485BPOS 1 d741730d485bpos.htm FORM 485BPOS Form 485BPOS

As filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on November 22, 2019

File Nos. 333-92935 and 811-09729

 

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

 

FORM N-1A

REGISTRATION STATEMENT

UNDER

      THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933  
      Post-Effective Amendment No. 2,229  

and/or

REGISTRATION STATEMENT

UNDER

      THE INVESTMENT COMPANY ACT OF 1940  
      Amendment No. 2,229  

(Check appropriate box or boxes)

 

 

iShares Trust

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Charter)

 

 

c/o State Street Bank and Trust Company

1 Lincoln Street

Mail Stop SFC 0805

Boston, MA 02111

(Address of Principal Executive Office)(Zip Code)

Registrant’s Telephone Number, including Area Code: (415) 670-2000

The Corporation Trust Company

1209 Orange Street

Wilmington, DE 19801

(Name and Address of Agent for Service)

 

 

With Copies to:

 

MARGERY K. NEALE, ESQ.   DEEPA DAMRE, ESQ.
WILLKIE FARR &   BLACKROCK FUND
GALLAGHER LLP   ADVISORS
787 SEVENTH AVENUE   400 HOWARD STREET
NEW YORK, NY 10019-6099   SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94105

 

 

It is proposed that this filing will become effective (check appropriate box):

 

Immediately upon filing pursuant to paragraph (b)

On November 29, 2019 pursuant to paragraph (b)

60 days after filing pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)

On (date) pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)

75 days after filing pursuant to paragraph (a)(2)

On (date) pursuant to paragraph (a)(2)

If appropriate, check the following box:

 

 

This post-effective amendment designates a new effective date for a previously filed post-effective amendment.

 

 

 


November 29, 2019
   
    
2019 Prospectus
iShares Trust
•  iShares Adaptive Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF | DEFA | CBOE BZX
Beginning on January 1, 2021, as permitted by regulations adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), paper copies of the Fund’s shareholder reports will no longer be sent by mail, unless you specifically request paper copies of the reports from your financial intermediary, such as a broker-dealer or bank. Instead, the reports will be made available on a website, and you will be notified by mail each time a report is posted and provided with a website link to access the report.
If you already elected to receive shareholder reports electronically, you will not be affected by this change and you need not take any action. If you hold accounts through a financial intermediary, you may contact your financial intermediary to enroll in electronic delivery. Please note that not all financial intermediaries may offer this service.
You may elect to receive all future reports in paper free of charge. If you hold accounts through a financial intermediary, you can follow the instructions included with this disclosure, if applicable, or contact your financial intermediary to request that you continue to receive paper copies of your shareholder reports. Please note that not all financial intermediaries may offer this service. Your election to receive reports in paper will apply to all funds held with your financial intermediary.
The SEC has not approved or disapproved these securities or passed upon the adequacy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 



 


Table of Contents
“MSCI EAFE® Adaptive Hedge to USD Index” is a servicemark of MSCI Inc. and has been licensed for use for certain purposes by BlackRock Fund Advisors or its affiliates. iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates. The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold, or promoted by MSCI Inc., nor does MSCI Inc. make any representation regarding the advisability of investing in the Fund.
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iSHARES® ADAPTIVE CURRENCY
HEDGED MSCI EAFE ETF
Ticker: DEFA Stock Exchange: Cboe BZX
Investment Objective
The iShares Adaptive Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF (the “Fund”) seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of large- and mid-capitalization equities in Europe, Australasia, and the Far East while dynamically hedging currency risk for a U.S. dollar based investor.
Fees and Expenses
The following table describes the fees and expenses that you will incur if you own shares of the Fund. The investment advisory agreement between iShares Trust (the “Trust”) and BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”) (the “Investment Advisory Agreement”) provides that BFA will pay all operating expenses of the Fund, except the management fees, interest expenses, taxes, expenses incurred with respect to the acquisition and disposition of portfolio securities and the execution of portfolio transactions, including brokerage commissions, distribution fees or expenses, litigation expenses and any extraordinary expenses. The Fund may incur “Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses.” Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses reflect the Fund's pro rata share of the fees and expenses incurred by investing in other investment companies. The impact of Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses is included in the total returns of the Fund. Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses are not included in the calculation of the ratio of expenses to average net assets shown in the Financial Highlights section of the Fund's prospectus (the “Prospectus”). BFA, the investment adviser to the Fund, has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees so that the Fund's total annual fund operating expenses after fee waiver is equal to the Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses attributable to the Fund's investment in the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (“EFA” or the “Underlying Fund”), after taking into account any fee waivers by EFA, plus 0.03% through November 30, 2020. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to November 30, 2020 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA.
You may also incur usual and customary brokerage commissions and other charges when buying or selling shares of the Fund, which are not reflected in the Example that follows:
Annual Fund Operating Expenses
(ongoing expenses that you pay each year as a
percentage of the value of your investments)
Management
Fees
  Distribution and
Service (12b-1)
Fees
  Other
Expenses
  Acquired Fund Fees
and Expenses
  Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
  Fee Waiver   Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
After
Fee Waiver
0.38%   None   None   0.32%   0.70%   (0.35)%   0.35%
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Example. This Example is intended to help you compare the cost of owning shares of the Fund with the cost of investing in other funds. The Example assumes that you invest $10,000 in the Fund for the time periods indicated and then sell all of your shares at the end of those periods. The Example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions, your costs would be:
1 Year   3 Years   5 Years   10 Years
$36   $188   $355   $837
Portfolio Turnover. The Fund and the Underlying Fund in which the Fund principally invests, the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF, may pay transaction costs, such as commissions, when they buy and sell securities (or “turn over” their portfolios). A higher portfolio turnover rate for the Fund or the Underlying Fund may indicate higher transaction costs and may cause the Fund or the Underlying Fund to incur increased expenses. These costs, which are not reflected in the Annual Fund Operating Expenses or in the Example (except costs to the Underlying Fund included as part of Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses), affect the Fund’s performance. During the most recent fiscal year, the Fund's portfolio turnover rate was 8% of the average value of its portfolio. To the extent the Underlying Fund incurs costs from high portfolio turnover, such costs may have a negative effect on the performance of the Fund.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the MSCI EAFE Adaptive Hedge to USD Index (the “Underlying Index”), which has been developed by MSCI Inc. (the “Index Provider” or “MSCI”) as an equity benchmark for
international stock performance with the foreign currency exposure of the securities included in the Underlying Index dynamically hedged against the U.S. dollar. The Index Provider systematically determines the hedging weights through analysis of four currency risk indicators: carry, momentum, value, and volatility. As of July 31, 2019, the Underlying Index consisted of securities from the following countries or regions: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (the “U.K.”). The Underlying Index may include
large- or mid-capitalization companies. As of July 31, 2019, a significant portion of the Underlying Index is represented by securities of companies in the financials industry or sector. The components of the Underlying Index are likely to change over time.
The Fund seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund.
BFA uses a “passive” or indexing approach to try to achieve the Fund’s investment objective. Unlike many investment companies, the Fund does
 
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not try to “beat” the index it tracks and does not seek temporary defensive positions when markets decline or appear overvalued.
Indexing may eliminate the chance that the Fund will substantially outperform the Underlying Index but also may reduce some of the risks of active management, such as poor security selection. Indexing seeks to achieve lower costs and better after-tax performance by aiming to keep portfolio turnover low in comparison to actively managed investment companies.
BFA uses a representative sampling indexing strategy to manage the Fund and the Underlying Fund. “Representative sampling” is an indexing strategy that involves investing in a representative sample of securities or other instruments comprising an applicable underlying index. The securities selected are expected to have, in the aggregate, investment characteristics (based on factors such as market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of an applicable underlying index. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may or may not hold all of the securities and other components of the applicable underlying index.
The Fund generally will invest at least 90% of its assets in the component securities (including indirect investments through the Underlying Fund) and other instruments of the Underlying Index and in investments that have economic characteristics that are substantially identical to the component securities of the Underlying Index (i.e., depositary receipts
representing securities of the Underlying Index) and may invest up to 10% of its assets in certain futures, options and swap contracts, cash and cash equivalents, including shares of money market funds advised by BFA or its affiliates, as well as in securities not included in the Underlying Index, but which BFA believes will help the Fund track the Underlying Index. Components of the Underlying Index include equity securities and currency forward contracts (both deliverable and non-deliverable) designed to hedge against non-U.S. currency fluctuations. The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the Underlying Index before fees and expenses of the Fund.
In order to track the “hedging” component of the Underlying Index, which attempts to mitigate currency risk, the Fund intends to enter into currency forward contracts designed to offset the Fund’s holdings in component securities denominated in a non-U.S. dollar currency. A currency forward contract is a contract between two parties to buy or sell a specified amount of a specific currency in the future at an agreed-upon exchange rate. The Fund’s exposure to currency forward contracts is based on the exposure of the Fund to the component securities and a hedge ratio (“Hedge Ratio”), as calculated by MSCI.
The Underlying Index applies a methodology, based on the Hedge Ratio, that sells the total value or a portion of the total value of each non-U.S. dollar currency in which the securities of the Underlying Index are denominated in the form of a one-month currency contract to create a “hedge” against fluctuations in the relative value of the currencies in relation to the U.S. dollar. The Hedge
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Ratio is based on four commonly used indicators for measuring currency risk, which are equally weighted and include: value (relative purchasing power between the foreign currency and the U.S. dollar based on exchange rates over a long-term average), momentum (relative price momentum of the foreign currency compared against the U.S. dollar over the previous six months), carry (differences in short-term interest rates between the foreign currency and the U.S. dollar over a long-term average), and volatility (relative price volatility of the foreign currency based on the currency’s one-month average against its six-month average). The overall effect, since the four indicators are equally weighted, is that each foreign currency represented by constituent weights in the Underlying Index can be unhedged, 25% hedged, 50% hedged, 75% hedged or fully hedged relative to the U.S. dollar.
The hedge (based on the Hedge Ratio) is reset on a monthly basis by MSCI and will not be adjusted intra-month based on movement in the value of the underlying equity securities and/or currencies, or based on the four indicators. The Underlying Index may therefore be slightly “over-hedged” (if equity values decline) or “under-hedged” (if the equity values increase) between the month-end rebalances. The Underlying Index is therefore intended to have higher returns than an equivalent unhedged investment when the non-U.S. dollar component currencies are weakening relative to the U.S. dollar. Conversely, the Underlying Index is therefore intended to have lower returns than an equivalent unhedged investment when the non-U.S. dollar component currencies are strengthening relative to the U.S. dollar.
While the use of currency forward contracts, based on the Hedge Ratio, is designed to minimize the impact of the strengthening or weakening of a foreign currency on Fund returns, it does not necessarily eliminate the Fund’s exposure to the non-U.S. dollar component currencies. The return of the currency forward contracts may not perfectly offset the actual fluctuations in value between the non-U.S. dollar component currencies and the U.S. dollar.
The Fund may use non-deliverable forward (“NDF”) contracts to execute its hedging transactions. An NDF is a contract where there is no physical settlement of two currencies at maturity. Rather, based on the movements of the currencies and the contractually agreed-upon exchange rate, a net cash settlement will be made by one party to the other.
The Fund may lend securities representing up to one-third of the value of the Fund's total assets (including the value of any collateral received).
The Underlying Index is sponsored by MSCI, which is independent of the Fund and BFA. The Index Provider determines the composition and relative weightings of the securities and currency forwards in the Underlying Index and publishes information regarding the market value of the Underlying Index.
Industry Concentration Policy. The Fund will concentrate its investments (i.e., hold 25% or more of its total assets) in a particular industry or group of industries to approximately the same extent that the Underlying Index is concentrated. For purposes of this limitation, securities of the U.S. government (including its agencies and
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instrumentalities) and repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.
Summary of Principal Risks
As with any investment, you could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund's performance could trail that of other investments. The Fund is subject to certain risks, including the principal risks noted below (either directly or through its investments in the Underlying Fund), any of which may adversely affect the Fund's net asset value per share (“NAV”), trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Asset Class Risk. Securities and other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's portfolio may underperform in comparison to the general financial markets, a particular financial market or other asset classes.
Assets Under Management (AUM) Risk. From time to time, an Authorized Participant (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus), a third-party investor, the Fund’s adviser or an affiliate of the Fund’s adviser, or a fund may invest in the Fund and hold its investment for a specific period of time to allow the Fund to achieve size or scale. There can be no assurance that any such entity would not redeem its investment or that the size of the Fund would be maintained at such levels, which could negatively impact the Fund.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant
may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund, and none of those Authorized Participants is obligated to engage in creation and/or redemption transactions. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as Authorized Participants on an agency basis (i.e., on behalf of other market participants). To the extent that Authorized Participants exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units (as defined in the Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares section of the Prospectus), Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium or discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts or delisting. Authorized Participant concentration risk may be heightened for exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”), such as the Fund, that invest in securities issued by non-U.S. issuers or other securities or instruments that have lower trading volumes.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class.
Currency Hedging Risk. When a derivative is used as a hedge against a position that the Fund or the Underlying Fund holds, 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
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losses, it can also reduce or eliminate gains. Hedges are sometimes subject to imperfect matching between the derivative and its reference asset, and there can be no assurance that the calculation methodology for the currency hedging or the Fund’s hedging transactions, when implemented, will be effective.
In seeking to track the “hedging” component of the Underlying Index, the Fund invests in currency forward contracts (which may include both physically-settled forward contracts and NDFs) designed to hedge the currency exposure of non-U.S. dollar denominated securities held in its portfolio (directly or indirectly through its investment in the Underlying Fund). NDFs may be less liquid than deliverable currency forward contracts and require the Fund to post variation margin to the counterparty, which can increase costs for the Fund. A lack of liquidity in NDFs of the hedged currency could result in the Fund being unable to structure its hedging transactions as intended. In addition, BFA may seek to limit the size of the Fund in order to attempt to reduce the likelihood of a situation where the Fund is unable to obtain sufficient liquidity in an underlying currency hedge to implement its investment objective.
Currency forward contracts, including NDFs, do not eliminate movements in the value of non-U.S. currencies and securities but rather allow the Fund to establish a fixed rate of exchange for a future point in time. Exchange rates may be volatile and may change quickly and unpredictably in response to both global economic developments and economic conditions in a geographic region in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests. In addition, in
order to minimize transaction costs, or for other reasons, the Fund’s exposure to the non-U.S. dollar component currencies may not be fully hedged to the extent indicated by the Hedge Ratio, as determined by the indicators described in the Fund's principal investment strategies. At certain times, the Fund may use an optimized hedging strategy and will hedge a smaller number of non-U.S. dollar component currencies to reduce hedging costs. In addition, each currency's hedge is reset on a monthly basis and will not be adjusted during the month based on movement in the value of the component securities or currencies. As a result, the Underlying Index may be “over-hedged” or “under-hedged” between month-end rebalances. Furthermore, while the Fund is designed to hedge against currency fluctuations, it is possible that a degree of currency exposure may remain even at the time a hedging transaction is implemented. As a result, the Fund may not be able to structure its hedging transactions as anticipated or its hedging transactions may not successfully reduce the currency risk included in the Fund’s portfolio. Because currency forwards are over-the-counter instruments, the Fund is subject to counterparty risk as well as market or liquidity risk with respect to the hedging transactions the Fund enters into. Currency hedging activity exposes the Fund to credit risk due to counterparty exposure. This risk will be higher to the extent that the Fund trades with a single counterparty or small number of counterparties.
The effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy will in general be affected by the volatility of both the Underlying Index and the volatility of the U.S. dollar relative to the currencies to
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be hedged, measured on an aggregate basis. Increased volatility in either or both of the Underlying Index and the U.S. dollar relative to the currencies to be hedged will generally reduce the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy as calculated by MSCI. In addition, volatility in one or more of the currencies may offset stability in another currency and reduce the overall effectiveness of the hedges. The effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy may also in general be affected by interest rates. Significant differences between U.S. dollar interest rates and some or all of the applicable foreign currency interest rates may impact the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy.
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's NAVs are determined in U.S. dollars, the Fund's NAV could decline if the currency of one or more of the non-U.S. markets in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar and the depreciation of one currency is not offset by appreciation in another currency and/or the Fund's attempt to hedge currency exposure to the depreciating currency or currencies is unsuccessful. Generally, an increase in the value of the U.S. dollar against the non-U.S. dollar component currencies will reduce the value of a security denominated in such currencies, as applicable. In addition, fluctuations in the exchange rates of currencies could affect the economy or particular business operations of companies in a geographic region, including securities in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests, causing an adverse impact on the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund’s investments in the affected region and the U.S. As a result,
investors have the potential for losses regardless of the length of time they intend to hold Fund shares. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the Fund's NAV may change quickly and without warning.
Cybersecurity Risk. Failures or breaches of the electronic systems of the Fund or the Underlying Fund, the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's adviser, distributor, the Index Provider and other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants, hedging counterparties to the Fund or the issuers of securities in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests have the ability to cause disruptions, negatively impact the Fund’s business operations and/or potentially result in financial losses to the Fund and its shareholders. While the Fund has established business continuity plans and risk management systems seeking to address system breaches or failures, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cybersecurity plans and systems of the Fund’s Index Provider and other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants, hedging counterparties to the Fund or issuers of securities in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests.
Derivatives Risk. The Fund will use currency forwards and NDFs to hedge the currency exposure resulting from investments in the foreign currency-denominated securities held by the Fund or the Underlying Fund. The Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's use of these instruments, like investments in other derivatives, may reduce the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's returns, increase volatility and/or result in losses due to credit risk or ineffective
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hedging strategies. Volatility is defined as the characteristic of a security, a currency, an index or a market, to fluctuate significantly in price within a defined time period. Currency forwards, like other derivatives, are also subject to counterparty risk, which is the risk that the other party in the transaction will not fulfill its contractual obligation. A risk of the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's use of derivatives is that the fluctuations in their values may not correlate perfectly with the value of the currency or currencies being hedged as compared to that of the U.S. dollar. The possible lack of a liquid secondary market for derivatives and the resulting inability of the Fund or the Underlying Fund to sell or otherwise close a derivatives position could expose the Fund or the Underlying Fund to losses and could make derivatives more difficult for the Fund or the Underlying Fund to value accurately. The Fund or the Underlying Fund could also suffer losses related to its derivatives positions as a result of unanticipated market movements, which losses are potentially unlimited. BFA’s use of derivatives is not intended to predict the direction of securities prices, currency exchange rates, interest rates and other economic factors, which could cause the Fund’s derivatives positions to lose value. Derivatives may give rise to a form of leverage and may expose the Fund or the Underlying Fund to greater risk and increase its costs. Regulatory requirements may make derivatives more costly, may limit the availability of derivatives, and may delay or restrict the exercise of remedies by the Fund upon a counterparty default under derivatives held by the Fund (which could result in losses), remedies or termination rights by the Fund, and
may otherwise adversely affect the value and performance of derivatives.
Equity Securities Risk. Equity securities are subject to changes in value, and their values may be more volatile than those of other asset classes. The Underlying Index is comprised of common stocks, which generally subject their holders to more risks than preferred stocks and debt securities because common stockholders’ claims are subordinated to those of holders of preferred stocks and debt securities upon the bankruptcy of the issuer.
Financials Sector Risk. Performance of companies in the financials sector may be adversely impacted by many factors, including, among others, changes in government regulations, economic conditions, interest rates, credit rating downgrades, and decreased liquidity in credit markets. The extent to which the Fund may invest in a company that engages in securities-related activities or banking is limited by applicable law. The impact of changes in capital requirements and recent or future regulation of any individual financial company, or of the financials sector as a whole, cannot be predicted. In recent years, cyberattacks and technology malfunctions and failures have become increasingly frequent in this sector and have caused significant losses to companies in this sector, which may negatively impact the Fund.
Geographic Risk. A natural disaster could occur in a geographic region in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests, which could adversely affect the economy or the business operations of companies in the specific geographic region, causing an adverse impact on
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the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's investments in the affected region.
Index-Related Risk. There is no guarantee that the Fund’s investment results will have a high degree of correlation to those of the Underlying Index or that the Fund will achieve its investment objective. Market disruptions and regulatory restrictions could have an adverse effect on the Fund’s ability to adjust its exposure to the required levels in order to track the Underlying Index. Errors in index data, index computations or the construction of the Underlying Index in accordance with its methodology may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, which may have an adverse impact on the Fund and its shareholders.
Investment in Underlying Fund Risk. The Fund expects to invest a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund, so the Fund’s investment performance is likely to be directly related to the performance of the Underlying Fund. The Fund’s NAV will change with changes in the value of the Underlying Fund and other instruments in which the Fund invests based on their market valuations. An investment in the Fund will entail more costs and expenses than a direct investment in the Underlying Fund, including as a result of the currency hedging activity conducted by the Fund.
As the Fund’s allocation to the Underlying Fund changes from time to time, or to the extent that the total annual fund operating expenses of the Underlying Fund changes, the weighted average operating expenses borne by the Fund may increase or decrease.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities and other instruments to which the Fund and the Underlying Fund have exposure. Changes in the financial condition or credit rating of an issuer of those securities or counterparty on other instruments may cause the value of the securities or instruments to decline.
Large-Capitalization Companies Risk. Large-capitalization companies may be less able than smaller capitalization companies to adapt to changing market conditions. Large-capitalization companies may be more mature and subject to more limited growth potential compared with smaller capitalization companies. During different market cycles, the performance of large-capitalization companies has trailed the overall performance of the broader securities markets.
Management Risk. As the Fund will not fully replicate the Underlying Index, it is subject to the risk that BFA's investment strategy may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns.
Market Trading Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund face numerous market trading risks, including the potential lack of an active market for their shares, losses from trading in secondary markets, losses due to ineffective currency hedges, periods of high volatility and disruptions in the creation/redemption process. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S AND THE
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UNDERLYING FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV.
Mid-Capitalization Companies Risk. Compared to large-capitalization companies, mid-capitalization companies may be less stable and more susceptible to adverse developments. In addition, the securities of mid-capitalization companies may be more volatile and less liquid than those of large-capitalization companies.
Model Risk. Neither the Fund nor BFA can offer assurances that the allocation and hedging model used to calculate the Underlying Index will achieve its intended results.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund or the Underlying Fund trade on foreign exchanges or in foreign markets that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s or the Underlying 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., the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks associated with investing in those non-U.S. markets, such as heightened risks of inflation or nationalization. The Fund or the Underlying Fund may lose money due to political, economic and geographic events affecting issuers of non-U.S.
securities  or non-U.S. markets. In addition, non-U.S. securities markets may trade a small number of securities and may be unable to respond effectively to changes in trading volume, potentially making prompt liquidation of holdings difficult or impossible at times. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are specifically exposed to Asian Economic Risk, European Economic Risk and Middle Eastern Economic Risk.
Operational Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are exposed to operational risks arising from a number of factors, including, but not limited to, human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund, the Underlying Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate to address significant operational risks.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are not actively managed, and BFA generally does not attempt to take defensive positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund invest in countries or regions whose economies are heavily dependent upon trading with key partners. Any reduction in this trading may have an adverse impact on the Fund's investments. Through its holdings of securities of certain issuers, the Fund and the Underlying Fund are specifically
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exposed to Asian Economic Risk, European Economic Risk and U.S. Economic Risk.
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. The Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's investment in developed country issuers may subject the Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, economic and other risks associated with developed countries. Developed countries tend to represent a significant portion of the global economy and have generally experienced slower economic growth than some less developed countries. Certain developed countries have experienced security concerns, such as terrorism and strained international relations. Incidents involving a country’s or region’s security may cause uncertainty in its markets and may adversely affect its economy and the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's investments. In addition, developed countries may be adversely impacted by changes to the economic conditions of certain key trading partners, regulatory burdens, debt burdens and the price or availability of certain commodities.
Risk of Investing in Japan. The Japanese economy may be subject to considerable degrees of economic, political and social instability, which could have a negative impact on Japanese securities. Since 2000, Japan’s economic growth rate has generally remained low relative to other advanced economies, and it may remain low in the future. In addition, Japan is subject to the risk of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons and tsunamis, which could negatively affect the Fund or the Underlying Fund. Japan’s relations with its neighbors have at times been strained, and strained relations may cause uncertainty in the
Japanese markets and adversely affect the overall Japanese economy.
Risk of Investing in the U.K. Investments in U.K. issuers may subject the Fund and the Underlying Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, and economic risks specific to the U.K. The U.K. has one of the largest economies in Europe, and the U.S. and other European countries are substantial trading partners of the U.K. As a result, the U.K.’s economy may be impacted by changes to the economic condition of the U.S. and other European countries. In a referendum held on June 23, 2016, the U.K. resolved to leave the European Union (the “EU”) (“Brexit”). The referendum has introduced significant uncertainties and instability in the financial markets as the U.K. negotiates its exit from the EU.
Securities Lending Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund or the Underlying Fund may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund or the Underlying Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund.
Small Fund Risk. When the Fund’s size is small, the Fund may experience low trading volume and wide bid/ask spreads. In addition, the Fund may face the risk of being delisted if the Fund does not meet certain conditions of the listing exchange. Any resulting
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liquidation of the Fund could cause the Fund to incur elevated transaction costs for the Fund and negative tax consequences for its shareholders.
Structural Risk. The countries in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests may be subject to considerable degrees of economic, political and social instability.
Tax Risk. Because the Fund invests in the Underlying Fund, the Fund’s realized losses on sales of shares of the Underlying Fund may be indefinitely or permanently deferred as “wash sales.” Distributions of short-term capital gains by the Underlying Fund will be recognized as ordinary income by the Fund and would not be offset by the Fund’s capital loss carryforwards, if any. Capital loss carryforwards of the Underlying Fund, if any, would not offset net capital gains of the Fund. Each of these effects is caused by the Fund’s investment in the Underlying Fund and may result in distributions to Fund shareholders being of higher magnitude and less likely to qualify for lower capital gain tax rates than if the Fund were to invest directly in the securities and other instruments comprising the Underlying Index. The Fund invests in derivatives. The federal income tax treatment of a derivative may not be as favorable as a direct investment in an underlying asset. Derivatives may produce taxable income and taxable realized gain. Derivatives may adversely affect the timing, character and amount of income the Fund realizes from its investments. As a result, a larger portion of the Fund’s distributions may be treated as ordinary income rather than as capital gains. In addition, certain derivatives are subject to mark-to-market or straddle provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as
amended (the “Internal Revenue Code”). If such provisions are applicable, there could be an increase (or decrease) in the amount of taxable dividends paid by the Fund. Income from swaps is generally taxable. In addition, the tax treatment of certain derivatives, such as swaps, is unsettled and may be subject to future legislation, regulation or administrative pronouncements issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”).
Tracking Error Risk. The Fund may be subject to tracking error, which is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities (including shares of the Underlying Fund) and other instruments held in the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences (including, as applicable, differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the Fund’s valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the Fund’s NAV), transaction and hedging costs incurred and forward rates achieved by the Fund, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or other distributions, interest, the requirements to maintain pass-through tax treatment, portfolio transactions carried out to minimize the distribution of capital gains to shareholders, changes to the Underlying Index and the cost to the Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. These risks may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions in the affected securities and/or foreign exchange markets. In addition, tracking error may result because the Fund
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incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not, and because the Fund accepts creations and redemptions during time periods between which it is able to adjust its currency hedges, whereas the Underlying Index does not adjust its hedging during these periods. To the extent that the Fund seeks its investment objective through investments in the Underlying Fund, the Fund may experience increased tracking error as compared to investing directly in the component securities of the Underlying Index. The potential for increased tracking error may result from investments in the Underlying Fund due to, among other things, differences in the composition of the investment portfolio of the Underlying Fund as compared to the index tracked by the Underlying Fund and differences in the timing of the Fund’s valuation of: (i) the Underlying Fund and the currency forward contracts (each valued as of the close of the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”), typically 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time), (ii) the valuation of the securities in the Underlying Index (generally valued as of each security’s local market close) and (iii) the currency forward contracts included in the Underlying Index (generally valued at 4:00 p.m., London time).
Valuation Risk. The price the Fund and the Underlying Fund could receive upon
the sale of a security or unwind of a financial instrument or other asset may differ from the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's valuation of the security, instrument or other asset and from the value used by the Underlying Index, particularly for securities or other instruments that trade in low volume or volatile markets or that are valued using a fair value methodology as a result of trade suspensions or for other reasons. In addition, the value of the securities or other instruments in the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's portfolio may change on days or during time periods when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's shares. Authorized Participants who purchase or redeem Fund shares on days when the Fund or the Underlying Fund is holding fair-valued securities may receive fewer or more shares, or lower or higher redemption proceeds, than they would have received had the Fund or the Underlying Fund not fair-valued securities or used a different valuation methodology. The Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's ability to value investments may be impacted by technological issues or errors by pricing services or other third-party service providers.
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Performance Information
The bar chart and table that follow show how the Fund has performed on a calendar year basis and provide an indication of the risks of investing in the Fund. Both assume that all dividends and distributions have been reinvested in the Fund. Past performance (before and after taxes) does not necessarily indicate how the Fund will perform in the future. Supplemental information about the Fund’s performance is shown under the heading Total Return Information in the Supplemental Information section of the Prospectus. If BFA had not waived certain Fund fees during certain periods, the Fund's returns would have been lower.
Year by Year Returns1 (Year Ended December 31)

