution, accruals and changes in net operating assets. The low volatility score is calculated based on a 12-month trailing realized volatility, and the size score seeks to measure the market capitalization of each company as compared to other companies of the Parent Index.
Index Methodology. The methodology uses a composite score (by using a weighting of the five factor scores determined by the Index Provider) as an input to the optimizer. At each monthly review, the optimizer aims to maximize the overall exposure to the five style factors via the composite score and maintain a level of forecast risk similar that of the Parent Index, while also limiting exposures to sectors, countries and component weights relative to the parent index. The optimizer selects securities from the Parent Index and assigns weights such that the optimization objective and constraints are best satisfied. Changes arising from each monthly review are announced after the close of fourth business day of each month and implemented after the close of the sixth business day of each month.
The S&P Indexes
Component Selection Criteria for Domestic Indexes.