1 The Fund’s year-to-date return as of September 30, 2019 was 14.96%
The best calendar quarter return during the period shown above was 5.98% in the 1st quarter of 2017; the worst was -11.74% in the 4th quarter of 2018.
Updated performance information, including the Fund’s current NAV, may be obtained by visiting our website at www.iShares.com or by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) (toll free).
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Average Annual Total Returns
(for the periods ended December 31, 2018)
  One Year   Since Fund
Inception
(Inception Date: 1/5/2016)      
Return Before Taxes -10.66%   4.15%
Return After Taxes on Distributions1 -11.75%   3.34%
Return After Taxes on Distributions and Sale of Fund Shares1 -5.44%   3.28%
MSCI EAFE Adaptive Hedge to USD Index (Index returns do not reflect deductions for fees, expenses, or taxes) -10.54%   4.55%

1 After-tax returns in the table above are calculated using the historical highest individual U.S. federal marginal income tax rates and do not reflect the impact of state or local taxes. Actual after-tax returns depend on an investor’s tax situation and may differ from those shown, and after-tax returns shown are not relevant to tax-exempt investors or investors who hold shares through tax-deferred arrangements, such as 401(k) plans or individual retirement accounts (“IRAs”). Fund returns after taxes on distributions and sales of Fund shares are calculated assuming that an investor has sufficient capital gains of the same character from other investments to offset any capital losses from the sale of Fund shares. As a result, Fund returns after taxes on distributions and sales of Fund shares may exceed Fund returns before taxes and/or returns after taxes on distributions.
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Management
Investment Adviser. BlackRock Fund Advisors.
Portfolio Managers. Jennifer Hsui, Alan Mason, Orlando Montalvo and Greg Savage (the “Portfolio Managers”) are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager supervises a portfolio management team. Ms. Hsui, Mr. Mason, Mr. Montalvo and Mr. Savage have been Portfolio Managers of the Fund since 2016.
Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares
The Fund is an ETF. Individual shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange. Most investors will buy and sell shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer. The price of Fund shares is based on market price, and because ETF shares trade at market prices rather than at NAV, shares may trade at a price greater than NAV (a premium) or less than NAV (a discount). The Fund will only issue or redeem shares that have been aggregated into blocks of 50,000 shares or multiples thereof (“Creation Units”) to Authorized Participants who have entered into agreements with the Fund's distributor. The Fund generally will issue or redeem Creation Units in return for a designated portfolio of securities (and an amount of cash) that the Fund specifies each day.
Tax Information
The Fund intends to make distributions that may be taxable to you as ordinary income or capital gains, unless you are investing through a tax-deferred arrangement such as a 401(k) plan or an IRA, in which case, your distributions generally will be taxed when withdrawn.
Payments to Broker-Dealers and Other Financial Intermediaries
If you purchase shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary (such as a bank), BFA or other related companies may pay the intermediary for marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems or other services related to the sale or promotion of the Fund. These payments may create a conflict of interest by influencing the broker-dealer or other intermediary and your salesperson to recommend the Fund over another investment. Ask your salesperson or visit your financial intermediary’s website for more information.
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More Information About the Fund
This Prospectus contains important information about investing in the Fund. Please read this Prospectus carefully before you make any investment decisions. Additional information regarding the Fund is available at www.iShares.com.
BFA is the investment adviser to the Fund. Shares of the Fund are listed for trading on Cboe BZX Exchange, Inc. (“Cboe BZX”). The market price for a share of the Fund may be different from the Fund’s most recent NAV.
ETFs are funds that trade like other publicly-traded securities. The Fund is designed to track an index. Similar to shares of an index mutual fund, each share of the Fund represents an ownership interest in an underlying portfolio of securities and other instruments intended to track a market index. Unlike shares of a mutual fund, which can be bought and redeemed from the issuing fund by all shareholders at a price based on NAV, shares of the Fund may be purchased or redeemed directly from the Fund at NAV solely by Authorized Participants and only in Creation Unit increments. Also unlike shares of a mutual fund, shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange and trade in the secondary market at market prices that change throughout the day.
The Fund invests in a particular segment of the securities markets and seeks to track the performance of a currency hedged securities index that is not representative of the market as a whole. The Fund is designed to be used as part of broader asset allocation strategies. Accordingly, an investment in the Fund should not constitute a complete investment program.
An index is a financial calculation, based on a grouping of financial instruments, and is not an investment product, while the Fund is an actual investment portfolio. The performance of the Fund and the Underlying Index may vary for a number of reasons, including transaction costs, non-U.S. currency valuations, asset valuations, corporate actions (such as mergers and spin-offs), timing variances and differences between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index resulting from the Fund's use of representative sampling or from legal restrictions (such as diversification requirements) that apply to the Fund but not to the Underlying Index. From time to time, the Index Provider may make changes to the methodology or other adjustments to the Underlying Index. Unless otherwise determined by BFA, any such change or adjustment will be reflected in the calculation of the Underlying Index performance on a going-forward basis after the effective date of such change or adjustment. Therefore, the Underlying Index performance shown for periods prior to the effective date of any such change or adjustment will generally not be recalculated or restated to reflect such change or adjustment.
“Tracking error” is the divergence of the Fund's performance from that of the Underlying Index. BFA expects that, over time, the Fund’s tracking error will not exceed 5%. Because the Fund uses a representative sampling indexing strategy, it can be expected to have a larger tracking error than if it used a replication indexing strategy. “Replication” is an indexing strategy in which a fund invests in substantially all of the
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securities in its underlying index in approximately the same proportions as in the underlying index.
Under continuous listing standards adopted by the Fund's listing exchange, the Fund is required to confirm on an ongoing basis that the components of the Underlying Index satisfy the applicable listing requirements. In the event that the Underlying Index does not comply with the applicable listing requirements, the Fund is required to rectify such non-compliance by requesting that the Index Provider modify the Underlying Index, adopting a new underlying index, or obtaining relief from the SEC. Failure to rectify such non-compliance may result in the Fund being delisted by the listing exchange.
An investment in the Fund is not a bank deposit and it is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency, BFA or any of its affiliates.
The Fund's investment objective and the Underlying Index may be changed without shareholder approval.
A Further Discussion of Principal Risks
The Fund is subject to various risks, including the principal risks noted below, any of which may adversely affect the Fund’s NAV, trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. The Fund may be exposed to these risks directly or indirectly through the Fund's investments in the Underlying Fund. You could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund could underperform other investments. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Asian Economic Risk. Many Asian economies have experienced rapid growth and industrialization in recent years, but there is no assurance that this growth rate will be maintained. Other Asian economies, however, have experienced high inflation, high unemployment, currency devaluations and restrictions, and over-extension of credit. Geopolitical hostility, political instability, and economic or environmental events in any one Asian country may have a significant economic effect on the entire Asian region, as well as on major trading partners outside Asia. Any adverse event in the Asian markets may have a significant adverse effect on some or all of the economies of the countries in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests. Many Asian countries are subject to political risk, including political instability, corruption and regional conflict with neighboring countries. 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 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. In addition, many Asian countries are subject to social and labor risks associated with demands for improved political, economic and social conditions. These risks, among others, may adversely affect the value of the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's investments.
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Asset Class Risk. The securities and other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's portfolio may underperform in comparison to other securities or indexes that track other countries, groups of countries, regions, industries, groups of industries, markets, asset classes or sectors. Various types of securities, currencies and indexes may experience cycles of outperformance and underperformance in comparison to the general financial markets depending upon a number of factors including, among other things, inflation, interest rates, productivity, global demand for local products or resources, and regulation and governmental controls. This may cause the Fund to underperform other investment vehicles that invest in different asset classes.
Assets Under Management (AUM) Risk. From time to time, an Authorized Participant, a third-party investor, the Fund’s adviser or an affiliate of the Fund’s adviser, or a fund may invest in the Fund and hold its investment for a specific period of time to allow the Fund to achieve size or scale. There can be no assurance that any such entity would not redeem its investment or that the size of the Fund would be maintained at such levels, which could negatively impact the Fund.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund, and none of those Authorized Participants is obligated to engage in creation and/or redemption transactions. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as Authorized Participants on an agency basis (i.e., on behalf of other market participants). To the extent that Authorized Participants exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units, Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium or discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts or delisting. Authorized Participant concentration risk may be heightened because ETFs, such as the Fund, that invest in securities issued by non-U.S. issuers or other securities or instruments that are less widely traded often involve greater settlement and operational issues and capital costs for Authorized Participants, which may limit the availability of Authorized Participants.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class. The Fund may be more adversely affected by the underperformance of those securities, may experience increased price volatility and may be more susceptible to adverse economic, market, political or regulatory occurrences affecting those securities than a fund that does not concentrate its investments.
Currency Hedging Risk. When a derivative is used as a hedge against a position that the Fund or the Underlying Fund holds, 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. Hedges are sometimes subject to imperfect matching between the derivative and its reference asset, and there can be no assurance that the Fund’s hedging transactions, when
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implemented, will be effective. In seeking to track the “hedging” component of the Underlying Index, the Fund invests in currency forward contracts, (which may include both physically-settled forward contracts and NDFs) designed to hedge the currency exposure of non-U.S. dollar denominated securities held in its portfolio (directly or indirectly through its investment in the Underlying Fund). NDFs may be less liquid than deliverable currency forward contracts and require the Fund to post variation margin to the counterparty, which can increase costs for the Fund. A lack of liquidity in NDFs of the hedged currency could result in the Fund being unable to structure its hedging transactions as intended. In addition, BFA may seek to limit the size of the Fund in order to attempt to reduce the likelihood of a situation where the Fund is unable to obtain sufficient liquidity in an underlying currency hedge to implement its investment objective.
Currency forward contracts, including NDFs, do not eliminate movements in the value of non-U.S. currencies and securities but rather allow the Fund to establish a fixed rate of exchange for a future point in time. Exchange rates may be volatile and may change quickly and unpredictably in response to both global economic developments and economic conditions in a geographic region in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests. In addition, in order to minimize transaction costs, or for other reasons, the Fund’s exposure to the non-U.S. dollar component currencies may not be fully hedged to the extent indicated by the Hedge Ratio, as determined by the indicators described in the Fund's principal investment strategies or the hedge may not be effective due to counterparty failures or otherwise. At certain times, the Fund may use an optimized hedging strategy and will hedge a smaller number of non-U.S. dollar component currencies to reduce hedging costs. Governments from time to time may intervene in the currency markets to influence prices and may adopt policies designed to influence foreign exchange rates with respect to their currency. Because the Fund’s currency hedge is reset on a monthly basis, currency risk can develop or increase intra-month. Furthermore, while the Fund is designed to hedge against currency fluctuations, it is possible that a degree of currency exposure may remain even at the time a hedging transaction is implemented. As a result, the Fund may not be able to structure its hedging transactions as anticipated or its hedging transactions may not successfully reduce the currency risk included in the Fund’s portfolio in a way that tracks the Underlying Index. Because currency forwards are over-the-counter instruments, the Fund is subject to counterparty risk as well as market or liquidity risk with respect to the hedging transactions the Fund enters into. Currency hedging activity exposes the Fund to credit risk due to counterparty exposure. This risk will be higher to the extent that the Fund trades with a single counterparty or small number of counterparties. In addition, the Fund’s currency hedging activities may involve frequent trading of currency instruments, which may increase transaction costs and cause the Fund’s return to deviate from the Underlying Index.
There is no assurance that the Fund’s strategy will be effective in hedging fluctuations in the value of these currencies against the U.S. dollar. The effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy will in general be affected by the volatility of both the Underlying Index and the volatility of the U.S. dollar relative to the currencies to be hedged, measured on an aggregate basis. Increased volatility will generally reduce the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy as calculated by MSCI. In
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addition, volatility in one or more of the currencies may offset stability in another currency and reduce the overall effectiveness of the hedges. The effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy may also be affected by interest rates, which may differ among the affected countries. Significant differences between U.S. dollar interest rates and some or all of the applicable foreign currency interest rates may impact the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging strategy. In addition, the currency hedging carried out by the Fund may result in lower returns than those generated through direct investments in the securities comprising the Underlying Index or in the index tracked by the Underlying Fund when the local currency appreciates against the U.S. dollar.
Investors, such as the Fund, seeking to trade in foreign currencies may have limited access to certain currency markets due to a variety of factors, including government regulations, adverse tax treatment, exchange controls, currency convertibility issues and lack of market liquidity. These limitations and restrictions may impact the availability, liquidity and pricing of the financial instruments that are necessary for the Fund to hedge exposure to the currency markets. If the Fund’s ability to enter into contracts to purchase or sell the currency of a non-U.S. market in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests is impaired, the Fund may not be able to achieve its investment objective. In addition, investments in currency forwards expose the Fund to the risks described under “Derivatives Risk.”
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's NAVs are determined on the basis of the U.S. dollar, investors may lose money if the currency of one or more of the non-U.S. markets in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of such currency and the depreciation of one currency is not offset by appreciation in another currency and/or the Fund’s attempt to hedge currency exposure to the currency or currencies is unsuccessful. Similarly, because the Fund seeks to hedge currency risk in accordance with the Underlying Index, investors may not share in appreciation in the securities comprising the Underlying Index to the extent that such appreciation is due to increases in the value of the underlying currencies. In addition, fluctuations in the exchange rates of currencies could affect the economy or particular business operations of companies in a geographic region in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests, causing an adverse impact on the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund’s investments in the affected region and the U.S. that is separate from the value of the underlying currency or currencies and, therefore, unmitigated by the hedging strategy used by the Fund. The hedged currencies may also perform inversely to each other. If this is the case, investors may experience better performance with a fund that is unhedged from a currency perspective than one that is hedged or partially hedged from a currency perspective, as is the case with the Fund. As a result, investors in the Fund have the potential for losses regardless of the length of time they intend to hold Fund shares and regardless of the effectiveness of the Fund’s currency hedging transactions. The performance of the Fund may be materially better or worse than the performance of the Underlying Fund due primarily to the Fund's attempt to hedge its foreign currency exposure. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the Fund’s NAV may change quickly and without warning.
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Cybersecurity Risk. With the increased use of technologies such as the internet to conduct business, the Fund, the Underlying Fund, Authorized Participants, service providers and the relevant listing exchange are susceptible to operational, information security and related “cyber” risks both directly and through their service providers. Similar types of cybersecurity risks are also present for issuers of securities in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests, which could result in material adverse consequences for such issuers and may cause the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's investment in such portfolio companies to lose value. Unlike many other types of risks faced by the Fund and the Underlying Fund, these risks typically are not covered by insurance. In general, cyber incidents can result from deliberate attacks or unintentional events. Cyber incidents include, but are not limited to, gaining unauthorized access to digital systems (e.g., through “hacking” or malicious software coding) for purposes of misappropriating assets or sensitive information, corrupting data, or causing operational disruption. Cyberattacks may also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as causing denial-of-service attacks on websites (i.e., efforts to make network services unavailable to intended users). Recently, geopolitical tensions may have increased the scale and sophistication of deliberate attacks, particularly those from nation-states or from entities with nation-state backing.
Cybersecurity failures by or breaches of the systems of the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's adviser, distributor and other service providers (including, but not limited to, index and benchmark providers, fund accountants, custodians, transfer agents and administrators), market makers, Authorized Participants, hedging counterparties to the Fund or the issuers of securities in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests, have the ability to cause disruptions and impact business operations, potentially resulting in: financial losses, interference with the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's ability to calculate its NAV, disclosure of confidential trading information, impediments to trading, submission of erroneous trades or erroneous creation or redemption orders, the inability of the Fund, the Underlying Fund or their service providers to transact business, violations of applicable privacy and other laws, regulatory fines, penalties, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensation costs, or additional compliance costs. In addition, cyberattacks may render records of Fund assets and transactions, shareholder ownership of Fund shares, and other data integral to the functioning of the Fund or the Underlying Fund inaccessible or inaccurate or incomplete. Substantial costs may be incurred by the Fund or the Underlying Fund in order to resolve or prevent cyber incidents in the future. While the Fund and the Underlying Fund has established business continuity plans in the event of, and risk management systems to prevent, such cyber incidents, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems, including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified and that prevention and remediation efforts will not be successful or that cyberattacks will go undetected. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cybersecurity plans and systems put in place by service providers to the Fund, issuers in which the Fund invests, the Index Provider, hedging counterparties to the Fund, market makers or Authorized Participants. The Fund and its shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result.
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Derivatives Risk. The Fund uses deliverable currency forwards and NDFs to hedge the currency exposure resulting from investments in foreign currency-denominated securities held by the Fund or the Underlying Fund. The Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's use of these instruments, like investments in other derivatives, may reduce the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's returns, increase volatility and/or result in losses due to credit risk or ineffective hedging strategies. Volatility is defined as the characteristic of a security, a currency, an index or a market, to fluctuate significantly in price within a defined period. Currency forwards, like other derivatives, are also subject to counterparty risk, which is the risk that the other party in the transaction will not fulfill its contractual obligation. A risk of the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's use of derivatives is that the fluctuations in their values may not correlate perfectly with the currency or currencies being hedged. The possible lack of a liquid secondary market for derivatives and the resulting inability of the Fund or the Underlying Fund to sell or otherwise close a derivatives position could expose the Fund to losses and could make derivatives more difficult for the Fund or the Underlying Fund to value accurately. The Fund or the Underlying Fund could also suffer losses related to its derivatives positions as a result of unanticipated market movements, which losses are potentially unlimited. BFA’s use of derivatives is not intended to predict the direction of securities prices, currency exchange rates, interest rates and other economic factors, which could cause the Fund’s derivatives positions to lose value. Derivatives may give rise to a form of leverage and may expose the Fund or the Underlying Fund to greater risk and increase its costs. Regulatory requirements affecting the use of derivatives may make derivatives more costly, and may delay or restrict the exercise of remedies by the Fund upon a counterparty default under derivatives held by the Fund (which could result in losses).
Equity Securities Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund each invest in equity securities, which are subject to changes in value that may be attributable to market perception of a particular issuer or to general stock market fluctuations that affect all issuers. Investments in equity securities may be more volatile than investments in other asset classes. The Underlying Index is comprised of common stocks, which generally subject their holders to more risks than preferred stocks and debt securities because common stockholders' claims are subordinated to those of holders of preferred stocks and debt securities upon the bankruptcy of the issuer.
European Economic Risk. The EU requires compliance by member states with restrictions on inflation rates, deficits, interest rates and debt levels, as well as fiscal and monetary controls, each of which may significantly affect every country in Europe, including those countries that are not members of the EU. Changes in imports or exports, changes in governmental or EU regulations on trade, changes in the exchange rate of the euro (the common currency of certain EU countries), 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. The European financial markets have historically experienced volatility and adverse trends due to concerns about economic downturns or rising government debt levels in several European countries, including, but not limited to, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal,
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Spain and Ukraine. These events have adversely affected the exchange rate of the euro and may continue to significantly affect European countries.
Responses to 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, may limit future growth and economic recovery or may 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. In a referendum held on June 23, 2016, the U.K. resolved to leave the EU (“Brexit”). The referendum has introduced significant uncertainties and instability in the financial markets as the U.K. negotiates its exit from the EU. The outcome of negotiations remains uncertain. U.K. and European businesses are increasingly preparing for a disorderly Brexit, and the consequences for European and U.K. businesses could be severe. The Fund will face risks associated with the potential uncertainty and consequences leading up to and 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 the Fund has exposure and any other assets in which the Fund invests. 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 rises and falls in value. In the longer term, there is likely to be a period of significant political, regulatory and commercial uncertainty as the U.K. seeks to negotiate its long-term exit from the EU and the terms of its future trading relationships.
Secessionist movements, such as the Catalan movement in Spain and the independence movement in Scotland, as well as governmental or other responses to such movements, may also create instability and uncertainty in the region. In addition, the national politics of countries in the EU have been unpredictable and subject to influence by disruptive political groups and ideologies. The governments of EU 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 also could impact financial markets. The impact of these events is not clear but could be significant and far-reaching and could adversely affect the value and liquidity of the Fund's investments.
Financials Sector Risk. Companies in the financials sector of an economy are subject to extensive governmental regulation and intervention, which may adversely affect the scope of their activities, the prices they can charge, the amount of capital they must
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maintain and, potentially, their size. The extent to which the Fund may invest in a company that engages in securities-related activities or banking is limited by applicable law. Governmental regulation may change frequently and may have significant adverse consequences for companies in the financials sector, including effects not intended by such regulation. Recently enacted legislation in the U.S. has relaxed capital requirements and other regulatory burdens on certain U.S. banks. While the effect of the legislation may benefit certain companies in the financials sector, increased risk taking by affected banks may also result in greater overall risk in the U.S. and global financials sector. The impact of changes in capital requirements, or recent or future regulation in various countries, on any individual financial company or on the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. Certain risks may impact the value of investments in the financials sector more severely than those of investments outside this sector, including the risks associated with companies that operate with substantial financial leverage. Companies in the financials sector may also be adversely affected by increases in interest rates and loan losses, decreases in the availability of money or asset valuations, credit rating downgrades and adverse conditions in other related markets. Insurance companies, in particular, may be subject to severe price competition and/or rate regulation, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability. The financials sector is particularly sensitive to fluctuations in interest rates. The financials sector is also a target for cyberattacks, and may experience technology malfunctions and disruptions. In recent years, cyberattacks and technology malfunctions and failures have become increasingly frequent in this sector and have reportedly caused losses to companies in this sector, which may negatively impact the Fund.
Geographic Risk. Some of the companies in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests are located in parts of the world that have historically been prone to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, droughts, floods, hurricanes or tsunamis, and are economically sensitive to environmental events. Any such event may adversely impact the economies of these geographic areas or business operations of companies in these geographic areas, causing an adverse impact on the value of the Fund.
Index-Related Risk. The Fund seeks to achieve a return that corresponds generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Underlying Index as published by the Index Provider. There is no assurance that the Index Provider or any agents that may act on its behalf will compile the Underlying Index accurately, or that the Underlying Index will be determined, composed or calculated accurately. While the Index Provider provides descriptions of what the Underlying Index is designed to achieve, neither the Index Provider nor its agents provide any warranty or accept any liability in relation to the quality, accuracy or completeness of the Underlying Index or its related data, and they do not guarantee that the Underlying Index will be in line with the Index Provider’s methodology. BFA’s mandate as described in this Prospectus is to manage the Fund consistently with the Underlying Index provided by the Index Provider to BFA. BFA does not provide any warranty or guarantee against the Index Provider’s or any agent’s errors. Errors in respect of the quality, accuracy and completeness of the data used to compile the Underlying Index may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all,
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particularly where the indices are less commonly used as benchmarks by funds or managers. Such errors may negatively or positively impact the Fund and its shareholders. For example, during a period where the Underlying Index contains incorrect constituents, the Fund would have market exposure to such constituents and would be underexposed to the Underlying Index’s other constituents. Shareholders should understand that any gains from Index Provider errors will be kept by the Fund and its shareholders and any losses or costs resulting from Index Provider errors will be borne by the Fund and its shareholders.
Apart from scheduled rebalances, the Index Provider or its agents may carry out additional ad hoc rebalances to the Underlying Index in order, for example, to correct an error in the selection of index constituents. When the Underlying Index is rebalanced and the Fund in turn rebalances its portfolio to attempt to increase the correlation between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index, any transaction costs and market exposure arising from such portfolio rebalancing will be borne directly by the Fund and its shareholders. Therefore, errors and additional ad hoc rebalances carried out by the Index Provider or its agents to the Underlying Index may increase the costs to and the tracking error risk of the Fund.
Similar risks exist for the Underlying Fund in tracking its benchmark, which may result in the Fund's performance deviating from the return of the Underlying Index.
Investment in Underlying Fund Risk. The Fund expects to invest a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund, so the Fund’s investment performance is likely to be directly related to the performance of the Underlying Fund. The Fund may also invest in other funds, including money market funds. The Fund’s NAV will change with changes in the value of the Underlying Fund and other instruments in which the Fund invests based on their market valuations. An investment in the Fund will entail more direct and indirect costs and expenses than a direct investment in the Underlying Fund, including as a result of the currency hedging activity conducted by the Fund. For example, in addition to the expenses of the Fund, the Fund indirectly pays a portion of the expenses (including operating expenses and management fees) incurred by the Underlying Fund, although some of such fees will be offset by the fee waiver by BFA.
An investor in the Fund may receive taxable gains from portfolio transactions by the Underlying Fund, as well as taxable gains from transactions in shares of the Underlying Fund held by the Fund. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may also hold common portfolio securities.
As the Fund's allocation to the Underlying Fund changes from time to time, or to the extent that the total annual fund operating expenses of the Underlying Fund changes, the weighted average operating expenses borne by the Fund may increase or decrease.
The Fund seeks to hedge the currency exposure of the instruments held by the Underlying Fund. The indirect nature of the holdings may make the hedging more difficult to achieve, and the Fund may be unable to accurately hedge currency exposure inherent in the Underlying Fund.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities and other instruments to which the Fund or the Underlying Fund has
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exposure. Any issuer of these securities or counterparty on other instruments may perform poorly, causing the value of its securities or instruments to decline. Poor performance may be caused by poor management decisions, competitive pressures, changes in technology, expiration of patent protection, disruptions in supply, labor problems or shortages, corporate restructurings, fraudulent disclosures, credit deterioration of the issuer or other factors. Issuers may, in times of distress or at their own discretion, decide to reduce or eliminate dividends, which may also cause their stock prices to decline. An issuer may also be subject to risks associated with the countries, states and regions in which the issuer resides, invests, sells products, or otherwise conducts operations.
Large-Capitalization Companies Risk. Large-capitalization companies may be less able than smaller capitalization companies to adapt to changing market conditions. Large-capitalization companies may be more mature and subject to more limited growth potential compared with smaller capitalization companies. During different market cycles, the performance of large-capitalization companies has trailed the overall performance of the broader securities markets.
Management Risk. Because BFA uses a representative sampling indexing strategy, the Fund will not fully replicate the Underlying Index and may hold securities and other instruments not included in the Underlying Index. As a result, the Fund is subject to the risk that BFA’s investment strategy, the implementation of which is subject to a number of constraints, may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns. The value of a security, asset or other instrument may decline due to changes in general market conditions, economic trends or events that are not specifically related to the issuer of the security or asset, or factors that affect a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class. During a general market downturn, multiple asset classes may be negatively affected. Changes in market conditions and interest rates generally do not have the same impact on all types of securities and instruments.
Market Trading Risk
Absence of Active Market. Although shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund are listed for trading on one or more stock exchanges, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained by market makers or Authorized Participants.
Risk of Secondary Listings. The Fund's and the Underlying Fund's shares may be listed or traded on U.S. and non-U.S. stock exchanges other than the U.S. stock exchange where the Fund's primary listing is maintained, and may otherwise be made available to non-U.S. investors through funds or structured investment vehicles similar to depositary receipts. There can be no assurance that the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's shares will continue to trade on any such stock exchange or in any market or that the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's shares will continue to meet the requirements for listing or trading on any exchange or in any market. The Fund's or the Underlying Fund's shares may be less actively traded in certain markets than in others, and
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investors are subject to the execution and settlement risks and market standards of the market where they or their broker direct their trades for execution. Certain information available to investors who trade Fund or Underlying Fund shares on a U.S. stock exchange during regular U.S. market hours may not be available to investors who trade in other markets, which may result in secondary market prices in such markets being less efficient.
Secondary Market Trading Risk. Shares of the Fund or the Underlying Fund may trade in the secondary market at times when the Fund or the Underlying Fund does not accept orders to purchase or redeem shares. At such times, shares may trade in the secondary market with more significant premiums or discounts than might be experienced at times when the Fund or the Underlying Fund accepts purchase and redemption orders. If the Fund purchases shares of the Underlying Fund at a time when the market price of Underlying Fund shares is at a premium to their NAV or sells Underlying Fund shares when their market price is at a discount to their NAV, the Fund may incur losses.
Secondary market trading in Fund or Underlying Fund shares may be halted by a stock exchange because of market conditions or for other reasons. In addition, trading in Fund or Underlying Fund shares on a stock exchange or in any market may be subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to “circuit breaker” rules on the stock exchange or market.
Shares of the Fund, similar to shares of other issuers listed on a stock exchange, may be sold short and are therefore subject to the risk of increased volatility and price decreases associated with being sold short.
Shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund May Trade at Prices Other Than NAV. Shares of the Fund and the Underlying Fund each trade on stock exchanges at prices at, above or below the Fund’s most recent NAV. The NAV of the Fund and the Underlying Fund are calculated at the end of each business day and fluctuate with changes in the market value of the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's holdings. The trading price of each of the Fund's and the Underlying Fund's shares fluctuates continuously throughout trading hours based on both market supply of and demand for their shares and the underlying value of their portfolio holdings or NAV. As a result, the trading prices of the Fund’s and the Underlying Fund's shares may deviate significantly from NAV during periods of market volatility. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S OR THE UNDERLYING FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV. However, because shares can be created and redeemed in Creation Units at NAV, BFA believes that large discounts or premiums to the NAV of the Fund or the Underlying Fund, as applicable, are not likely to be sustained over the long term (unlike shares of many closed-end funds, which frequently trade at appreciable discounts from, and sometimes at premiums to, their NAVs). However, BFA may seek to limit the size of the Fund in order to attempt to mitigate the likelihood of a situation where the Fund is unable to obtain sufficient liquidity in an underlying currency hedge to implement its investment objective, including by recommending that the Fund limit purchases of Fund shares through Creation Unit transactions. If the Fund elects to impose limitations on creation transactions, Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium to NAV in the
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secondary market. While the creation/redemption feature is designed to make it more likely that the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's shares normally will trade on stock exchanges at prices close to the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's next calculated NAV, exchange prices are not expected to correlate exactly with the NAV due to timing reasons, supply and demand imbalances and other factors. In addition, disruptions to creations and redemptions, including disruptions at market makers, Authorized Participants, or other market participants, and during periods of significant market volatility, may result in trading prices for shares of the Fund or the Underlying Fund that differ significantly from their respective NAV. Authorized Participants may be less willing to create or redeem Fund or Underlying Fund shares if there is a lack of an active market for such shares or its underlying investments, which may contribute to the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's shares trading at a premium or discount to NAV.
Costs of Buying or Selling Fund Shares. Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange involves two types of costs that apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you will likely incur a brokerage commission and other charges. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread”; that is, the difference between what investors are willing to pay for Fund shares (the “bid” price) and the price at which they are willing to sell Fund shares (the “ask” price). The spread, which varies over time for shares of the Fund based on trading volume and market liquidity, is generally narrower if the Fund has more trading volume and market liquidity and wider if the Fund has less trading volume and market liquidity. In addition, increased market volatility may cause wider spreads. There may also be regulatory and other charges that are incurred as a result of trading activity. Because of the costs inherent in buying or selling Fund shares, frequent trading may detract significantly from investment results and an investment in Fund shares may not be advisable for investors who anticipate regularly making small investments through a brokerage account.
Mid-Capitalization Companies Risk. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies may be more volatile than those of large-capitalization companies and, therefore, the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's respective share price may be more volatile than those 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 difficult for the Fund or the Underlying Fund 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.
Middle Eastern Economic Risk. Many Middle Eastern countries have little or no democratic tradition and the political and legal systems in such countries may adversely impact the companies in which the Fund invests and, as a result, the value of the Fund. Middle Eastern governments have exercised and continue to exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector. Many economies in the Middle East are highly reliant on income from the sale of oil or trade with countries
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involved in the sale of oil, and their economies are therefore vulnerable to changes in the market for oil and foreign currency values. As global demand for oil fluctuates, many Middle Eastern economies may be significantly impacted. A sustained decrease in commodity prices could have a significant negative impact on all aspects of the economy in the region. Middle Eastern economies may be subject to acts of terrorism, political strife, religious, ethnic or socioeconomic unrest and sudden outbreaks of hostilities with neighboring countries.
Certain Middle Eastern countries have strained relations with other Middle Eastern countries due to territorial disputes, historical animosities, international alliances, religious tensions or defense concerns, which may adversely affect the economies of these countries. Certain Middle Eastern countries experience significant unemployment, as well as widespread underemployment.
Many Middle Eastern countries periodically have experienced political, economic and social unrest as protestors have called for widespread reform. Some of these protests have resulted in a governmental regime change, internal conflict or civil war. If further regime changes were to occur, internal conflict were to intensify, or a civil war were to continue in any of these countries, such instability could adversely affect the economies of Middle Eastern countries in which the Fund invests and could decrease the value of the Fund’s investments.
Model Risk. Neither the Fund nor BFA can offer assurances that the allocation and hedging model used to calculate the Underlying Index will achieve its intended results.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund or the Underlying Fund trade on foreign exchanges or in foreign markets that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks of investing in the markets where such issuers are located, including heightened risks of inflation, nationalization and market fluctuations caused by economic and political developments. As a result of investing in non-U.S. securities, the Fund or the Underlying Fund may be subject to increased risk of loss caused by any of the factors listed below:
A lack of market liquidity and market efficiency;
Greater securities price volatility;
Exchange rate fluctuations and exchange controls;
Less availability of public information about issuers;
Limitations on foreign ownership of securities;
Imposition of withholding or other taxes;
Imposition of restrictions on the expatriation of the funds or other assets of the Fund;
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Higher transaction and custody costs and delays in settlement procedures;
Difficulties in enforcing contractual obligations;
Lower levels of regulation of the securities markets;
Weaker accounting, disclosure and reporting requirements; and
Legal principles relating to corporate governance, directors’ fiduciary duties and liabilities and stockholders’ rights in markets in which the Fund invests may differ from and/or may not be as extensive or protective as those that apply in the U.S.
Operational Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are exposed to operational risks arising from a number of factors, including, but not limited to, human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund, the Underlying Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate to address significant operational risks.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund are not actively managed and may be affected by a general decline in market segments related to the Underlying Index. The Fund invests in securities and other instruments included in, or representative of, the Underlying Index, regardless of their investment merits. BFA generally does not attempt to invest the Fund's assets in defensive positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. The economies of some countries or regions in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests are dependent on trading with certain key trading partners. Reduction in spending on the products and services of these countries or regions, institution of tariffs or other trade barriers by any of their key trading partners or a slowdown in the economies of any of their key trading partners may cause an adverse impact on the economies of such countries or regions.
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. Investment in developed country issuers may subject the Fund or the Underlying Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, economic and other risks associated with developed countries. Developed countries generally tend to rely on services sectors (e.g., the financial services sector) as the primary means of economic growth. A prolonged slowdown in one or more services sectors is likely to have a negative impact on economies of certain developed countries, although economies of individual developed countries can be impacted by slowdowns in other sectors. In the past, certain developed countries have been targets of terrorism, and some geographic areas in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund invests have experienced strained international relations due to territorial disputes, historical animosities, defense concerns and other security concerns. These situations may cause uncertainty in the financial markets in these countries or geographic areas and may adversely affect the performance of the issuers to which the Fund or the Underlying Fund has exposure. Heavy regulation of certain markets, including 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. Many developed countries are heavily indebted and face rising healthcare and retirement
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expenses. In addition, price fluctuations of certain commodities and regulations impacting the import of commodities may negatively affect developed country economies.
Risk of Investing in Japan. Japan may be subject to political, economic, nuclear, and labor risks, among others. Any of these risks, individually or in the aggregate, can impact an investment made in Japan.
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 in the past 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 and other commodity imports, and higher commodity prices could therefore have a negative impact on 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 the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's investments. In addition, China has become an important trading partner with Japan. Japan's political relationship with China, however, is strained and delicate. Should political tension increase, it could adversely affect the Japanese economy and destabilize the region as a whole.
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.
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. The Japanese government 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.
Nuclear Energy Risk. The nuclear power plant catastrophe in Japan in March 2011 may have long-term effects on the Japanese economy and its nuclear energy industry, the extent of which are currently unknown.
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.
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 the value of the Fund.
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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 the U.K. Investment in U.K. issuers may subject the Fund and the Underlying Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, and economic risks specific to the U.K. The U.K.’s 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 may cause uncertainty in the U.K.’s financial markets and adversely affect the performance of the issuers to which the Fund or the Underlying 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. In a referendum held on June 23, 2016, the U.K. resolved to leave the EU (Brexit). The referendum has introduced significant uncertainties and instability in the financial markets as the U.K. negotiates its exit from the EU. The outcome of negotiations remains uncertain. U.K. and European businesses are increasingly preparing for a disorderly Brexit, and the consequences for European and U.K. businesses could be severe. The Fund will face risks associated with the potential uncertainty and consequences leading up to and 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 the Fund has exposure and any other assets that the 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 it has 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 rises and falls in value. In the longer term, there is likely to be a period of significant political, regulatory and commercial uncertainty as the U.K. seeks to negotiate its long-term exit from the EU and the terms of its future trading relationship.
Securities Lending Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund or the Underlying Fund may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund or the Underlying Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund or the Underlying Fund. BlackRock
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Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (“BTC”), the Fund's securities lending agent, will take into account the tax impact to shareholders of substitute payments for dividends when managing the Fund's securities lending program.
Small Fund Risk. When the Fund’s size is small, the Fund may experience low trading volume and wide bid/ask spreads. In addition, the Fund may face the risk of being delisted if the Fund does not meet certain conditions of the listing exchange. If the Fund were to be required to delist from the listing exchange, the value of the Fund may rapidly decline and performance may be negatively impacted. Any resulting liquidation of the Fund could cause the Fund to incur elevated transaction costs for the Fund and negative tax consequences for its shareholders.
Structural Risk. Certain political, economic, legal and currency risks could contribute to a high degree of price volatility in the equity markets of some of the countries in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund may invest and could adversely affect investments in the Fund or the Underlying Fund.
Political and Social Risk. Disparities of wealth, the pace and success of democratization and ethnic, religious and racial disaffection, among other factors, may exacerbate social unrest, violence and labor unrest in some of the countries in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund may invest. Unanticipated or sudden political or social developments may result in sudden and significant investment losses.
Economic Risk. Some countries in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund may invest may experience economic instability, including instability resulting from substantial rates of inflation or significant devaluations of their currency, or economic recessions, which would have a negative effect on the economies and securities markets of their economies. Some of these countries may also impose restrictions on the exchange or export of currency or adverse currency exchange rates and may be characterized by a lack of available currency hedging instruments.
Expropriation Risk. Investments in certain countries in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund may invest may be subject to loss due to expropriation or nationalization of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and repatriation of capital.
Large Government Debt Risk. Chronic structural public sector deficits in some countries in which the Fund or the Underlying Fund may invest may adversely impact securities held by the Fund or the Underlying Fund.
Tax Risk. Because the Fund invests in the Underlying Fund, the Fund’s realized losses on sales of shares of the Underlying Fund may be indefinitely or permanently deferred as “wash sales.” Distributions of short-term capital gains by the Underlying Fund will be recognized as ordinary income by the Fund and would not be offset by the Fund’s capital loss carryforwards, if any. Capital loss carryforwards of the Underlying Fund, if any, would not offset net capital gains of the Fund. Each of these effects is caused by the Fund’s investment in the Underlying Fund and may result in distributions to Fund shareholders being of higher magnitudes and less likely to qualify for lower capital gain tax rates than if the Fund were to invest directly in the securities and other instruments comprising the Underlying Index. The Fund invests in derivatives. The federal income tax treatment of a derivative may not be as favorable as a direct investment in an
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underlying asset. Derivatives may produce taxable income and taxable realized gain. Derivatives may adversely affect the timing, character and amount of income the Fund realizes from its investments. As a result, a larger portion of the Fund’s distributions may be treated as ordinary income rather than as capital gains. In addition, certain derivatives are subject to mark-to-market or straddle provisions of the Internal Revenue Code. If such provisions are applicable, there could be an increase (or decrease) in the amount of taxable dividends paid by the Fund. Income from swaps is generally taxable. In addition, the tax treatment of certain derivatives, such as swaps, is unsettled and may be subject to future legislation, regulation or administrative pronouncements issued by the IRS.
Tracking Error Risk. The Fund may be subject to tracking error, which is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities (including shares of the Underlying Fund) and other instruments held in the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences (including, as applicable, differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the Fund’s valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the Fund’s NAV), transaction and hedging costs incurred and forward rates achieved by the Fund, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or other distributions, the requirements to maintain pass-through tax treatment, portfolio transactions carried out to minimize the distribution of capital gains to shareholders, changes to the Underlying Index and the cost to the Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. These risks may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions in the affected securities and/or foreign exchange markets. In addition, tracking error may result because the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not, and because the Fund accepts creations and redemptions during time periods between which it is able to adjust its currency hedges, whereas the Underlying Index does not adjust its hedging during these periods. To the extent that the Fund seeks its investment objective through investments in the Underlying Fund, the Fund may experience increased tracking error as compared to investing directly in the component securities of the Underlying Index. The potential for increased tracking error may result from investments in the Underlying Fund due to, among other things, differences in the composition of the investment portfolio of the Underlying Fund as compared to the index tracked by the Underlying Fund and differences in the timing of the Fund’s valuation of: (i) the Underlying Fund and the currency forward contracts (each valued as of the close of the NYSE, typically 4:00 p.m., Eastern Time), (ii) the valuation of the securities in the Underlying Index (generally valued as of each security’s local market close) and (iii) the currency forward contracts included in the Underlying Index (generally valued at 4:00 p.m., London time).
U.S. Economic Risk. The U.S. is a significant, and in some cases the most significant, trading partner of, or foreign investor in, certain country or countries in which the Fund or the Underlying 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
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effect on the economic conditions of such countries and, as a result, securities to which the Fund or the Underlying Fund has exposure.
Valuation Risk. The price the Fund and the Underlying Fund could receive upon the sale of a security or unwind of a financial instrument or other asset may differ from the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's valuation of the security, instrument or other asset and from the value used by the Underlying Index, particularly for securities or other instruments that trade in low volume or volatile markets or that are valued using a fair value methodology as a result of trade suspensions or for other reasons. Because non-U.S. exchanges may be open on days when the Fund does not price its shares, the value of the securities or other instruments in the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's portfolio may change on days or during time periods when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's shares. In addition, for purposes of calculating the Fund's NAV, the value of assets denominated in non-U.S. currencies is converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. This conversion may result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the Fund's NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund's performance and the performance of the Underlying Index. Authorized Participants who purchase or redeem Fund shares on days when the Fund is holding fair-valued securities may receive fewer or more shares, or lower or higher redemption proceeds, than they would have received had the Fund not fair-valued securities or used a different valuation methodology. The Fund’s ability to value investments may be impacted by technological issues or errors by pricing services or other third-party service providers.
A Further Discussion of Other Risks
The Fund may also be subject to certain other risks associated with its investments and investment strategies either directly or indirectly through the Fund's investments in the Underlying Fund. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Australasian Economic Risk. The economies of Australasia, which include Australia and New Zealand, are dependent on exports from the energy, 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. Because the economies of Australasia are dependent on the economies of Asia, Europe and the U.S. as key trading partners and investors, reduction in spending by any of these trading partners on Australasian products and services, or negative changes in any of these economies, may cause an adverse impact on some or all of the Australasian economies. Economic events in the U.S., Asia, or in other key trading countries can have a significant economic effect on the Australian economy.
Close-Out Risk for Qualified Financial Contracts. Regulations adopted by global prudential regulators that are now in effect require counterparties that are part of U.S. or foreign global systemically important banking organizations to include contractual restrictions on close-out and cross-default in agreements relating to qualified financial
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contracts. Qualified financial contracts include agreements relating to swaps, currency forwards and other derivatives as well as repurchase agreements and securities lending agreements. The restrictions prevent the Fund from closing out a qualified financial contract during a specified time period if the counterparty is subject to resolution proceedings and prohibit the Fund from exercising default rights due to a receivership or similar proceeding of an affiliate of the counterparty. These requirements may increase credit risk and other risks to the Fund.
Communication Services Sector Risk. 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 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 often 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
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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.
Consumer Discretionary Sector Risk. The success of consumer product manufacturers and retailers is tied closely to the performance of domestic and international economies, interest rates, exchange rates, competition, consumer confidence, changes in demographics and consumer preferences. Companies in the consumer discretionary sector depend heavily on disposable household income and consumer spending, and may be strongly affected by social trends and marketing campaigns. These companies may be subject to severe competition, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability.
Consumer Staples Sector Risk. Companies in the consumer staples sector may be affected by the regulation of various product components and production methods, marketing campaigns and changes in the global economy, consumer spending and consumer demand. Tobacco companies, in particular, may be adversely affected by new laws, regulations and litigation. Companies in the consumer staples sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors. These companies may be subject to severe competition, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability.
Dividend Risk. There is no guarantee that issuers of the stocks held by the Fund will declare dividends in the future or that, if declared, such dividends will remain at current levels or increase over time.
Energy Sector Risk. The success of companies in the energy sector may be cyclical and highly dependent on energy prices. The market value of securities issued by companies in the energy sector may decline for the following reasons, among others: changes in the levels and volatility of global energy prices, energy supply and demand, and capital expenditures on exploration and production of energy sources; exchange rates, interest rates, economic conditions, and tax treatment; and energy conservation efforts, increased competition and technological advances. Companies in this sector may be subject to substantial government regulation and contractual fixed pricing, which may increase the cost of doing business and limit the earnings of these companies. A significant portion of the revenues of these companies may depend on a
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relatively small number of customers, including governmental entities and utilities. As a result, governmental budget constraints may have a material adverse effect on the stock prices of companies in this sector. Energy companies may also operate in, or engage in, transactions involving countries with less developed regulatory regimes or a history of expropriation, nationalization or other adverse policies. Energy companies also face a significant risk of liability from accidents resulting in injury or loss of life or property, pollution or other environmental problems, equipment malfunctions or mishandling of materials and a risk of loss from terrorism, political strife or natural disasters. Any such event could have serious consequences for the general population of the affected area and could have an adverse impact on the Fund’s or the Underlying Fund's portfolio and the performance of the Fund. Energy companies can be significantly affected by the supply of, and demand for, specific products (e.g., oil and natural gas) and services, exploration and production spending, government subsidization, world events and general economic conditions. Energy companies may have relatively high levels of debt and may be more likely than other companies to restructure their businesses if there are downturns in energy markets or in the global economy.
Healthcare Sector Risk. The profitability of companies in the healthcare sector may be adversely affected by the following factors, among others: extensive government regulations, restrictions on government reimbursement for medical expenses, rising 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. A number of issuers in the healthcare sector have recently merged or otherwise experienced consolidation. The effects of this trend toward consolidation are unknown and may be far-reaching. Many healthcare companies are heavily dependent on patent protection. The expiration of a company’s patents may adversely affect that company’s profitability. Many healthcare companies are subject 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, and such efforts ultimately may be unsuccessful. Companies in the healthcare sector may be thinly capitalized and may be susceptible to product obsolescence.
Illiquid Investments Risk. The Fund may invest up to an aggregate amount of 15% of its net assets in illiquid investments. An illiquid investment is any investment that the 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. To the extent the Fund holds illiquid investments, the illiquid investments may reduce the returns of the Fund because the Fund may be unable to transact at advantageous times or prices. An investment may be illiquid due to, among other things, the reduced number and capacity of traditional market participants to make a market in securities or instruments or the lack of an active market for such securities or instruments. To the extent that the Fund invests in securities or instruments with substantial market and/or credit risk, the Fund will tend to have increased exposure to the risks associated with illiquid investments. Liquid investments may become illiquid
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after purchase by the Fund, particularly during periods of market turmoil. There can be no assurance that a security or instrument that is deemed to be liquid when purchased will continue to be liquid for as long as it is held by the Fund, and any security or instrument held by the Fund may be deemed an illiquid investment pursuant to the Fund’s liquidity risk management program. Illiquid investments may be harder to value, especially in changing markets. Although the Fund primarily seeks to redeem shares of the Fund on an in-kind basis, if the Fund is forced to sell underlying investments at reduced prices or under unfavorable conditions to meet redemption requests or for other cash needs, the Fund may suffer a loss. This may be magnified in a rising interest rate environment or other circumstances where redemptions from the Fund may be greater than normal. Other market participants may be attempting to liquidate holdings at the same time as the Fund, causing increased supply of the Fund’s underlying investments in the market and contributing to illiquid investments risk and downward pricing pressure. During periods of market volatility, liquidity in the market for the Fund’s shares may be impacted by the liquidity in the market for the underlying securities or instruments held by the Fund, which could lead to the Fund’s shares trading at a premium or discount to the Fund’s NAV.
Industrials Sector Risk. The value of securities issued by companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by supply and demand changes related to their specific products or services and industrials sector products in general. The products of manufacturing companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction. Global events, trade disputes and changes in government regulations, economic conditions and exchange rates may adversely affect the performance of companies in the industrials sector. Companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. The industrials sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors. Companies in the industrials sector, particularly aerospace and defense companies, may also be adversely affected by government spending policies because companies in this sector tend to rely to a significant extent on government demand for their products and services.
Materials Sector Risk. Companies in the materials sector may be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, exchange rate fluctuations, social and political unrest, import controls, increased competition, depletion of resources, technical advances, labor relations, over-production, litigation and government regulations, among other factors. 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.
Technology Sector Risk. Technology companies, including information technology companies, face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on a company’s profit margins. Technology companies may have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or personnel. The products of technology companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments, frequent new product introduction, unpredictable changes in growth
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rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. Companies in the technology sector are heavily dependent on patent and other intellectual property rights. A technology company’s loss or impairment of these rights may adversely affect the company’s profitability. 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.
Threshold/Underinvestment Risk. If certain aggregate and/or fund-level ownership thresholds are reached through transactions undertaken by BFA, its affiliates or the Fund, or as a result of third-party transactions or actions by an issuer or regulator, the ability of BFA and its affiliates on behalf of clients (including the Fund) to purchase or dispose of investments, or exercise rights or undertake business transactions, may be restricted by regulation or otherwise impaired. The capacity of the Fund to make investments in certain securities may be affected by the relevant threshold limits, and such limitations may have adverse effects on the liquidity and performance of the Fund’s portfolio holdings compared to the performance of the Underlying Index. This may increase the risk of the Fund being underinvested to the Underlying Index and increase the risk of tracking error.
For example, in certain circumstances where the Fund invests in securities issued by companies that operate in certain regulated industries or in certain emerging or international markets, or is subject to corporate or regulatory ownership restrictions, or invests in certain futures or other derivative transactions, there may be limits on the aggregate and/or fund-level amount invested or voted by BFA and its affiliates for their proprietary accounts and for client accounts (including the Fund) that may not be exceeded without the grant of a license or other regulatory or corporate consent or, if exceeded, may cause BFA and its affiliates, the Fund or other client accounts to suffer disadvantages or business restrictions.
Portfolio Holdings Information
A description of the Trust's policies and procedures with respect to the disclosure of the Fund’s portfolio securities is available in the Fund's Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”). The top holdings of the Fund can be found at www.iShares.com. Fund fact sheets provide information regarding the Fund's top holdings and may be requested by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737).
A Further Discussion of Principal Investment Strategies
Overview
The Fund allocates and reallocates its assets among direct investments in securities and other instruments, and in investments in the Underlying Fund consistent with the allocation and reallocation of securities in the Underlying Index as determined by the Index Provider. The Fund invests in currency forward contracts designed to hedge non-U.S. currency fluctuations, inherent in the securities in the Underlying Index, based on MSCI’s calculation methodology. In addition, the Fund may borrow, lend its portfolio securities to brokers, dealers and financial institutions, and may invest the collateral in
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certain short-term instruments, either directly or through one or more money market funds, as described in greater detail in the Fund’s SAI.
The Underlying Fund
The Fund invests a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund, so the Fund’s investment performance is likely to be directly related to the performance of the Underlying Fund. The Fund’s NAV will change with changes in the value of the Underlying Fund and other instruments in which the Fund invests, subject to the impact of currency hedges, which may cause the Fund to outperform or underperform the return of the Underlying Fund. An investment in the Fund will entail more direct and indirect costs and expenses than a direct investment in the Underlying Fund. The Underlying Fund invests in non-U.S. securities without implementing a hedge of the local currency risk. This strategy is subject to additional risks, as described in this Prospectus and in the Fund’s SAI.
BFA is not required to invest the Fund’s assets in any particular underlying fund, including the Underlying Fund, or allocate any particular percentage of the Fund’s assets to any particular underlying fund, including the Underlying Fund. Currently, the Fund achieves its investment objective by investing a substantial portion of its assets in the Underlying Fund and in currency hedges.
The Underlying Fund seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the MSCI EAFE Index. The MSCI EAFE Index is a servicemark of the Index Provider and has been licensed for use for certain purposes by BFA or its affiliates. The Underlying Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold, or promoted by the Index Provider and the Index Provider makes no representation regarding the advisability of investing in the Underlying Fund or the Fund.
In managing the Underlying Fund, BFA uses a representative sampling index strategy. Representative sampling is an indexing strategy that involves investing in a representative sample of securities that collectively have an investment profile similar to a specified benchmark index. Securities selected for the Underlying Fund are expected to have, in the aggregate, investment characteristics (based on factors such as market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of the applicable underlying index. The Underlying Fund may or may not hold all of the securities that are included in its underlying index and may hold certain securities or other instruments that are not included in its underlying index or in the Underlying Index.
Management
Investment Adviser. As investment adviser, BFA has overall responsibility for the general management and administration of the Fund. BFA provides an investment program for the Fund and manages the investment of the Fund’s assets. In managing the Fund, BFA may draw upon the research and expertise of its asset management affiliates with respect to certain portfolio securities. In seeking to achieve the Fund's investment objective, BFA uses teams of portfolio managers, investment strategists
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and other investment specialists. This team approach brings together many disciplines and leverages BFA’s extensive resources.
Pursuant to the Investment Advisory Agreement between BFA and the Trust (entered into on behalf of the Fund), BFA is responsible for substantially all expenses of the Fund, except the management fees, interest expenses, taxes, expenses incurred with respect to the acquisition and disposition of portfolio securities and the execution of portfolio transactions, including brokerage commissions, distribution fees or expenses, litigation expenses and any extraordinary expenses (as determined by a majority of the Trustees who are not “interested persons” of the Trust).
For its investment advisory services to the Fund, BFA is paid a management fee from the Fund based on a percentage of the Fund's average daily net assets, at the annual rate of 0.38%. BFA has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees so that the Fund's total annual fund operating expenses after fee waiver is equal to the Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses attributable to the Fund's investment in EFA, after taking into account any fee waivers by EFA, plus 0.03% through November 30, 2020. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to November 30, 2020 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA. In addition, BFA may from time to time voluntarily waive and/or reimburse fees or expenses in order to limit total annual fund operating expenses (excluding Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any). Any such voluntary waiver or reimbursement may be eliminated by BFA at any time.
BFA is located at 400 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. It is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc. (“BlackRock”). As of September 30, 2019, BFA and its affiliates provided investment advisory services for assets in excess of $6.96 trillion. BFA and its affiliates trade and invest for their own accounts in the actual securities and types of securities in which the Fund may also invest, which may affect the price of such securities.
A discussion regarding the basis for the approval by the Trust's Board of Trustees (the “Board”) of the Investment Advisory Agreement with BFA is available in the Fund's Annual Report for the period ended July 31.
Portfolio Managers. Jennifer Hsui, Alan Mason, Orlando Montalvo and Greg Savage are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager is responsible for various functions related to portfolio management, including, but not limited to, investing cash inflows, coordinating with members of his or her portfolio management team to focus on certain asset classes, implementing investment strategy, researching and reviewing investment strategy and overseeing members of his or her portfolio management team that have more limited responsibilities.
Jennifer Hsui has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a senior portfolio manager since 2007. Prior to that, Ms. Hsui was a portfolio manager from 2006 to 2007 for Barclays Global Fund Advisors (“BGFA”). Ms. Hsui has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2016.
Alan Mason has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 1991. Mr. Mason has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2016.
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Orlando Montalvo has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a senior portfolio manager since 2009. Prior to that, Mr. Montalvo was a senior portfolio manager from 2005 to 2009 for BGFA. Mr. Montalvo has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2016.
Greg Savage has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a senior portfolio manager since 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Savage was a portfolio manager from 2001 to 2006 for BGFA. Mr. Savage has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2016.
The Fund's SAI provides additional information about the Portfolio Managers' compensation, other accounts managed by the Portfolio Managers and the Portfolio Managers' ownership (if any) of shares in the Fund.
Administrator, Custodian and Transfer Agent. State Street Bank and Trust Company (“State Street”) is the administrator, custodian and transfer agent for the Fund.
Conflicts of Interest. The investment activities of BFA and its affiliates (including BlackRock and its subsidiaries (collectively, the “Affiliates”)), The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (which, through a subsidiary, has a significant economic interest in BlackRock) and its subsidiaries (each with The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., an “Entity” and collectively, the “Entities”), and their respective directors, officers or employees, in the management of, or their interest in, their own accounts and other accounts they manage, may present conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA, its Affiliates and the Entities provide investment management services to other funds and discretionary managed accounts that may follow investment programs similar to that of the Fund. BFA, its Affiliates and the Entities are involved worldwide with a broad spectrum of financial services and asset management activities and may engage in the ordinary course of business in activities in which their interests or the interests of their clients may conflict with those of the Fund. BFA or one or more Affiliates or Entities act, or may act, as an investor, investment banker, research provider, investment manager, commodity pool operator, commodity trading advisor, financier, underwriter, adviser, market maker, trader, prime broker, lender, index provider, agent and/or principal, and have other direct and indirect interests in securities, currencies, commodities, derivatives and other instruments in which the Fund may directly or indirectly invest. Thus, it is likely that the Fund will have multiple business relationships with and will invest in, engage in transactions with, make voting decisions with respect to, or obtain services from, entities for which an Affiliate or an Entity performs or seeks to perform investment banking or other services. Specifically, the Fund may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies with which an Affiliate or an Entity has developed or is trying to develop investment banking relationships or in which an Affiliate or an Entity has significant debt or equity investments or other interests. The Fund may also invest in issuances (such as structured notes) by entities for which an Affiliate or an Entity provides and is compensated for cash management services relating to the proceeds from the sale of such issuances. The Fund also may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies for which an Affiliate or an Entity provides or may in the future provide research coverage. An Affiliate or an Entity may have business relationships with, and purchase or distribute or sell services
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or products from or to, distributors, consultants or others who recommend the Fund or who engage in transactions with or for the Fund, and may receive compensation for such services. The Fund may also make brokerage and other payments to Entities in connection with the Fund's portfolio investment transactions. BFA or one or more Affiliates or Entities may engage in proprietary trading and advise accounts and funds that have investment objectives similar to those of the Fund and/or that engage in and compete for transactions in the same types of securities, currencies and other instruments as the Fund. This may include transactions in securities issued by other open-end and closed-end investment companies (which may include investment companies that are affiliated with the Fund and BFA, to the extent permitted under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”)). The trading activities of BFA and these Affiliates or Entities are carried out without reference to positions held directly or indirectly by the Fund and may result in BFA or an Affiliate or an Entity having positions in certain securities that are senior or junior to, or have interests different from or adverse to, the securities that are owned by the Fund.
Neither BlackRock nor any Affiliate is under any obligation to share any investment opportunity, idea or strategy with the Fund. As a result, an Affiliate may compete with the Fund for appropriate investment opportunities. The results of the Fund's investment activities, therefore, may differ from those of an Affiliate and of other accounts managed by an Affiliate, and it is possible that the Fund could sustain losses during periods in which one or more Affiliates and other accounts achieve profits on their trading for proprietary or other accounts. The opposite result is also possible.
In addition, the Fund may, from time to time, enter into transactions in which BFA or an Affiliate or an Entity or its or their directors, officers or employees or other clients have an adverse interest. Furthermore, transactions undertaken by clients advised or managed by BFA, its Affiliates or Entities may adversely impact the Fund. Transactions by one or more clients or by BFA, its Affiliates or Entities or their directors, officers or employees, may have the effect of diluting or otherwise disadvantaging the values, prices or investment strategies of the Fund.
The Fund's activities may be limited because of regulatory restrictions applicable to BFA, one or more Affiliates or Entities and/or their internal policies designed to comply with such restrictions.
Under a securities lending program approved by the Board, the Fund has retained BTC, an Affiliate of BFA, to serve as the securities lending agent for the Fund to the extent that the Fund participates in the securities lending program. For these services, the securities lending agent will receive a fee from the Fund, including a fee based on the returns earned on the Fund’s investment of the cash received as collateral for the loaned securities. In addition, one or more Affiliates or Entities may be among the entities to which the Fund may lend its portfolio securities under the securities lending program.
The activities of BFA, its Affiliates and Entities and their respective directors, officers or employees, may give rise to other conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA has adopted policies and procedures designed to address these potential conflicts of interest. See the SAI for further information.
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Shareholder Information
Additional shareholder information, including how to buy and sell shares of the Fund, is available free of charge by calling toll-free: 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or visiting our website at www.iShares.com.
Buying and Selling Shares. Shares of the Fund may be acquired or redeemed directly from the Fund only in Creation Units or multiples thereof, as discussed in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus. Only an Authorized Participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. Once created, shares of the Fund generally trade in the secondary market in amounts less than a Creation Unit.
Shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange for trading during the trading day. Shares can be bought and sold throughout the trading day like shares of other publicly-traded companies. The Trust does not impose any minimum investment for shares of the Fund purchased on an exchange or otherwise in the secondary market. The Fund's shares trade under the ticker symbol “DEFA.”
Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange or other secondary market involves two types of costs that may apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you may incur a brokerage commission and other charges. The commission is frequently a fixed amount and may be a significant proportional cost for investors seeking to buy or sell small amounts of shares. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread,” that is, any difference between the bid price and the ask price. The spread varies over time for shares of the Fund based on the Fund’s trading volume and market liquidity, and is generally lower if the Fund has high trading volume and market liquidity, and higher if the Fund has little trading volume and market liquidity (which is often the case for funds that are newly launched or small in size). The Fund's spread may also be impacted by the liquidity or illiquidity of the underlying securities held by the Fund, particularly for newly launched or smaller funds or in instances of significant volatility of the underlying securities.
The Board has adopted a policy of not monitoring for frequent purchases and redemptions of Fund shares (“frequent trading”) that appear to attempt to take advantage of a potential arbitrage opportunity presented by a lag between a change in the value of the Fund’s portfolio securities after the close of the primary markets for the Fund’s portfolio securities and the reflection of that change in the Fund’s NAV (“market timing”), because the Fund sells and redeems its shares directly through transactions that are in-kind and/or for cash, subject to the conditions described below under Creations and Redemptions. The Board has not adopted a policy of monitoring for other frequent trading activity because shares of the Fund are listed for trading on a national securities exchange.
The national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed is open for trading Monday through Friday and is closed on weekends and the following holidays (or the days on which they are observed): New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The Fund’s primary listing exchange is Cboe BZX.
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Although the SEC has granted an exemptive order to the Trust permitting registered investment companies and unit investment trusts that enter into a participation agreement with the Trust (“Investing Funds”) to invest in iShares funds beyond the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act subject to certain terms and conditions, the exemptive order is not applicable to the Fund. Accordingly, Investing Funds must adhere to the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act when investing in the Fund. In addition, foreign investment companies are permitted to invest in the Fund only up to the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1), subject to any applicable SEC no-action relief.
Book Entry. Shares of the Fund are held in book-entry form, which means that no stock certificates are issued. The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) or its nominee is the record owner of, and holds legal title to, all outstanding shares of the Fund.
Investors owning shares of the Fund are beneficial owners as shown on the records of DTC or its participants. DTC serves as the securities depository for shares of the Fund. DTC participants include securities brokers and dealers, banks, trust companies, clearing corporations and other institutions that directly or indirectly maintain a custodial relationship with DTC. As a beneficial owner of shares, you are not entitled to receive physical delivery of stock certificates or to have shares registered in your name, and you are not considered a registered owner of shares. Therefore, to exercise any right as an owner of shares, you must rely upon the procedures of DTC and its participants. These procedures are the same as those that apply to any other securities that you hold in book-entry or “street name” form.
Share Prices. The trading prices of the Fund’s shares in the secondary market generally differ from the Fund’s daily NAV and are affected by market forces such as the supply of and demand for ETF shares and shares of underlying securities held by the Fund, economic conditions and other factors. Information regarding the intraday value of shares of the Fund, also known as the “indicative optimized portfolio value” (“IOPV”), is disseminated every 15 seconds throughout each trading day by the national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed or by market data vendors or other information providers. The IOPV is based on the current market value of the securities or other assets and/or cash required to be deposited in exchange for a Creation Unit. The IOPV does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities or other assets or other instruments held by the Fund at a particular point in time or the best possible valuation of the current portfolio. Therefore, the IOPV should not be viewed as a “real-time” update of the Fund's NAV, which is computed only once a day. The IOPV is generally determined by using both current market quotations and price quotations obtained from broker-dealers and other market intermediaries that may trade in the portfolio securities or other assets held by the Fund. The quotations of certain Fund holdings may not be updated during U.S. trading hours if such holdings do not trade in the U.S. The Fund is not involved in, or responsible for, the calculation or dissemination of the IOPV and makes no representation or warranty as to its accuracy.
Determination of Net Asset Value. The NAV of the Fund normally is determined once daily Monday through Friday, generally as of the regularly scheduled close of business of the NYSE (normally 4:00 p.m., Eastern time) on each day that the NYSE is
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open for trading, based on prices at the time of closing, provided that (i) any Fund assets or liabilities denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar are translated into U.S. dollars at the prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers (as detailed below) and (ii) U.S. fixed-income assets may be valued as of the announced closing time for trading in fixed-income instruments in a particular market or exchange. The NAV of the Fund is calculated by dividing the value of the net assets of the Fund (i.e., the value of its total assets, which includes the values of the Underlying Fund shares in which the Fund invests, less total liabilities) by the total number of outstanding shares of the Fund, generally rounded to the nearest cent.
The value of the securities and other assets and liabilities held by the Fund are determined pursuant to valuation policies and procedures approved by the Board.
Equity investments and other instruments for which market quotations are readily available, as well as investments in an underlying fund, if any, are valued at market value, which is generally determined using the last reported official closing price or, if a reported closing price is not available, the last traded price on the exchange or market on which the security is primarily traded at the time of valuation.
The Fund and/or the Underlying Fund invest in non-U.S. securities. Foreign currency exchange rates with respect to the portfolio securities denominated in non-U.S. currencies are generally determined as of 4:00 p.m., London time. The Fund will also invest in currency forward contracts, which are generally valued as of 4:00 p.m., Eastern time. Non-U.S. securities held by the Fund and/or the Underlying Fund may trade on weekends or other days when the Fund does not price its shares. As a result, the Fund’s NAV may change on days when Authorized Participants will not be able to purchase or redeem Fund shares.
Generally, trading in non-U.S. securities, U.S. government securities, money market instruments and certain fixed-income securities is substantially completed each day at various times prior to the close of business on the NYSE. The values of such securities used in computing the NAV of the Fund are determined as of such times.
When market quotations are not readily available or are believed by BFA to be unreliable, the Fund’s investments are valued at fair value. Fair value determinations are made by BFA in accordance with policies and procedures approved by the Board. BFA may conclude that a market quotation is not readily available or is unreliable if a security or other asset or liability does not have a price source due to its lack of trading or other reasons, if a market quotation differs significantly from recent price quotations or otherwise no longer appears to reflect fair value, where the security or other asset or liability is thinly traded, when there is a significant event subsequent to the most recent market quotation, or if the trading market on which a security is listed is suspended or closed and no appropriate alternative trading market is available. A “significant event” is deemed to occur if BFA determines, in its reasonable business judgment prior to or at the time of pricing the Fund’s assets or liabilities, that the event is likely to cause a material change to the closing market price of one or more assets or liabilities held by the Fund. Non-U.S. securities whose values are affected by volatility that occurs in the local markets or in related or highly correlated assets (e.g.,
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American Depositary Receipts, Global Depositary Receipts or substantially identical ETFs) on a trading day after the close of non-U.S. securities markets may be fair valued.
Fair value represents a good faith approximation of the value of an asset or liability. The fair value of an asset or liability held by the Fund is the amount the Fund might reasonably expect to receive from the current sale of that asset or the cost to extinguish that liability in an arm’s-length transaction. Valuing the Fund’s investments using fair value pricing will result in prices that may differ from current market valuations and that may not be the prices at which those investments could have been sold during the period in which the particular fair values were used. Use of fair value prices and certain current market valuations could result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the Fund’s NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund’s performance and the performance of the Underlying Index.
The value of assets or liabilities denominated in non-U.S. currencies will be converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. Use of a rate different from the rate used by the Index Provider may adversely affect the Fund’s ability to track the Underlying Index.
Dividends and Distributions
General Policies. Dividends from net investment income, if any, generally are declared and paid at least once a year by the Fund. Distributions of net realized securities gains, if any, generally are declared and paid once a year, but the Trust may make distributions on a more frequent basis for the Fund. The Trust reserves the right to declare special distributions if, in its reasonable discretion, such action is necessary or advisable to preserve its status as a regulated investment company (“RIC”) or to avoid imposition of income or excise taxes on undistributed income or realized gains.
Dividends and other distributions on shares of the Fund are distributed on a pro rata basis to beneficial owners of such shares. Dividend payments are made through DTC participants and indirect participants to beneficial owners then of record with proceeds received from the Fund.
Dividend Reinvestment Service. No dividend reinvestment service is provided by the Trust. Broker-dealers may make available the DTC book-entry Dividend Reinvestment Service for use by beneficial owners of the Fund for reinvestment of their dividend distributions. Beneficial owners should contact their broker to determine the availability and costs of the service and the details of participation therein. Brokers may require beneficial owners to adhere to specific procedures and timetables. If this service is available and used, dividend distributions of both income and realized gains will be automatically reinvested in additional whole shares of the Fund purchased in the secondary market.
Taxes. As with any investment, you should consider how your investment in shares of the Fund will be taxed. The tax information in this Prospectus is provided as general information, based on current law. You should consult your own tax professional about the tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund.
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Unless your investment in Fund shares is made through a tax-exempt entity or tax-deferred retirement account, such as an IRA, in which case your distributions generally will be taxable when withdrawn, you need to be aware of the possible tax consequences when the Fund makes distributions or you sell Fund shares.
Taxes on Distributions. Distributions from the Fund’s net investment income (other than qualified dividend income), including distributions of income from securities lending and distributions out of the Fund’s net short-term capital gains, if any, are taxable to you as ordinary income. Distributions by the Fund of net long-term capital gains, if any, in excess of net short-term capital losses (capital gain dividends) are taxable to you as long-term capital gains, regardless of how long you have held the Fund’s shares. Distributions by the Fund that qualify as qualified dividend income are taxable to you at long-term capital gain rates. Long-term capital gains and qualified dividend income are generally eligible for taxation at a maximum rate of 15% or 20% for non-corporate shareholders, depending on whether their income exceeds certain threshold amounts. In addition, a 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax is imposed on “net investment income,” including, but not limited to, interest, dividends, and net gain, of U.S. individuals with income exceeding $200,000 (or $250,000 if married and filing jointly) and of estates and trusts.
Dividends will be qualified dividend income to you if they are attributable to qualified dividend income received by the Fund. Generally, qualified dividend income includes dividend income from taxable U.S. corporations and qualified non-U.S. corporations, provided that the Fund satisfies certain holding period requirements in respect of the stock of such corporations and has not hedged its position in the stock in certain ways. Substitute dividends received by the Fund with respect to dividends paid on securities lent out will not be qualified dividend income. For this purpose, a qualified non-U.S. corporation means any non-U.S. corporation that is eligible for benefits under a comprehensive income tax treaty with the U.S., which includes an exchange of information program, or if the stock with respect to which the dividend was paid is readily tradable on an established U.S. securities market. The term excludes a corporation that is a passive foreign investment company.
Dividends received by the Fund from a real estate investment trust (“REIT”) or another RIC generally are qualified dividend income only to the extent such dividend distributions are made out of qualified dividend income received by such REIT or RIC. Additionally, it is expected that dividends received by the Fund from a REIT and distributed to a shareholder generally will be taxable to the shareholder as ordinary income. However, for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2026, the Fund may report dividends eligible for a 20% “qualified business income” deduction for non-corporate U.S. shareholders to the extent the Fund’s income is derived from ordinary REIT dividends, reduced by allocable Fund expenses.
For a dividend to be treated as qualified dividend income, the dividend must be received with respect to a share of stock held without being hedged by the Fund, and with respect to a share of the Fund held without being hedged by you, for 61 days during the 121-day period beginning at the date which is 60 days before the date on
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which such share becomes ex-dividend with respect to such dividend or, in the case of certain preferred stock, 91 days during the 181-day period beginning 90 days before such date.
In general, your distributions are subject to U.S. federal income tax for the year when they are paid. Certain distributions paid in January, however, may be treated as paid on December 31 of the prior year.
Short term capital gains earned by the Underlying Fund will be ordinary income when distributed to the Fund and will not be offset by the Fund's capital losses. Because the Fund is expected to invest in the Underlying Fund, the Fund's realized losses on sales of shares of the Underlying Fund may be indefinitely or permanently deferred as “wash sales.” Capital loss carryforwards of the Underlying Fund, if any, would not offset net capital gains of the Fund.
If the Fund’s distributions exceed current and accumulated earnings and profits, all or a portion of the distributions made in the taxable year may be recharacterized as a return of capital to shareholders. Distributions in excess of the Fund’s minimum distribution requirements, but not in excess of the Fund’s earnings and profits, will be taxable to shareholders and will not constitute nontaxable returns of capital. A return of capital distribution generally will not be taxable but will reduce the shareholder’s cost basis and result in a higher capital gain or lower capital loss when those shares on which the distribution was received are sold. Once a shareholder's cost basis is reduced to zero, further distributions will be treated as capital gain, if the shareholder holds shares of the Fund as capital assets.
Dividends, interest and capital gains earned by the Underlying Fund with respect to securities issued by non-U.S. issuers may give rise to withholding and other taxes imposed by non-U.S. countries. Tax conventions between certain countries and the U.S. may reduce or eliminate such taxes. If more than 50% of the total assets of the Underlying Fund at the close of a year consists of non-U.S. stocks or securities (generally, for this purpose, depositary receipts, no matter where traded, of non-U.S. companies are treated as “non-U.S.”) (and 50% of the total assets of the Fund at the close of the year consists of foreign securities, or, at the close of each quarter, shares of the Underlying Fund), the Fund may “pass through” to you certain non-U.S. income taxes (including withholding taxes) paid by the Fund or the Underlying Fund.
For purposes of foreign tax credits for U.S. shareholders of the Fund, foreign capital gains taxes may not produce associated foreign source income, thereby limiting a U.S. person’s ability to use such credits.
If you are neither a resident nor a citizen of the U.S. or if you are a non-U.S. corporation (other than a pass-through entity to the extent owned by U.S. persons), the Fund’s ordinary income dividends (which include distributions of net short-term capital gains) will generally be subject to a 30% U.S. withholding tax, unless a lower treaty rate applies, provided that withholding tax will generally not apply to any gain or income realized by a non-U.S. shareholder in respect of any distributions of long-term capital gains or upon the sale or other disposition of shares of the Fund.
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Separately, a 30% withholding tax is currently imposed on U.S.-source dividends, interest and other income items paid to (i) foreign financial institutions, including non-U.S. investment funds, unless they agree to collect and disclose to the IRS information regarding their direct and indirect U.S. account holders and (ii) certain other foreign entities, unless they certify certain information regarding their direct and indirect U.S. owners. To avoid withholding, foreign financial institutions will need to (i) enter into agreements with the IRS that state that they will provide the IRS information, including the names, addresses and taxpayer identification numbers of direct and indirect U.S. account holders, comply with due diligence procedures with respect to the identification of U.S. accounts, report to the IRS certain information with respect to U.S. accounts maintained, agree to withhold tax on certain payments made to non-compliant foreign financial institutions or to account holders who fail to provide the required information, and determine certain other information concerning their account holders, or (ii) in the event that an applicable intergovernmental agreement and implementing legislation are adopted, provide local revenue authorities with similar account holder information. Other foreign entities may need to report the name, address, and taxpayer identification number of each substantial U.S. owner or provide certifications of no substantial U.S. ownership unless certain exceptions apply.
If your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending arrangement, you may lose the ability to use foreign tax credits passed through by the Fund or to treat Fund dividends paid while the shares are held by the borrower as qualified dividend income. In addition, you may lose the ability to use foreign tax credits passed through by the Fund if your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending agreement.
If you are a resident or a citizen of the U.S., by law, backup withholding at a 24% rate will apply to your distributions and proceeds if you have not provided a taxpayer identification number or social security number and made other required certifications.
Taxes When Shares are Sold. Currently, any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares is generally treated as a long-term gain or loss if the shares have been held for more than one year. Any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares held for one year or less is generally treated as short-term gain or loss, except that any capital loss on the sale of shares held for six months or less is treated as long-term capital loss to the extent that capital gain dividends were paid with respect to such shares. Any such capital gains, including from sales of Fund shares or from capital gain dividends, are included in “net investment income” for purposes of the 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax mentioned above.
The foregoing discussion summarizes some of the consequences under current U.S. federal tax law of an investment in the Fund. It is not a substitute for personal tax advice. You may also be subject to state and local taxation on Fund distributions and sales of shares. Consult your personal tax advisor about the potential tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund under all applicable tax laws.
Creations and Redemptions. Prior to trading in the secondary market, shares of the Fund are “created” at NAV by market makers, large investors and institutions only in block-size Creation Units of 50,000 shares or multiples thereof. Each “creator” or
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authorized participant (an “Authorized Participant”) has entered into an agreement with the Fund's distributor, BlackRock Investments, LLC (the “Distributor”), an affiliate of BFA.
A creation transaction, which is subject to acceptance by the Distributor and the Fund, generally takes place when an Authorized Participant deposits into the Fund a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) and a specified amount of cash approximating the holdings of the Fund in exchange for a specified number of Creation Units. To the extent practicable, the composition of such portfolio generally corresponds pro rata to the holdings of the Fund. However, creation and redemption baskets may differ. The Fund may, in certain circumstances, offer Creation Units partially or solely for cash.
Similarly, shares can be redeemed only in Creation Units, generally for a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities and other portfolio holdings for which cash may be substituted) held by the Fund and a specified amount of cash. Redeeming holders will receive cash in respect to the pro rata value of the currency forward contracts and NDFs held by the Fund to the extent attributable to the Creation Unit being redeemed. Except when aggregated in Creation Units, shares are not redeemable by the Fund.
The prices at which creations and redemptions occur are based on the next calculation of NAV after a creation or redemption order is received in an acceptable form under the authorized participant agreement.
Only an Authorized Participant may create or redeem Creation Units with the Fund. Authorized Participants may create or redeem Creation Units for their own accounts or for customers, including, without limitation, affiliates of the Fund.
In the event of a system failure or other interruption, including disruptions at market makers or Authorized Participants, orders to purchase or redeem Creation Units either may not be executed according to the Fund's instructions or may not be executed at all, or the Fund may not be able to place or change orders.
To the extent the Fund engages in in-kind transactions, the Fund intends to comply with the U.S. federal securities laws in accepting securities for deposit and satisfying redemptions with redemption securities by, among other means, assuring that any securities accepted for deposit and any securities used to satisfy redemption requests will be sold in transactions that would be exempt from registration under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”). Further, an Authorized Participant that is not a “qualified institutional buyer,” as such term is defined in Rule 144A under the 1933 Act, will not be able to receive restricted securities eligible for resale under Rule 144A.
Creations and redemptions must be made through a firm that is either a member of the Continuous Net Settlement System of the National Securities Clearing Corporation or a DTC participant that has executed an agreement with the Distributor with respect to creations and redemptions of Creation Unit aggregations. Information about the procedures regarding creation and redemption of Creation Units (including the cut-off times for receipt of creation and redemption orders) is included in the Fund's SAI.
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Because new shares may be created and issued on an ongoing basis, at any point during the life of the Fund a “distribution,” as such term is used in the 1933 Act, may be occurring. Broker-dealers and other persons are cautioned that some activities on their part may, depending on the circumstances, result in their being deemed participants in a distribution in a manner that could render them statutory underwriters subject to the prospectus delivery and liability provisions of the 1933 Act. Any determination of whether one is an underwriter must take into account all the relevant facts and circumstances of each particular case.
Broker-dealers should also note that dealers who are not “underwriters” but are participating in a distribution (as contrasted to ordinary secondary transactions), and thus dealing with shares that are part of an “unsold allotment” within the meaning of Section 4(a)(3)(C) of the 1933 Act, would be unable to take advantage of the prospectus delivery exemption provided by Section 4(a)(3) of the 1933 Act. For delivery of prospectuses to exchange members, the prospectus delivery mechanism of Rule 153 under the 1933 Act is available only with respect to transactions on a national securities exchange.
Costs Associated with Creations and Redemptions. Authorized Participants are charged standard creation and redemption transaction fees to offset transfer and other transaction costs associated with the issuance and redemption of Creation Units. The standard creation and redemption transaction fees are set forth in the table below. The standard creation transaction fee is charged to the Authorized Participant on the day such Authorized Participant creates a Creation Unit, and is the same regardless of the number of Creation Units purchased by the Authorized Participant on the applicable business day. Similarly, the standard redemption transaction fee is charged to the Authorized Participant on the day such Authorized Participant redeems a Creation Unit, and is the same regardless of the number of Creation Units redeemed by the Authorized Participant on the applicable business day. Creations and redemptions for cash (when cash creations and redemptions (in whole or in part) are available or specified) are also subject to an additional charge (up to the maximum amounts shown in the table below). This charge is intended to compensate for brokerage, tax, foreign exchange, execution, price movement and other costs and expenses related to cash transactions (which may, in certain instances, be based on a good faith estimate of transaction costs). Investors who use the services of a broker or other financial intermediary to acquire or dispose of Fund shares may pay fees for such services.
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The following table shows, as of August 31, 2019, the approximate value of one Creation Unit, standard transaction fees and maximum additional charges for creations and redemptions (as described above and in the Fund's SAI):
Approximate
Value of a
Creation Unit
  Creation
Unit Size
  Standard
Creation/
Redemption
Transaction Fee
  Maximum Additional
Charge for
Creations*
  Maximum Additional
Charge for
Redemptions*
$1,336,500   50,000   $100   3.0%   2.0%

* As a percentage of the net asset value per Creation Unit, inclusive, in the case of redemptions, of the standard redemption transaction fee.
Householding. Householding is an option available to certain Fund investors. Householding is a method of delivery, based on the preference of the individual investor, in which a single copy of certain shareholder documents can be delivered to investors who share the same address, even if their accounts are registered under different names. Please contact your broker-dealer if you are interested in enrolling in householding and receiving a single copy of prospectuses and other shareholder documents, or if you are currently enrolled in householding and wish to change your householding status.
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Distribution
The Distributor or its agent distributes Creation Units for the Fund on an agency basis. The Distributor does not maintain a secondary market in shares of the Fund. The Distributor has no role in determining the policies of the Fund or the securities that are purchased or sold by the Fund. The Distributor’s principal address is 1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540.
BFA or its affiliates make payments to broker-dealers, registered investment advisers, banks or other intermediaries (together, “intermediaries”) related to marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems, data provision services, or their making shares of the Fund and certain other iShares funds available to their customers generally and in certain investment programs. Such payments, which may be significant to the intermediary, are not made by the Fund. Rather, such payments are made by BFA or its affiliates from their own resources, which come directly or indirectly in part from fees paid by the iShares funds complex. Payments of this type are sometimes referred to as revenue-sharing payments. A financial intermediary may make decisions about which investment options it recommends or makes available, or the level of services provided, to its customers based on the payments or other financial incentives it is eligible to receive. Therefore, such payments or other financial incentives offered or made to an intermediary create conflicts of interest between the intermediary and its customers and may cause the intermediary to recommend the Fund or other iShares funds over another investment. More information regarding these payments is contained in the Fund's SAI. Please contact your salesperson or other investment professional for more information regarding any such payments his or her firm may receive from BFA or its affiliates.
Financial Highlights
The financial highlights table is intended to help investors understand the Fund’s financial performance since inception. Certain information reflects financial results for a single share of the Fund. The total returns in the table represent the rate that an investor would have earned (or lost) on an investment in the Fund, assuming reinvestment of all dividends and distributions. This information has been audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, whose report is included, along with the Fund's financial statements, in the Fund's Annual Report (available upon request).
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Financial Highlights
(For a share outstanding throughout each period)
  iShares Adaptive Currency Hedged MSCI EAFE ETF
  Year Ended
07/31/19
  Year Ended
07/31/18
  Year Ended
07/31/17
  Period From
01/05/16(a)
to 07/31/16
Net asset value, beginning of period $ 28.89   $27.43   $23.77   $ 24.29
Net investment income(b) 0.94   0.86   0.68   0.48
Net realized and unrealized gain (loss)(c) (1.15)   1.46   3.66   (0.52)
Net increase (decrease) from investment operations (0.21)   2.32   4.34   (0.04)
Distributions (d)              
From net investment income (0.85)   (0.86)   (0.68)   (0.48)
From net realized gain (0.58)      
Return of capital     (0.00) (e)   (0.00) (e)
Total distributions (1.43)   (0.86)   (0.68)   (0.48)
Net asset value, end of period $27.25   $ 28.89   $27.43   $23.77
Total Return              
Based on net asset value (0.49)%   8.56%   18.42%   0.01% (f)(g)
Ratios to Average Net Assets              
Total expenses(h) 0.38%   0.38%   0.38%   0.38% (i)
Total expenses after fees waived(h) 0.03%   0.03%   0.03%   0.03% (i)
Net investment income 3.46%   3.00%   2.69%   3.63% (i)
Supplemental Data              
Net assets, end of period (000) $ 8,175   $ 2,889   $ 2,743   $ 2,377
Portfolio turnover rate(j)(k) 8%   8%   7%   4% (f)

(a) Commencement of operations.
(b) Based on average shares outstanding.
(c) The amounts reported for a share outstanding may not accord with the change in aggregate gains and losses in securities for the fiscal period due to the timing of capital share transactions in relation to the fluctuating market values of the Fund’s underlying securities.
(d) Distributions for annual periods determined in accordance with U.S. federal income tax regulations.
(e) Rounds to less than $0.01.
(f) Not annualized.
(g) The total return disclosed is based on the net asset value (“NAV”) calculated daily for the creation and redemption of shares in the Fund, which may differ from the NAV calculated for financial reporting purposes. Based on the NAV calculated for financial reporting purposes, the total return for the Fund was -0.03%.
(h) The Fund indirectly bears its proportionate share of fees and expenses incurred by the underlying fund in which the Fund is invested. This ratio does not include these indirect fees and expenses.
(i) Annualized.
(j) Portfolio turnover rate excludes in-kind transactions.
(k) Portfolio turnover rate excludes the portfolio activity of the underlying fund in which the Fund is invested. See the underlying fund's financial highlights for its respective portfolio turnover rates.
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Index Provider
MSCI is a provider of investment decision support tools to investors globally. MSCI products and services include indices, portfolio risk and performance analytics, and governance tools. MSCI is not affiliated with the Trust, BFA, State Street, the Distributor or any of their respective affiliates.
BFA or its affiliates have entered into a license agreement with the Index Provider to use the Underlying Index. BFA or its affiliates sublicense rights in the Underlying Index to the Trust at no charge.
Disclaimers
The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by MSCI or any affiliate of MSCI. Neither MSCI nor any other party makes any representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the advisability of investing in funds generally or in the Fund particularly or the ability of the Underlying Index to track general stock market performance. MSCI is the licensor of certain trademarks, service marks and trade names of MSCI and of the Underlying Index, which is determined, composed and calculated by MSCI without regard to the issuer of the Fund’s securities or the Fund. MSCI has no obligation to take the needs of the issuer of the Fund’s securities or the owners of shares of the Fund into consideration in determining, composing or calculating the Underlying Index. MSCI is not responsible for and has not participated in the determination of the timing of, prices at, or quantities of the Fund’s shares to be issued or in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the Fund’s shares are redeemable for cash. Neither MSCI nor any other party has any obligation or liability to owners of shares of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of the Fund’s shares.
ALTHOUGH MSCI SHALL OBTAIN INFORMATION FOR INCLUSION IN OR FOR USE IN THE CALCULATION OF THE INDEXES FROM SOURCES WHICH MSCI CONSIDERS RELIABLE, NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY GUARANTEES THE ACCURACY AND/OR THE COMPLETENESS OF THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN. NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY MAKES ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO RESULTS TO BE OBTAINED BY LICENSEE, LICENSEE’S CUSTOMERS AND COUNTERPARTIES, OWNERS OF SHARES OF THE FUND, OR ANY OTHER PERSON OR ENTITY FROM THE USE OF THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN IN CONNECTION WITH THE RIGHTS LICENSED HEREUNDER OR FOR ANY OTHER USE. NEITHER MSCI NOR ANY OTHER PARTY MAKES ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, AND MSCI HEREBY EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE WITH RESPECT TO THE INDEXES OR ANY DATA INCLUDED THEREIN. WITHOUT LIMITING ANY OF THE FOREGOING, IN NO EVENT SHALL MSCI OR ANY OTHER PARTY HAVE ANY LIABILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE, CONSEQUENTIAL OR ANY OTHER DAMAGES (INCLUDING LOST PROFITS) EVEN IF NOTIFIED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
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Shares of the Fund are not sponsored, endorsed or promoted by Cboe BZX. Cboe BZX makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the ability of the Fund to track the total return performance of the Underlying Index or the ability of the Underlying Index to track stock market performance. Cboe BZX is not responsible for, nor has it participated in, the determination of the compilation or the calculation of the Underlying Index, nor in the determination of the timing of, prices of, or quantities of shares of the Fund to be issued, nor in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the shares are redeemable. Cboe BZX has no obligation or liability to owners of shares of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of shares of the Fund.
Cboe BZX does not guarantee the accuracy and/or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Cboe BZX makes no warranty, express or implied, as to results to be obtained by the Trust on behalf of the Fund as licensee, licensee’s customers and counterparties, owners of shares of the Fund, or any other person or entity from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein in connection with the rights licensed as described herein or for any other use. Cboe BZX makes no express or implied warranties and hereby expressly disclaims all warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose with respect to the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall Cboe BZX have any liability for any direct, indirect, special, punitive, consequential or any other damages (including lost profits) even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
The past performance of the Underlying Index is not a guide to future performance. BFA and its affiliates do not guarantee the accuracy or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein and BFA and its affiliates shall have no liability for any errors, omissions or interruptions therein. BFA and its affiliates make no warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or to any other person or entity, as to results to be obtained by the Fund from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall BFA or its affiliates have any liability for any special, punitive, direct, indirect, consequential or any other damages (including lost profits), even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
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Supplemental Information
I. Premium/Discount Information
The table that follows presents information about the differences between the daily market price on secondary markets for shares of the Fund and the Fund’s NAV. NAV is the price at which the Fund issues and redeems shares. It is calculated in accordance with the standard formula for valuing mutual fund shares. The price used to calculate market returns (“Market Price”) of the Fund generally is determined using the midpoint between the highest bid and the lowest ask on the primary securities exchange on which shares of the Fund are listed for trading, as of the time that the Fund’s NAV is calculated. The Fund’s Market Price may be at, above or below its NAV. The NAV of the Fund will fluctuate with changes in the value of its portfolio holdings. The Market Price of the Fund will fluctuate in accordance with changes in its NAV, as well as market supply and demand.
Premiums or discounts are the differences (expressed as a percentage) between the NAV and Market Price of the Fund on a given day, generally at the time the NAV is calculated. A premium is the amount that the Fund is trading above the reported NAV, expressed as a percentage of the NAV. A discount is the amount that the Fund is trading below the reported NAV, expressed as a percentage of the NAV.
The following information shows the frequency of distributions of premiums and discounts for the Fund for each full calendar quarter of 2018 through September 30, 2019.
Each line in the table shows the number of trading days in which the Fund traded within the premium/discount range indicated. Premium/discount ranges with no trading days are omitted. The number of trading days in each premium/discount range is also shown as a percentage of the total number of trading days in the period covered by the table. All data presented here represents past performance, which cannot be used to predict future results.
Premium/Discount Range   Number of Days   Percentage of Total Days
Greater than 3.0% and Less than 3.5%   1   0.23%
Greater than 1.0% and Less than 1.5%   1   0.23
Greater than 0.5% and Less than 1.0%   5   1.14
Greater than 0.0% and Less than 0.5%   414   94.30
At NAV   2   0.46
Less than 0.0% and Greater than -0.5%   16   3.64
    439   100.00%
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II. Total Return Information
The table that follows presents information about the total returns of the Fund and the Underlying Index as of the fiscal year ended July 31, 2019.
“Average Annual Total Returns” represents the average annual change in value of an investment over the periods indicated. “Cumulative Total Returns” represents the total change in value of an investment over the period indicated.
The Fund’s NAV is the value of one share of the Fund as calculated in accordance with the standard formula for valuing mutual fund shares. The NAV return is based on the NAV of the Fund and the market return is based on the Market Price of the Fund. Market Price generally is determined by using the midpoint between the highest bid and the lowest ask on the primary stock exchange on which shares of the Fund are listed for trading, as of the time that the Fund's NAV is calculated. Since shares of the Fund did not trade in the secondary market until after the Fund's inception, for the period from inception to the first day of secondary market trading in shares of the Fund, the NAV of the Fund is used as a proxy for the Market Price to calculate market returns. Market and NAV returns assume that dividends and capital gain distributions have been reinvested in the Fund at Market Price and NAV, respectively.
An index is a financial calculation, based on a grouping of financial instruments, that is not an investment product and that tracks a specified financial market or sector. Unlike the Fund, the Underlying Index does not actually hold a portfolio of securities and therefore does not incur the expenses incurred by the Fund. These expenses negatively impact the performance of the Fund. Also, market returns do not include brokerage commissions and other charges that may be payable on secondary market transactions. If brokerage commissions were included, market returns would be lower. The returns shown in the following table do not reflect the deduction of taxes that a shareholder would pay on Fund distributions or the redemption or sale of Fund shares. The investment return and principal value of shares of the Fund will vary with changes in market conditions. Shares of the Fund may be worth more or less than their original cost when they are redeemed or sold in the market. The Fund’s past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Performance as of July 31, 2019
  Average Annual Total Returns   Cumulative Total Returns
  1 Year Since
Inception
  1 Year Since
Inception
Fund NAV (0.64)% (a) 7.09%   (0.64)% 27.74%
Fund Market (0.53) 7.13   (0.53) 27.89
Index 0.02 7.52   0.02 29.54
(a) The NAV total return presented in the table for the one-year period differs from the same period return disclosed in the financial highlights. The total return in the financial highlights is calculated in the same manner but differs due to certain adjustments made for financial reporting purposes in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles.
  Total returns for the period since inception are calculated from the inception date of the Fund (1/5/16). The first day of secondary market trading in shares of the Fund was 1/7/16.
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Want to know more?
iShares.com     |    1-800-474-2737
Copies of the Prospectus, SAI and recent shareholder reports can be found on our website at www.iShares.com. For more information about the Fund, you may request a copy of the SAI. The SAI provides detailed information about the Fund and is incorporated by reference into this Prospectus. This means that the SAI, for legal purposes, is a part of this Prospectus.
Additional information about the Fund's investments is available in the Fund's Annual and Semi-Annual Reports to shareholders. In the Fund's Annual Report, you will find a discussion of the market conditions and investment strategies that significantly affected the Fund's performance during the last fiscal year.
If you have any questions about the Trust or shares of the Fund or you wish to obtain the SAI, Semi-Annual or Annual Report free of charge, please:
Call: 1-800-iShares or 1-800-474-2737 (toll free)
Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Eastern time)
Email: iSharesETFs@blackrock.com
Write: c/o BlackRock Investments, LLC
1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540
Reports and other information about the Fund are available on the EDGAR database on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov, and copies of this information may be obtained, after paying a duplicating fee, by electronic request at the following e-mail address: publicinfo@sec.gov.
No person is authorized to give any information or to make any representations about the Fund and its shares not contained in this Prospectus and you should not rely on any other information. Read and keep this Prospectus for future reference.
©2019 BlackRock, Inc. All rights reserved. iSHARES® and BLACKROCK® are registered trademarks of BFA and its affiliates. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.
Investment Company Act File No.: 811-09729
IS-P-DEFA-1119


November 29, 2019
   
    
2019 Prospectus
iShares Trust
•  iShares China Large-Cap ETF | FXI |  NYSE ARCA
Beginning on January 1, 2021, as permitted by regulations adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), paper copies of the Fund’s shareholder reports will no longer be sent by mail, unless you specifically request paper copies of the reports from your financial intermediary, such as a broker-dealer or bank. Instead, the reports will be made available on a website, and you will be notified by mail each time a report is posted and provided with a website link to access the report.
If you already elected to receive shareholder reports electronically, you will not be affected by this change and you need not take any action. If you hold accounts through a financial intermediary, you may contact your financial intermediary to enroll in electronic delivery. Please note that not all financial intermediaries may offer this service.
You may elect to receive all future reports in paper free of charge. If you hold accounts through a financial intermediary, you can follow the instructions included with this disclosure, if applicable, or contact your financial intermediary to request that you continue to receive paper copies of your shareholder reports. Please note that not all financial intermediaries may offer this service. Your election to receive reports in paper will apply to all funds held with your financial intermediary.
The SEC has not approved or disapproved these securities or passed upon the adequacy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 



 


Table of Contents
“FTSE®” is a trademark of the London Stock Exchange Group companies and is used by FTSE International Limited (“FTSE”) under license. “FTSE China 50 Index” has been licensed for use for certain purposes by BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates. iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates.
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iSHARES® CHINA LARGE-CAP ETF
Ticker: FXI Stock Exchange: NYSE Arca
Investment Objective
The iShares China Large-Cap ETF (the “Fund”) seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of large-capitalization Chinese equities that trade on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Fees and Expenses
The following table describes the fees and expenses that you will incur if you own shares of the Fund. The investment advisory agreement between iShares Trust (the “Trust”) and BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”) (the “Investment Advisory Agreement”) provides that BFA will pay all operating expenses of the Fund, except the management fees, interest expenses, taxes, expenses incurred with respect to the acquisition and disposition of portfolio securities and the execution of portfolio transactions, including brokerage commissions, distribution fees or expenses, litigation expenses and any extraordinary expenses.
You may also incur usual and customary brokerage commissions and other charges when buying or selling shares of the Fund, which are not reflected in the Example that follows:
Annual Fund Operating Expenses
(ongoing expenses that you pay each year as a
percentage of the value of your investments)
Management
Fees
  Distribution and
Service (12b-1)
Fees
  Other
Expenses1
  Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
0.74%   None   0.00%   0.74%

1The amount rounded to 0.00%.
Example. This Example is intended to help you compare the cost of owning shares of the Fund with the cost of investing in other funds. The Example assumes that you invest $10,000 in the Fund for the time periods indicated and then sell all of your shares at the end of those periods. The Example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions, your costs would be:
1 Year   3 Years   5 Years   10 Years
$76   $237   $411   $918
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Portfolio Turnover. The Fund may pay transaction costs, such as commissions, when it buys and sells securities (or “turns over” its portfolio). A higher portfolio turnover rate may indicate higher transaction costs and may result in higher taxes when Fund shares are held in a taxable account. These costs, which are not reflected in the Annual Fund Operating Expenses or in the Example, affect the Fund’s performance. During the most recent fiscal year, the Fund's portfolio turnover rate was 14% of the average value of its portfolio.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the FTSE China 50 Index (the “Underlying Index”), which is designed to measure the performance of the largest companies in the Chinese equity market that trade on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (SEHK) and are available to international investors, as determined by FTSE International Limited (the “Index Provider” or “FTSE”). The Underlying Index consists of 50 of the largest and most liquid Chinese companies. Securities in the Underlying Index are weighted based on the total market value of their shares, so that securities with higher total market values generally have a higher representation in the Underlying Index. Each security in the Underlying Index is a current constituent of the FTSE All-World Index. Individual constituents are capped such that no individual company represents more than 9% of the Underlying Index and all companies that individually have a weight greater than 4.5% in aggregate represent no more than 38% of the Underlying Index. As of July 31, 2019, a significant portion of
the Underlying Index is represented by securities of companies in the financials industry or sector. The components of the Underlying Index are likely to change over time.
BFA uses a “passive” or indexing approach to try to achieve the Fund’s investment objective. Unlike many investment companies, the Fund does not try to “beat” the index it tracks and does not seek temporary defensive positions when markets decline or appear overvalued.
Indexing may eliminate the chance that the Fund will substantially outperform the Underlying Index but also may reduce some of the risks of active management, such as poor security selection. Indexing seeks to achieve lower costs and better after-tax performance by aiming to keep portfolio turnover low in comparison to actively managed investment companies.
BFA uses a representative sampling indexing strategy to manage the Fund. “Representative sampling” is an indexing strategy that involves investing in a representative sample of securities that collectively has an investment profile similar to that of an applicable underlying index. The securities selected are expected to have, in the aggregate, investment characteristics (based on factors such as market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of an applicable underlying index. The Fund may or may not hold all of the securities in the Underlying Index.
The Fund generally invests at least 90% of its assets in securities of the Underlying Index and in depositary receipts representing securities of the
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Underlying Index. The Fund may invest the remainder of its assets in certain futures, options and swap contracts, cash and cash equivalents, including shares of money market funds advised by BFA or its affiliates, as well as in securities not included in the Underlying Index, but which BFA believes will help the Fund track the Underlying Index. The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the Underlying Index before fees and expenses of the Fund.
The Fund may lend securities representing up to one-third of the value of the Fund's total assets (including the value of any collateral received).
The Underlying Index is sponsored by FTSE, which is independent of the Fund and BFA. The Index Provider determines the composition and relative weightings of the securities in the Underlying Index and publishes information regarding the market value of the Underlying Index.
Industry Concentration Policy. The Fund will concentrate its investments (i.e., hold 25% or more of its total assets) in a particular industry or group of industries to approximately the same extent that the Underlying Index is concentrated. For purposes of this limitation, securities of the U.S. government (including its agencies and instrumentalities) and repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.
Summary of Principal Risks
As with any investment, you could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund's performance could trail that of other investments. The Fund is subject to certain risks, including the
principal risks noted below, any of which may adversely affect the Fund's net asset value per share (“NAV”), trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Asset Class Risk. Securities and other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund's portfolio may underperform in comparison to the general financial markets, a particular financial market or other asset classes.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant (as defined in the Creation and Redemptions section of this prospectus (the “Prospectus”)) may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund, and none of those Authorized Participants is obligated to engage in creation and/or redemption transactions. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as Authorized Participants on an agency basis (i.e., on behalf of other market participants). To the extent that Authorized Participants exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units (as defined in the Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares section of the Prospectus), Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium or discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts or delisting. Authorized Participant concentration risk may be heightened for exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”), such as the Fund, that invest in securities issued by non-U.S. issuers or other securities or instruments that have lower trading volumes.
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Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class.
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's NAV is determined in U.S. dollars, the Fund's NAV could decline if the currency of a non-U.S. market in which the Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of such currency. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the Fund's NAV may change quickly and without warning.
Custody Risk. Less developed securities markets are more likely to experience problems with the clearing and settling of trades, as well as the holding of securities by local banks, agents and depositories.
Cybersecurity Risk. Failures or breaches of the electronic systems of the Fund, the Fund's adviser, distributor, the Index Provider and other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests have the ability to cause disruptions, negatively impact the Fund’s business operations and/or potentially result in financial losses to the Fund and its shareholders. While the Fund has established business continuity plans and risk management systems seeking to address system breaches or failures, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems. Furthermore, the
Fund cannot control the cybersecurity plans and systems of the Fund’s Index Provider and other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
Equity Securities Risk. Equity securities are subject to changes in value, and their values may be more volatile than those of other asset classes. The Underlying Index is comprised of common stocks, which generally subject their holders to more risks than preferred stocks and debt securities because common stockholders’ claims are subordinated to those of holders of preferred stocks and debt securities upon the bankruptcy of the issuer.
Financials Sector Risk. Performance of companies in the financials sector may be adversely impacted by many factors, including, among others, changes in government regulations, economic conditions, interest rates, credit rating downgrades, and decreased liquidity in credit markets. Chinese financials sector regulation and ownership may be more intrusive than in the U.S. and other developed countries, especially with respect to the regulation of non-Chinese banks and other non-Chinese financial companies. Greater Chinese governmental involvement in the financials sector may pose additional risks for investors. Market conditions in China may be particularly subject to change based on government policy. The extent to which the Fund may invest in a company that engages in securities-related activities or banking is limited by applicable law. The impact of changes in capital requirements and recent or future regulation of any individual financial company, or of the financials sector as a whole, cannot be predicted.
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In recent years, cyberattacks and technology malfunctions and failures have become increasingly frequent in this sector and have caused significant losses to companies in this sector, which may negatively impact the Fund.
Geographic Risk. A natural disaster could occur in China, which could adversely affect the economy or the business operations of companies in China, causing an adverse impact on the Fund's investments in China.
Index-Related Risk. There is no guarantee that the Fund’s investment results will have a high degree of correlation to those of the Underlying Index or that the Fund will achieve its investment objective. Market disruptions and regulatory restrictions could have an adverse effect on the Fund’s ability to adjust its exposure to the required levels in order to track the Underlying Index. Errors in index data, index computations or the construction of the Underlying Index in accordance with its methodology may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, which may have an adverse impact on the Fund and its shareholders.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities to which the Fund has exposure. Changes in the financial condition or credit rating of an issuer of those securities may cause the value of the securities to decline.
Large-Capitalization Companies Risk. Large-capitalization companies may be less able than smaller capitalization companies to adapt to changing market conditions. Large-capitalization companies may be more mature and subject to more limited growth potential
compared with smaller capitalization companies. During different market cycles, the performance of large-capitalization companies has trailed the overall performance of the broader securities markets.
Management Risk. As the Fund will not fully replicate the Underlying Index, it is subject to the risk that BFA's investment strategy may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns.
Market Trading Risk. The Fund faces numerous market trading risks, including the potential lack of an active market for Fund shares, losses from trading in secondary markets, periods of high volatility and disruptions in the creation/redemption process. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund trade on foreign exchanges or in foreign markets that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the 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., the Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Nationalization Risk. Investments in China may be subject to loss due to expropriation or nationalization of
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assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and repatriation of capital.
Non-Diversification Risk. The Fund may invest a large percentage of its assets in securities issued by or representing a small number of issuers. As a result, the Fund's performance may depend on the performance of a small number of issuers.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments that track the value of Chinese issuers are subject to the risks associated with investing in China, such as heightened risks of inflation or nationalization. The Fund may lose money due to political, economic and geographic events affecting issuers of non-U.S. securities or non-U.S. markets. In addition, non-U.S. securities markets may trade a small number of securities and may be unable to respond effectively to changes in trading volume, potentially making prompt liquidation of holdings difficult or impossible at times. The Fund is specifically exposed to Asian Economic Risk.
Operational Risk. The Fund is exposed to operational risks arising from a number of factors, including, but not limited to, human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund’s service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate to address significant operational risks.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund is not actively managed, and BFA generally does not attempt to take defensive
positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Privatization Risk. China has privatized, or has begun the process of privatizing, certain entities and industries. Privatized entities may lose money or be re-nationalized.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. The Fund invests in a country whose economy is heavily dependent upon trading with key partners. Any reduction in this trading may have an adverse impact on the Fund's investments. Through its holdings of securities of certain issuers, the Fund is specifically exposed to Asian Economic Risk, European Economic Risk and U.S. Economic Risk.
Risk of Investing in China. Investments in Chinese issuers subject the Fund to risks specific to China. Investments in certain Hong Kong-listed securities may also subject the Fund to exposure to Chinese companies. China may be subject to considerable degrees of economic, political and social instability. China is an emerging market and demonstrates significantly higher volatility from time to time in comparison to developed markets. Over the last few decades, the Chinese government has undertaken reform of economic and market practices and has expanded the sphere of private ownership of property in China. However, Chinese markets generally continue to experience inefficiency, volatility and pricing anomalies resulting from governmental influence, a lack of publicly available information and/or political and social instability. Internal social unrest or confrontations with other neighboring countries, including military conflicts in response to such events, may also disrupt economic
S-6

 


development in China and result in a greater risk of currency fluctuations, currency non-convertibility, interest rate fluctuations and higher rates of inflation. China has experienced security concerns, such as terrorism and strained international relations. Additionally, China is alleged to have participated in state-sponsored cyberattacks against foreign companies and foreign governments. Actual and threatened responses to such activity, including purchasing restrictions, sanctions, tariffs or cyberattacks on the Chinese government or Chinese companies, may impact China’s economy and Chinese issuers of securities in which the Fund invests. Incidents involving China's or the region's security may cause uncertainty in Chinese markets and may adversely affect the Chinese economy and the Fund's investments. Export growth continues to be a major driver of China's rapid economic growth. Reduction in spending on Chinese products and services, institution of additional tariffs or other trade barriers (including as a result of heightened trade tensions between China and the U.S., or in response to actual or alleged Chinese cyber activity) or a downturn in any of the economies of China's key trading partners may have an adverse impact on the Chinese economy.
Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets. The Fund's investments in China may be subject to a greater risk of loss than investments in issuers located or operating in more developed markets. Emerging markets may be more likely to experience inflation, political turmoil and rapid changes in economic conditions than more developed markets. Emerging markets often have less uniformity in accounting
and reporting requirements, less reliable securities valuations and greater risk associated with custody of securities than developed markets.
Securities Lending Risk. The Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund.
Tracking Error Risk. The Fund may be subject to tracking error, which is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities and other instruments held in the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences (including, as applicable, differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the Fund's valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the Fund's NAV), transaction costs incurred by the Fund, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or interest, the requirements to maintain pass-through tax treatment, portfolio transactions carried out to minimize the distribution of capital gains to shareholders, changes to the Underlying Index or the costs to the 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
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may result because the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not. INDEX ETFS THAT TRACK INDICES WITH SIGNIFICANT WEIGHT IN EMERGING MARKETS ISSUERS MAY EXPERIENCE HIGHER TRACKING ERROR THAN OTHER INDEX ETFS THAT DO NOT TRACK SUCH INDICES.
Valuation Risk. The price the Fund could receive upon the sale of a security or other asset may differ from the Fund's valuation of the security or other asset and from the value used by the Underlying Index, particularly for securities or other assets that trade in low volume or volatile markets or that are valued using a fair value methodology as a result of trade
suspensions or for other reasons. In addition, the value of the securities or other assets in the Fund's portfolio may change on days or during time periods when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund's shares. Authorized Participants who purchase or redeem Fund shares on days when the Fund is holding fair-valued securities may receive fewer or more shares, or lower or higher redemption proceeds, than they would have received had the Fund not fair-valued securities or used a different valuation methodology. The Fund’s ability to value investments may be impacted by technological issues or errors by pricing services or other third-party service providers.
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Performance Information
The bar chart and table that follow show how the Fund has performed on a calendar year basis and provide an indication of the risks of investing in the Fund. Both assume that all dividends and distributions have been reinvested in the Fund. Two total return versions of the Underlying Index are calculated by the Index Provider - the gross total return index, which is calculated including dividends with no tax withholding, and the net of tax total return index, which is calculated including dividends but withholds taxes based on the maximum withholding tax rates applicable to dividends received by non-resident investors. Past performance (before and after taxes) does not necessarily indicate how the Fund will perform in the future. Supplemental information about the Fund’s performance is shown under the heading Total Return Information in the Supplemental Information section of the Prospectus.
Year by Year Returns1 (Years Ended December 31)

1 The Fund’s year-to-date return as of September 30, 2019 was 2.57%.
The best calendar quarter return during the periods shown above was 35.34% in the 2nd quarter of 2009; the worst was -24.86% in the 3rd quarter of 2011.
Updated performance information, including the Fund’s current NAV, may be obtained by visiting our website at www.iShares.com or by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) (toll free).
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Average Annual Total Returns
(for the periods ended December 31, 2018)
  One Year   Five Years   Ten Years
(Inception date: 10/5/2004)          
Return Before Taxes -12.41%   3.41%   5.76%
Return After Taxes on Distributions1 -12.73%   3.02%   5.49%
Return After Taxes on Distributions and Sale of Fund Shares1 -6.74%   2.86%   4.90%
FTSE China 50 Index (net of tax total return) (Index returns do not reflect deductions for fees, expenses, or income taxes)2 -11.81%   4.17%   6.62%

1 After-tax returns in the table above are calculated using the historical highest individual U.S. federal marginal income tax rates and do not reflect the impact of state or local taxes. Actual after-tax returns depend on an investor’s tax situation and may differ from those shown, and after-tax returns shown are not relevant to tax-exempt investors or investors who hold shares through tax-deferred arrangements, such as 401(k) plans or individual retirement accounts (“IRAs”). Fund returns after taxes on distributions and sales of Fund shares are calculated assuming that an investor has sufficient capital gains of the same character from other investments to offset any capital losses from the sale of Fund shares. As a result, Fund returns after taxes on distributions and sales of Fund shares may exceed Fund returns before taxes and/or returns after taxes on distributions.
2 Index performance beginning on February 10, 2012 reflects net returns where dividends are reinvested into the Index net of withholding tax. Performance before this date reflects dividends being reinvested at gross.
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Management
Investment Adviser. BlackRock Fund Advisors.
Portfolio Managers. Rachel Aguirre, Jennifer Hsui, Alan Mason, Greg Savage and Amy Whitelaw (the “Portfolio Managers”) are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager supervises a portfolio management team. Ms. Aguirre, Ms. Hsui, Mr. Mason, Mr. Savage and Ms. Whitelaw have been Portfolio Managers of the Fund since 2018, 2012, 2016, 2008 and 2018, respectively.
Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares
The Fund is an ETF. Individual shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange. Most investors will buy and sell shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer. The price of Fund shares is based on market price, and because ETF shares trade at market prices rather than at NAV, shares may trade at a price greater than NAV (a premium) or less than NAV (a discount). The Fund will only issue or redeem shares that have been aggregated into blocks of 150,000 shares or multiples thereof (“Creation Units”) to Authorized Participants who have entered into agreements with the Fund's distributor. The Fund generally will issue or redeem Creation Units in return for a designated portfolio of securities (and an amount of cash) that the Fund specifies each day.
Tax Information
The Fund intends to make distributions that may be taxable to you as ordinary income or capital gains, unless you are investing through a tax-deferred arrangement such as a 401(k) plan or an IRA, in which case, your distributions generally will be taxed when withdrawn.
Payments to Broker-Dealers and Other Financial Intermediaries
If you purchase shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary (such as a bank), BFA or other related companies may pay the intermediary for marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems or other services related to the sale or promotion of the Fund. These payments may create a conflict of interest by influencing the broker-dealer or other intermediary and your salesperson to recommend the Fund over another investment. Ask your salesperson or visit your financial intermediary’s website for more information.
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More Information About the Fund
This Prospectus contains important information about investing in the Fund. Please read this Prospectus carefully before you make any investment decisions. Additional information regarding the Fund is available at www.iShares.com.
BFA is the investment adviser to the Fund. Shares of the Fund are listed for trading on NYSE Arca, Inc. (“NYSE Arca”). The market price for a share of the Fund may be different from the Fund’s most recent NAV.
ETFs are funds that trade like other publicly-traded securities. The Fund is designed to track an index. Similar to shares of an index mutual fund, each share of the Fund represents an ownership interest in an underlying portfolio of securities and other instruments intended to track a market index. Unlike shares of a mutual fund, which can be bought and redeemed from the issuing fund by all shareholders at a price based on NAV, shares of the Fund may be purchased or redeemed directly from the Fund at NAV solely by Authorized Participants and only in Creation Unit increments. Also unlike shares of a mutual fund, shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange and trade in the secondary market at market prices that change throughout the day.
The Fund invests in a particular segment of the securities markets and seeks to track the performance of a securities index that is not representative of the market as a whole. The Fund is designed to be used as part of broader asset allocation strategies. Accordingly, an investment in the Fund should not constitute a complete investment program.
An index is a financial calculation, based on a grouping of financial instruments, and is not an investment product, while the Fund is an actual investment portfolio. The performance of the Fund and the Underlying Index may vary for a number of reasons, including transaction costs, non-U.S. currency valuations, asset valuations, corporate actions (such as mergers and spin-offs), timing variances and differences between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index resulting from the Fund's use of representative sampling or from legal restrictions (such as diversification requirements) that apply to the Fund but not to the Underlying Index. From time to time, the Index Provider may make changes to the methodology or other adjustments to the Underlying Index. Unless otherwise determined by BFA, any such change or adjustment will be reflected in the calculation of the Underlying Index performance on a going-forward basis after the effective date of such change or adjustment. Therefore, the Underlying Index performance shown for periods prior to the effective date of any such change or adjustment will generally not be recalculated or restated to reflect such change or adjustment.
“Tracking error” is the divergence of the Fund's performance from that of the Underlying Index. BFA expects that, over time, the Fund’s tracking error will not exceed 5%. Because the Fund uses a representative sampling indexing strategy, it can be expected to have a larger tracking error than if it used a replication indexing strategy. “Replication” is an indexing strategy in which a fund invests in substantially all of the
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securities in its underlying index in approximately the same proportions as in the underlying index.
Under continuous listing standards adopted by the Fund's listing exchange, the Fund is required to confirm on an ongoing basis that the components of the Underlying Index satisfy the applicable listing requirements. In the event that the Underlying Index does not comply with the applicable listing requirements, the Fund is required to rectify such non-compliance by requesting that the Index Provider modify the Underlying Index, adopting a new underlying index, or obtaining relief from the SEC. Failure to rectify such non-compliance may result in the Fund being delisted by the listing exchange.
An investment in the Fund is not a bank deposit and it is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency, BFA or any of its affiliates.
The Fund's investment objective and the Underlying Index may be changed without shareholder approval.
A Further Discussion of Principal Risks
The Fund is subject to various risks, including the principal risks noted below, any of which may adversely affect the Fund’s NAV, trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. You could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund could underperform other investments. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Asian Economic Risk. Many Asian economies have experienced rapid growth and industrialization in recent years, but there is no assurance that this growth rate will be maintained. Other Asian economies, however, have experienced high inflation, high unemployment, currency devaluations and restrictions, and over-extension of credit. Geopolitical hostility, political instability, and economic or environmental events in any one Asian country may have a significant economic effect on the entire Asian region, as well as on major trading partners outside Asia. Any adverse event in the Asian markets may have a significant adverse effect on some or all of the economies of the countries in which the Fund invests. Many Asian countries are subject to political risk, including political instability, corruption and regional conflict with neighboring countries. 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 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. In addition, many Asian countries are subject to social and labor risks associated with demands for improved political, economic and social conditions. These risks, among others, may adversely affect the value of the Fund's investments.
Asset Class Risk. The securities and other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund’s portfolio may underperform in comparison to other securities or indexes that
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track other countries, groups of countries, regions, industries, groups of industries, markets, asset classes or sectors. Various types of securities, currencies and indexes may experience cycles of outperformance and underperformance in comparison to the general financial markets depending upon a number of factors including, among other things, inflation, interest rates, productivity, global demand for local products or resources, and regulation and governmental controls. This may cause the Fund to underperform other investment vehicles that invest in different asset classes.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund, and none of those Authorized Participants is obligated to engage in creation and/or redemption transactions. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as Authorized Participants on an agency basis (i.e., on behalf of other market participants). To the extent that Authorized Participants exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units, Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium or discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts or delisting. Authorized Participant concentration risk may be heightened because ETFs, such as the Fund, that invest in securities issued by non-U.S. issuers or other securities or instruments that are less widely traded often involve greater settlement and operational issues and capital costs for Authorized Participants, which may limit the availability of Authorized Participants.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities of China, a particular issuer or issuers, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class. The Fund may be more adversely affected by the underperformance of those securities, may experience increased price volatility and may be more susceptible to adverse economic, market, political or regulatory occurrences affecting those securities than a fund that does not concentrate its investments.
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's NAV is determined on the basis of the U.S. dollar, investors may lose money if the currency of a non-U.S. market in which the Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of such currency, even if such currency value of the Fund's holdings in that market increases. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the Fund’s NAV may change quickly and without warning.
Custody Risk. Custody risk refers to the risks inherent in the process of clearing and settling trades, as well as the holding of securities by local banks, agents and depositories. Low trading volumes and volatile prices in less developed markets may 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. In general, the less developed a country’s securities markets are, the higher the degree of custody risk.
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Cybersecurity Risk. With the increased use of technologies such as the internet to conduct business, the Fund, Authorized Participants, service providers and the relevant listing exchange are susceptible to operational, information security and related “cyber” risks both directly and through their service providers. Similar types of cybersecurity risks are also present for issuers of securities in which the Fund invests, which could result in material adverse consequences for such issuers and may cause the Fund’s investment in such portfolio companies to lose value. Unlike many other types of risks faced by the Fund, these risks typically are not covered by insurance. In general, cyber incidents can result from deliberate attacks or unintentional events. Cyber incidents include, but are not limited to, gaining unauthorized access to digital systems (e.g., through “hacking” or malicious software coding) for purposes of misappropriating assets or sensitive information, corrupting data, or causing operational disruption. Cyberattacks may also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as causing denial-of-service attacks on websites (i.e., efforts to make network services unavailable to intended users). Recently, geopolitical tensions may have increased the scale and sophistication of deliberate attacks, particularly those from nation-states or from entities with nation-state backing.
Cybersecurity failures by or breaches of the systems of the Fund’s adviser, distributor and other service providers (including, but not limited to, index and benchmark providers, fund accountants, custodians, transfer agents and administrators), market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests, have the ability to cause disruptions and impact business operations, potentially resulting in: financial losses, interference with the Fund’s ability to calculate its NAV, disclosure of confidential trading information, impediments to trading, submission of erroneous trades or erroneous creation or redemption orders, the inability of the Fund or its service providers to transact business, violations of applicable privacy and other laws, regulatory fines, penalties, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensation costs, or additional compliance costs. In addition, cyberattacks may render records of Fund assets and transactions, shareholder ownership of Fund shares, and other data integral to the functioning of the Fund inaccessible or inaccurate or incomplete. Substantial costs may be incurred by the Fund in order to resolve or prevent cyber incidents in the future. While the Fund has established business continuity plans in the event of, and risk management systems to prevent, such cyber incidents, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems, including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified and that prevention and remediation efforts will not be successful or that cyberattacks will go undetected. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cybersecurity plans and systems put in place by service providers to the Fund, issuers in which the Fund invests, the Index Provider, market makers or Authorized Participants. The Fund and its shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result.
Equity Securities Risk. The Fund invests in equity securities, which are subject to changes in value that may be attributable to market perception of a particular issuer or to general stock market fluctuations that affect all issuers. Investments in equity securities may be more volatile than investments in other asset classes. The Underlying Index is comprised of common stocks, which generally subject their
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holders to more risks than preferred stocks and debt securities because common stockholders' claims are subordinated to those of holders of preferred stocks and debt securities upon the bankruptcy of the issuer.
European Economic Risk. The European Union (the “EU”) requires compliance by member states with restrictions on inflation rates, deficits, interest rates and debt levels, as well as fiscal and monetary controls, each of which may significantly affect every country in Europe, including those countries that are not members of the EU. Changes in imports or exports, changes in governmental or EU regulations on trade, changes in the exchange rate of the euro (the common currency of certain EU countries), 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. The European financial markets have historically experienced volatility and adverse trends due to concerns about economic downturns or rising government debt levels in several European countries, including, but not limited to, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ukraine. These events have adversely affected the exchange rate of the euro and may continue to significantly affect European countries.
Responses to 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, may limit future growth and economic recovery or may 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. In a referendum held on June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom (the “U.K.”) resolved to leave the EU (“Brexit”). The referendum has introduced significant uncertainties and instability in the financial markets as the U.K. negotiates its exit from the EU. The outcome of negotiations remains uncertain. U.K. and European businesses are increasingly preparing for a disorderly Brexit, and the consequences for European and U.K. businesses could be severe. The Fund will face risks associated with the potential uncertainty and consequences leading up to and 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 the Fund has exposure and any other assets in which the Fund invests. 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 rises and falls in value. In the longer term, there is likely to be a period
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of significant political, regulatory and commercial uncertainty as the U.K. seeks to negotiate its long-term exit from the EU and the terms of its future trading relationships.
Secessionist movements, such as the Catalan movement in Spain and the independence movement in Scotland, as well as governmental or other responses to such movements, may also create instability and uncertainty in the region. In addition, the national politics of countries in the EU have been unpredictable and subject to influence by disruptive political groups and ideologies. The governments of EU 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 also could impact financial markets. The impact of these events is not clear but could be significant and far-reaching and could adversely affect the value and liquidity of the Fund's investments.
Financials Sector Risk. Companies in the financials sector of an economy are subject to extensive governmental regulation and intervention, which may adversely affect the scope of their activities, the prices they can charge, the amount of capital they must maintain and, potentially, their size. The extent to which the Fund may invest in a company that engages in securities-related activities or banking is limited by applicable law. Governmental regulation may change frequently and may have significant adverse consequences for companies in the financials sector, including effects not intended by such regulation. Recently enacted legislation in the U.S. has relaxed capital requirements and other regulatory burdens on certain U.S. banks. While the effect of the legislation may benefit certain companies in the financials sector, increased risk taking by affected banks may also result in greater overall risk in the U.S. and global financials sector. The impact of changes in capital requirements, or recent or future regulation in various countries, on any individual financial company or on the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. Certain risks may impact the value of investments in the financials sector more severely than those of investments outside this sector, including the risks associated with companies that operate with substantial financial leverage. Companies in the financials sector may also be adversely affected by increases in interest rates and loan losses, decreases in the availability of money or asset valuations, credit rating downgrades and adverse conditions in other related markets. Insurance companies, in particular, may be subject to severe price competition and/or rate regulation, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability. The financials sector is particularly sensitive to fluctuations in interest rates. Chinese financials sector regulation and ownership may be more intrusive than in the U.S. and other developed countries, especially with respect to the regulation of non-Chinese banks and other non-Chinese financial companies. Greater Chinese governmental involvement in the financials sector may pose additional risks for investors. Market conditions in China may be particularly subject to change based on government policy. The financials sector is also a target for cyberattacks, and may experience technology malfunctions and disruptions. In recent years, cyberattacks and technology malfunctions and failures have become increasingly frequent in this sector and have reportedly caused losses to companies in this sector, which may negatively impact the Fund.
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Geographic Risk. A natural or man-made disaster could occur in China. China is located in a part of the world that has historically been prone to natural disasters such as floods, droughts, earthquakes, typhoons or tsunamis, and is economically sensitive to environmental events. Any such event may adversely impact China's economy and the value of the securities in the Fund.
Index-Related Risk. The Fund seeks to achieve a return that corresponds generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Underlying Index as published by the Index Provider. There is no assurance that the Index Provider or any agents that may act on its behalf will compile the Underlying Index accurately, or that the Underlying Index will be determined, composed or calculated accurately. While the Index Provider provides descriptions of what the Underlying Index is designed to achieve, neither the Index Provider nor its agents provide any warranty or accept any liability in relation to the quality, accuracy or completeness of the Underlying Index or its related data, and they do not guarantee that the Underlying Index will be in line with the Index Provider’s methodology. BFA’s mandate as described in this Prospectus is to manage the Fund consistently with the Underlying Index provided by the Index Provider to BFA. BFA does not provide any warranty or guarantee against the Index Provider’s or any agent’s errors. Errors in respect of the quality, accuracy and completeness of the data used to compile the Underlying Index may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, particularly where the indices are less commonly used as benchmarks by funds or managers. Such errors may negatively or positively impact the Fund and its shareholders. For example, during a period where the Underlying Index contains incorrect constituents, the Fund would have market exposure to such constituents and would be underexposed to the Underlying Index’s other constituents. Shareholders should understand that any gains from Index Provider errors will be kept by the Fund and its shareholders and any losses or costs resulting from Index Provider errors will be borne by the Fund and its shareholders.
Apart from scheduled rebalances, the Index Provider or its agents may carry out additional ad hoc rebalances to the Underlying Index in order, for example, to correct an error in the selection of index constituents. When the Underlying Index is rebalanced and the Fund in turn rebalances its portfolio to attempt to increase the correlation between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index, any transaction costs and market exposure arising from such portfolio rebalancing will be borne directly by the Fund and its shareholders. Therefore, errors and additional ad hoc rebalances carried out by the Index Provider or its agents to the Underlying Index may increase the costs to and the tracking error risk of the Fund.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities to which the Fund has exposure. Any issuer of these securities may perform poorly, causing the value of its securities to decline. Poor performance may be caused by poor management decisions, competitive pressures, changes in technology, expiration of patent protection, disruptions in supply, labor problems or shortages, corporate restructurings, fraudulent disclosures, credit deterioration of the issuer or other factors. Issuers may, in times of distress or at their own discretion, decide to reduce or eliminate dividends, which may also cause their stock prices to decline. An
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issuer may also be subject to risks associated with the countries, states and regions in which the issuer resides, invests, sells products, or otherwise conducts operations.
Large-Capitalization Companies Risk. Large-capitalization companies may be less able than smaller capitalization companies to adapt to changing market conditions. Large-capitalization companies may be more mature and subject to more limited growth potential compared with smaller capitalization companies. During different market cycles, the performance of large-capitalization companies has trailed the overall performance of the broader securities markets.
Management Risk. Because BFA uses a representative sampling indexing strategy, the Fund will not fully replicate the Underlying Index and may hold securities not included in the Underlying Index. As a result, the Fund is subject to the risk that BFA’s investment strategy, the implementation of which is subject to a number of constraints, may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns. The value of a security or other asset may decline due to changes in general market conditions, economic trends or events that are not specifically related to the issuer of the security or other asset, or factors that affect a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class. During a general market downturn, multiple asset classes may be negatively affected. Changes in market conditions and interest rates generally do not have the same impact on all types of securities and instruments.
Market Trading Risk
Absence of Active Market. Although shares of the Fund are listed for trading on one or more stock exchanges, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained by market makers or Authorized Participants.
Risk of Secondary Listings. The Fund's shares may be listed or traded on U.S. and non-U.S. stock exchanges other than the U.S. stock exchange where the Fund's primary listing is maintained, and may otherwise be made available to non-U.S. investors through funds or structured investment vehicles similar to depositary receipts. There can be no assurance that the Fund’s shares will continue to trade on any such stock exchange or in any market or that the Fund’s shares will continue to meet the requirements for listing or trading on any exchange or in any market. The Fund's shares may be less actively traded in certain markets than in others, and investors are subject to the execution and settlement risks and market standards of the market where they or their broker direct their trades for execution. Certain information available to investors who trade Fund shares on a U.S. stock exchange during regular U.S. market hours may not be available to investors who trade in other markets, which may result in secondary market prices in such markets being less efficient.
Secondary Market Trading Risk. Shares of the Fund may trade in the secondary market at times when the Fund does not accept orders to purchase or redeem shares. At such times, shares may trade in the secondary market with more significant premiums or
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discounts than might be experienced at times when the Fund accepts purchase and redemption orders.
Secondary market trading in Fund shares may be halted by a stock exchange because of market conditions or for other reasons. In addition, trading in Fund shares on a stock exchange or in any market may be subject to trading halts caused by extraordinary market volatility pursuant to “circuit breaker” rules on the stock exchange or market.
Shares of the Fund, similar to shares of other issuers listed on a stock exchange, may be sold short and are therefore subject to the risk of increased volatility and price decreases associated with being sold short.
Shares of the Fund May Trade at Prices Other Than NAV. Shares of the Fund trade on stock exchanges at prices at, above or below the Fund’s most recent NAV. The NAV of the Fund is calculated at the end of each business day and fluctuates with changes in the market value of the Fund’s holdings. The trading price of the Fund's shares fluctuates continuously throughout trading hours based on both market supply of and demand for Fund shares and the underlying value of the Fund's portfolio holdings or NAV. As a result, the trading prices of the Fund’s shares may deviate significantly from NAV during periods of market volatility. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV. However, because shares can be created and redeemed in Creation Units at NAV, BFA believes that large discounts or premiums to the NAV of the Fund are not likely to be sustained over the long term (unlike shares of many closed-end funds, which frequently trade at appreciable discounts from, and sometimes at premiums to, their NAVs). While the creation/redemption feature is designed to make it more likely that the Fund’s shares normally will trade on stock exchanges at prices close to the Fund’s next calculated NAV, exchange prices are not expected to correlate exactly with the Fund's NAV due to timing reasons, supply and demand imbalances and other factors. In addition, disruptions to creations and redemptions, including disruptions at market makers, Authorized Participants, or other market participants, and during periods of significant market volatility, may result in trading prices for shares of the Fund that differ significantly from its NAV. Authorized Participants may be less willing to create or redeem Fund shares if there is a lack of an active market for such shares or its underlying investments, which may contribute to the Fund’s shares trading at a premium or discount to NAV.
Costs of Buying or Selling Fund Shares. Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange involves two types of costs that apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you will likely incur a brokerage commission and other charges. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread”; that is, the difference between what investors are willing to pay for Fund shares (the “bid” price) and the price at which they are willing to sell Fund shares (the “ask” price). The spread, which varies over time for shares of the Fund based on trading volume and market liquidity, is generally narrower if the Fund has more trading volume and market liquidity and wider if the Fund has less trading volume and market liquidity. In addition, increased market volatility may cause wider spreads. There may also be regulatory and other charges that are incurred as a result of trading activity. Because
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of the costs inherent in buying or selling Fund shares, frequent trading may detract significantly from investment results and an investment in Fund shares may not be advisable for investors who anticipate regularly making small investments through a brokerage account.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund trade on foreign exchanges or in foreign markets that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Nationalization Risk. Investments in China may be subject to loss due to expropriation or nationalization of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and repatriation of capital.
Non-Diversification Risk. The Fund is classified as “non-diversified.” This means that the Fund may invest a large percentage of its assets in securities issued by or representing a small number of issuers. As a result, the Fund may be more susceptible to the risks associated with these particular issuers or to a single economic, political or regulatory occurrence affecting these issuers.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments that track the value of Chinese issuers are subject to the risks of investing in China, including heightened risks of inflation, nationalization and market fluctuations caused by economic and political developments. As a result of investing in securities that track the value of Chinese issuers, the Fund may be subject to increased risk of loss caused by any of the factors listed below:
A lack of market liquidity and market efficiency;
Greater securities price volatility;
Exchange rate fluctuations and exchange controls;
Less availability of public information about issuers;
Limitations on foreign ownership of securities;
Imposition of withholding or other taxes;
Imposition of restrictions on the expatriation of the funds or other assets of the Fund;
Higher transaction and custody costs and delays in settlement procedures;
Difficulties in enforcing contractual obligations;
Lower levels of regulation of the securities markets;
Weaker accounting, disclosure and reporting requirements; and
Legal principles relating to corporate governance, directors’ fiduciary duties and liabilities and stockholders’ rights in markets in which the Fund invests may differ from and/or may not be as extensive or protective as those that apply in the U.S.
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Operational Risk. The Fund is exposed to operational risks arising from a number of factors, including, but not limited to, human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund's service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate to address significant operational risks.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund is not actively managed and may be affected by a general decline in market segments related to the Underlying Index. The Fund invests in securities included in, or representative of, the Underlying Index, regardless of their investment merits. BFA generally does not attempt to invest the Fund's assets in defensive positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Privatization Risk. China has privatized, or has begun a process of privatizing, certain entities and industries. Newly privatized companies may face strong competition from government-sponsored competitors that have not been privatized. In some instances, investors in newly privatized entities have suffered losses due to the inability of the newly privatized entities to adjust quickly to a competitive environment or changing regulatory and legal standards or, in some cases, due to re-nationalization of such privatized entities. There is no assurance that similar losses will not recur.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. Export growth continues to be a major driver of China’s rapid economic growth. To increase exports, China has pursued policies such as liberalizing trading rights and encouraging foreign companies to conduct manufacturing and assembly operations in China. Reduction in spending on Chinese products and services, institution of tariffs or other trade barriers or a downturn in any of the economies of China’s key trading partners may have an adverse impact on the companies in which the Fund invests.
Risk of Investing in China. Investments in Chinese issuers subject the Fund to risks specific to China. Investments in certain Hong Kong-listed securities may also subject the Fund to exposure to Chinese companies.
Political and Social Risk. The Chinese government is authoritarian and has periodically used force to suppress civil dissent. Disparities of wealth and the pace of economic liberalization may lead to social turmoil, violence and labor unrest. In addition, China continues to experience disagreements related to integration with Hong Kong and religious and nationalist disputes in Tibet and Xinjiang. There is also a greater risk in China than in many other countries of currency fluctuations, currency non-convertibility, interest rate fluctuations and higher rates of inflation as a result of internal social unrest or conflicts with other countries. Unanticipated political or social developments may result in sudden and significant investment losses. China's growing income inequality, rapidly aging population and significant environmental issues also are factors that may affect the Chinese economy.
Government Control and Regulations. The Chinese government has implemented significant economic reforms in order to liberalize trade policy, promote foreign investment in the economy, reduce government control of the economy and develop market mechanisms. There can be no assurance these reforms will continue or that
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they will be effective. Despite recent reform and privatizations, government control over certain sectors or enterprises and significant regulation of investment and industry is still pervasive, including the imposition of trading restrictions, a ban on “naked” short selling or the suspension of short selling for certain stocks, restrictions on investment in companies or industries deemed to be sensitive to particular national interests, and the Chinese government may restrict foreign ownership of Chinese corporations and/or the repatriation of assets by foreign investors. Limitations or restrictions on foreign ownership of securities may have adverse effects on the liquidity and performance of the Fund, and could lead to higher tracking error. Chinese government intervention in the market may have a negative impact on market sentiment, which may in turn affect the performance of the Chinese economy and the Fund’s investments. Chinese markets generally continue to experience inefficiency, volatility and pricing anomalies that may be connected to governmental influence, lack of publicly-available information, and political and social instability.
Economic Risk. The Chinese economy has grown rapidly in the recent past and there is no assurance that this growth rate will be maintained. In fact, the Chinese economy may experience a significant slowdown as a result of, among other things, a deterioration in global demand for Chinese exports, as well as contraction in spending on domestic goods by Chinese consumers. In addition, China may experience substantial rates of inflation or economic recessions, which would have a negative effect on its economy and securities market. Delays in enterprise restructuring, slow development of well-functioning financial markets and widespread corruption have also hindered performance of the Chinese economy. China continues to receive substantial pressure from trading partners to liberalize official currency exchange rates.
Expropriation Risk. The Chinese government maintains a major role in economic policymaking and investing in China involves risk of loss due to expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and on repatriation of capital invested.
Chinese Equity Markets. The Fund may invest in H-shares (securities of companies incorporated in the People's Republic of China (“PRC”) that are denominated in Hong Kong dollars and listed on the SEHK) and B-shares (securities of companies incorporated in the PRC and listed for foreign investment on stock exchanges in the PRC). The Fund may also invest in certain Hong Kong listed securities known as Red-Chips (securities issued by companies incorporated in certain foreign jurisdictions, which are controlled, directly or indirectly, by entities owned by the national government or local governments in the PRC and derive substantial revenues from or allocate substantial assets in the PRC) and P-Chips (securities issued by companies incorporated in certain foreign jurisdictions, which are controlled, directly or indirectly, by individuals in the PRC and derive substantial revenues from or allocate substantial assets in the PRC). Securities listed on the Shanghai or Shenzhen stock exchanges are divided into two classes: A-shares, which are mostly limited to domestic investors and denominated in renminbi, and B-shares, which are allocated for both international and domestic investors and denominated in U.S. dollars on the Shanghai exchange and Hong Kong dollars on the Shenzhen exchange. The A-shares market is generally subject to greater government restrictions, including trading suspensions, which may
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lead to increased liquidity risks. The B-shares market is generally smaller, less liquid and has a smaller issuer base than the A-shares market, which may lead to significant price volatility. B-shares, H-shares, P-Chips or Red-Chips of issuers that also issue A-shares may trade at significant discounts to their A-shares counterparts. The issuance of B-shares and H-shares by Chinese companies and the ability to obtain a “back-door listing” through Red-Chips or P-Chips are still regarded by the Chinese authorities as an experiment in economic reform. “Back-door listing” is a means by which a mainland Chinese company issues Red-Chips or P-Chips to obtain quick access to international listing and international capital. All of these share mechanisms are relatively untested and subject to political and economic policies in China. Chinese securities have recently experienced substantial volatility, which is expected to continue in the future.
Hong Kong Political Risk. Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997 as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the PRC under the principle of “one country, two systems.” Although China is obligated to maintain the current capitalist economic and social system of Hong Kong through June 30, 2047, the continuation of economic and social freedoms enjoyed in Hong Kong is dependent on the government of China. Since 1997, there have been tensions between the Chinese government and many people in Hong Kong who perceive China as tightening of control over Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous liberal political, economic, legal, and social framework. Recent protests and unrest have increased tensions even further. Due to the interconnected nature of the Hong Kong and Chinese economies, this instability in Hong Kong may cause uncertainty in the Hong Kong and Chinese markets. In addition, the Hong Kong dollar trades at a fixed exchange rate in relation to (or, is “pegged” to) the U.S. dollar, which has contributed to the growth and stability of the Hong Kong economy. However, it is uncertain how long the currency peg will continue or what effect the establishment of an alternative exchange rate system would have on the Hong Kong economy. Because the Fund's NAV is denominated in U.S. dollars, the establishment of an alternative exchange rate system could result in a decline in the Fund's NAV.
Security Risk. China has strained international relations with Taiwan, India, Russia and other neighbors due to territorial disputes, historical animosities, defense concerns and other security concerns. Relations between China's Han ethnic majority and other ethnic groups in China, including Tibetans and Uighurs, are also strained and have been marked by protests and violence. These situations may cause uncertainty in the Chinese market and may adversely affect the Chinese economy. In addition, conflict on the Korean Peninsula could adversely affect the Chinese economy.
Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets. Investments in emerging market issuers are subject to a greater risk of loss than investments in issuers located or operating in more developed markets. This is due to, among other things, the potential for greater market volatility, lower trading volume, higher levels of inflation, political and economic instability, greater risk of a market shutdown and more governmental limitations on foreign investments in emerging market countries than are typically found in more developed markets. Moreover, emerging markets often have less uniformity in accounting and reporting requirements, less reliable securities valuations and greater risks associated with custody of securities than developed markets. In addition, emerging markets often have greater risk of capital controls through such measures as taxes or interest rate control than developed markets. Certain emerging market
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countries may also lack the infrastructure necessary to attract large amounts of foreign trade and investment. Local securities markets in emerging market countries may trade a small number of securities and may be unable to respond effectively to changes in trading volume, potentially making prompt liquidation of holdings difficult or impossible at times. Settlement procedures in emerging market countries are frequently less developed and reliable than those in the U.S. (and other developed countries). In addition, significant delays may occur in certain markets in registering the transfer of securities. Settlement or registration problems may make it more difficult for the Fund to value its portfolio securities and could cause the Fund to miss attractive investment opportunities.
Investing in emerging market countries involves a higher risk of loss due to expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and on repatriation of capital invested in certain emerging market countries.
Securities Lending Risk. The Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (“BTC”), the Fund's securities lending agent, will take into account the tax impact to shareholders of substitute payments for dividends when managing the Fund's securities lending program.
Tracking Error Risk. The Fund may be subject to tracking error, which is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities and other instruments held in the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences (including, as applicable, differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the Fund's valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the Fund's NAV), transaction costs incurred by the Fund, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or interest, the requirements to maintain pass-through tax treatment, portfolio transactions carried out to minimize the distribution of capital gains to shareholders, changes to the Underlying Index or the costs to the 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 the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not. INDEX ETFS THAT TRACK INDICES WITH SIGNIFICANT WEIGHT IN EMERGING MARKETS ISSUERS MAY EXPERIENCE HIGHER TRACKING ERROR THAN OTHER INDEX ETFS THAT DO NOT TRACK SUCH INDICES.
U.S. Economic Risk. The U.S. is a significant, and in some cases the most significant, trading partner of, or foreign investor in, China. As a result, economic conditions in China 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
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adverse effect on the economic conditions in China and, as a result, securities to which the Fund has exposure.
Valuation Risk. The price the Fund could receive upon the sale of a security or other asset may differ from the Fund's valuation of the security or other asset and from the value used by the Underlying Index, particularly for securities or other assets that trade in low volume or volatile markets or that are valued using a fair value methodology as a result of trade suspensions or for other reasons. Because non-U.S. exchanges may be open on days when the Fund does not price its shares, the value of the securities or other assets in the Fund’s portfolio may change on days or during time periods when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund’s shares. In addition, for purposes of calculating the Fund's NAV, the value of assets denominated in non-U.S. currencies is converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. This conversion may result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the Fund's NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund's performance and the performance of the Underlying Index. Authorized Participants who purchase or redeem Fund shares on days when the Fund is holding fair-valued securities may receive fewer or more shares, or lower or higher redemption proceeds, than they would have received had the Fund not fair-valued securities or used a different valuation methodology. The Fund’s ability to value investments may be impacted by technological issues or errors by pricing services or other third-party service providers.
A Further Discussion of Other Risks
The Fund may also be subject to certain other risks associated with its investments and investment strategies. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Close-Out Risk for Qualified Financial Contracts. Regulations adopted by global prudential regulators that are now in effect require counterparties that are part of U.S. or foreign global systemically important banking organizations to include contractual restrictions on close-out and cross-default in agreements relating to qualified financial contracts. Qualified financial contracts include agreements relating to swaps, currency forwards and other derivatives as well as repurchase agreements and securities lending agreements. The restrictions prevent the Fund from closing out a qualified financial contract during a specified time period if the counterparty is subject to resolution proceedings and prohibit the Fund from exercising default rights due to a receivership or similar proceeding of an affiliate of the counterparty. These requirements may increase credit risk and other risks to the Fund.
Dividend Risk. There is no guarantee that issuers of the stocks held by the Fund will declare dividends in the future or that, if declared, such dividends will remain at current levels or increase over time.
Illiquid Investments Risk. The Fund may invest up to an aggregate amount of 15% of its net assets in illiquid investments. An illiquid investment is any investment that the 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
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investment. To the extent the Fund holds illiquid investments, the illiquid investments may reduce the returns of the Fund because the Fund may be unable to transact at advantageous times or prices. An investment may be illiquid due to, among other things, the reduced number and capacity of traditional market participants to make a market in securities or instruments or the lack of an active market for such securities or instruments. To the extent that the Fund invests in securities or instruments with substantial market and/or credit risk, the Fund will tend to have increased exposure to the risks associated with illiquid investments. Liquid investments may become illiquid after purchase by the Fund, particularly during periods of market turmoil. There can be no assurance that a security or instrument that is deemed to be liquid when purchased will continue to be liquid for as long as it is held by the Fund, and any security or instrument held by the Fund may be deemed an illiquid investment pursuant to the Fund’s liquidity risk management program. Illiquid investments may be harder to value, especially in changing markets. Although the Fund primarily seeks to redeem shares of the Fund on an in-kind basis, if the Fund is forced to sell underlying investments at reduced prices or under unfavorable conditions to meet redemption requests or for other cash needs, the Fund may suffer a loss. This may be magnified in a rising interest rate environment or other circumstances where redemptions from the Fund may be greater than normal. Other market participants may be attempting to liquidate holdings at the same time as the Fund, causing increased supply of the Fund’s underlying investments in the market and contributing to illiquid investments risk and downward pricing pressure. During periods of market volatility, liquidity in the market for the Fund’s shares may be impacted by the liquidity in the market for the underlying securities or instruments held by the Fund, which could lead to the Fund’s shares trading at a premium or discount to the Fund’s NAV.
Oil and Gas Industry Risk. The profitability of companies in the oil and gas industry is related to worldwide energy prices, exploration costs and production spending. Companies in the oil and gas industry may be at risk for environmental damage claims and other types of litigation. Companies in the oil and gas industry may be adversely affected by: natural disasters or other catastrophes; changes in exchange rates, interest rates or economic conditions; technological developments, prices for competitive energy services and increased competition; changes in the actual or perceived availability of oil deposits; imposition of import controls, changes in tax treatment or government regulation or government intervention; negative public perception; or unfavorable events in the regions where companies operate (e.g., expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property, imposition of restrictions on foreign investments or repatriation of capital, military coups, social or political unrest, violence or labor unrest). Companies in the oil and gas industry may have significant capital investments in, or engage in transactions involving, emerging market countries, which may heighten these risks. Companies that own or operate gas pipelines are subject to certain risks, including pipeline and equipment leaks and ruptures, explosions, fires, unscheduled downtime, transportation interruptions, discharges or releases of toxic or hazardous gases and other environmental risks.
Technology Sector Risk. Technology companies, including information technology companies, face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on a company’s profit margins. Technology companies may
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have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or personnel. The products of technology companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments, frequent new product introduction, unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. Companies in the technology sector are heavily dependent on patent and other intellectual property rights. A technology company’s loss or impairment of these rights may adversely affect the company’s profitability. 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.
Telecommunications Sector Risk. 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 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 telecommunications companies obsolete. Telecommunications providers 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.
Threshold/Underinvestment Risk. If certain aggregate and/or fund-level ownership thresholds are reached through transactions undertaken by BFA, its affiliates or the Fund, or as a result of third-party transactions or actions by an issuer or regulator, the ability of BFA and its affiliates on behalf of clients (including the Fund) to purchase or dispose of investments, or exercise rights or undertake business transactions, may be restricted by regulation or otherwise impaired. The capacity of the Fund to make investments in certain securities may be affected by the relevant threshold limits, and such limitations may have adverse effects on the liquidity and performance of the Fund’s portfolio holdings compared to the performance of the Underlying Index. This may increase the risk of the Fund being underinvested to the Underlying Index and increase the risk of tracking error.
For example, in certain circumstances where the Fund invests in securities issued by companies that operate in certain regulated industries or in certain emerging or international markets, or is subject to corporate or regulatory ownership restrictions, or invests in certain futures or other derivative transactions, there may be limits on the aggregate and/or fund-level amount invested or voted by BFA and its affiliates for their proprietary accounts and for client accounts (including the Fund) that may not be
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exceeded without the grant of a license or other regulatory or corporate consent or, if exceeded, may cause BFA and its affiliates, the Fund or other client accounts to suffer disadvantages or business restrictions.
Portfolio Holdings Information
A description of the Trust's policies and procedures with respect to the disclosure of the Fund’s portfolio securities is available in the Fund's Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”). The top holdings of the Fund can be found at www.iShares.com. Fund fact sheets provide information regarding the Fund's top holdings and may be requested by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737).
Management
Investment Adviser. As investment adviser, BFA has overall responsibility for the general management and administration of the Fund. BFA provides an investment program for the Fund and manages the investment of the Fund’s assets. In managing the Fund, BFA may draw upon the research and expertise of its asset management affiliates with respect to certain portfolio securities. In seeking to achieve the Fund's investment objective, BFA uses teams of portfolio managers, investment strategists and other investment specialists. This team approach brings together many disciplines and leverages BFA’s extensive resources.
Pursuant to the Investment Advisory Agreement between BFA and the Trust (entered into on behalf of the Fund), BFA is responsible for substantially all expenses of the Fund, except the management fees, interest expenses, taxes, expenses incurred with respect to the acquisition and disposition of portfolio securities and the execution of portfolio transactions, including brokerage commissions, distribution fees or expenses, litigation expenses and any extraordinary expenses (as determined by a majority of the Trustees who are not “interested persons” of the Trust).
For its investment advisory services to the Fund, BFA is paid a management fee from the Fund based on the average daily net assets of the Fund. The management fee is calculated as follows: 0.74% per annum of net assets less than or equal to $6.0 billion, plus 0.67% per annum of net assets over $6.0 billion, up to and including $9.0 billion, plus 0.60% per annum of net assets over $9.0 billion, up to and including $12.0 billion, plus 0.54% per annum of net assets in excess of $12.0 billion. Based on the assets of the Fund as of July 31, 2019, for its investment advisory services to the Fund, BFA was paid a management fee from the Fund, as a percentage of the Fund’s average daily net assets, at the annual rate of 0.74%. BFA may from time to time voluntarily waive and/or reimburse fees or expenses in order to limit total annual fund operating expenses (excluding acquired fund fees and expenses, if any). Any such voluntary waiver or reimbursement may be eliminated by BFA at any time.
BFA is located at 400 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. It is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc. (“BlackRock”). As of September 30, 2019, BFA and its affiliates provided investment advisory services for assets in excess of $6.96 trillion. BFA and its affiliates trade and invest for their own accounts in the actual securities and types of securities in which the Fund may also invest, which may affect the price of such securities.
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A discussion regarding the basis for the approval by the Trust's Board of Trustees (the “Board”) of the Investment Advisory Agreement with BFA is available in the Fund's Annual Report for the period ended July 31.
Portfolio Managers. Rachel Aguirre, Jennifer Hsui, Alan Mason, Greg Savage and Amy Whitelaw are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager is responsible for various functions related to portfolio management, including, but not limited to, investing cash inflows, coordinating with members of his or her portfolio management team to focus on certain asset classes, implementing investment strategy, researching and reviewing investment strategy and overseeing members of his or her portfolio management team that have more limited responsibilities.
Rachel Aguirre has been with BlackRock since 2006, including her years with Barclays Global Investors (“BGI”), which merged with BlackRock in 2009. Ms. Aguirre has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 2006 and has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2018.
Jennifer Hsui has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a senior portfolio manager since 2007. Prior to that, Ms. Hsui was a portfolio manager from 2006 to 2007 for Barclays Global Fund Advisors (“BGFA”). Ms. Hsui has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2012.
Alan Mason has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 1991. Mr. Mason has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2016.
Greg Savage has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a senior portfolio manager since 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Savage was a portfolio manager from 2001 to 2006 for BGFA. Mr. Savage has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2008.
Amy Whitelaw has been with BlackRock since 1999, including her years with BGI, which merged with BlackRock in 2009. Ms. Whitelaw has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 2009 and has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2018.
The Fund's SAI provides additional information about the Portfolio Managers' compensation, other accounts managed by the Portfolio Managers and the Portfolio Managers' ownership (if any) of shares in the Fund.
Administrator, Custodian and Transfer Agent. State Street Bank and Trust Company (“State Street”) is the administrator, custodian and transfer agent for the Fund.
Conflicts of Interest. The investment activities of BFA and its affiliates (including BlackRock and its subsidiaries (collectively, the “Affiliates”)), The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (which, through a subsidiary, has a significant economic interest in BlackRock) and its subsidiaries (each with The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., an “Entity” and collectively, the “Entities”), and their respective directors, officers or employees, in the management of, or their interest in, their own accounts and other accounts they manage, may present conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA, its Affiliates and the Entities provide investment management services to other funds and discretionary managed accounts that may
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follow investment programs similar to that of the Fund. BFA, its Affiliates and the Entities are involved worldwide with a broad spectrum of financial services and asset management activities and may engage in the ordinary course of business in activities in which their interests or the interests of their clients may conflict with those of the Fund. BFA or one or more Affiliates or Entities act, or may act, as an investor, investment banker, research provider, investment manager, commodity pool operator, commodity trading advisor, financier, underwriter, adviser, market maker, trader, prime broker, lender, index provider, agent and/or principal, and have other direct and indirect interests in securities, currencies, commodities, derivatives and other instruments in which the Fund may directly or indirectly invest. Thus, it is likely that the Fund will have multiple business relationships with and will invest in, engage in transactions with, make voting decisions with respect to, or obtain services from, entities for which an Affiliate or an Entity performs or seeks to perform investment banking or other services. Specifically, the Fund may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies with which an Affiliate or an Entity has developed or is trying to develop investment banking relationships or in which an Affiliate or an Entity has significant debt or equity investments or other interests. The Fund may also invest in issuances (such as structured notes) by entities for which an Affiliate or an Entity provides and is compensated for cash management services relating to the proceeds from the sale of such issuances. The Fund also may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies for which an Affiliate or an Entity provides or may in the future provide research coverage. An Affiliate or an Entity may have business relationships with, and purchase or distribute or sell services or products from or to, distributors, consultants or others who recommend the Fund or who engage in transactions with or for the Fund, and may receive compensation for such services. The Fund may also make brokerage and other payments to Entities in connection with the Fund's portfolio investment transactions. BFA or one or more Affiliates or Entities may engage in proprietary trading and advise accounts and funds that have investment objectives similar to those of the Fund and/or that engage in and compete for transactions in the same types of securities, currencies and other instruments as the Fund. This may include transactions in securities issued by other open-end and closed-end investment companies (which may include investment companies that are affiliated with the Fund and BFA, to the extent permitted under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”)). The trading activities of BFA and these Affiliates or Entities are carried out without reference to positions held directly or indirectly by the Fund and may result in BFA or an Affiliate or an Entity having positions in certain securities that are senior or junior to, or have interests different from or adverse to, the securities that are owned by the Fund.
Neither BlackRock nor any Affiliate is under any obligation to share any investment opportunity, idea or strategy with the Fund. As a result, an Affiliate may compete with the Fund for appropriate investment opportunities. The results of the Fund's investment activities, therefore, may differ from those of an Affiliate and of other accounts managed by an Affiliate, and it is possible that the Fund could sustain losses during periods in which one or more Affiliates and other accounts achieve profits on their trading for proprietary or other accounts. The opposite result is also possible.
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In addition, the Fund may, from time to time, enter into transactions in which BFA or an Affiliate or an Entity or its or their directors, officers or employees or other clients have an adverse interest. Furthermore, transactions undertaken by clients advised or managed by BFA, its Affiliates or Entities may adversely impact the Fund. Transactions by one or more clients or by BFA, its Affiliates or Entities or their directors, officers or employees, may have the effect of diluting or otherwise disadvantaging the values, prices or investment strategies of the Fund.
The Fund's activities may be limited because of regulatory restrictions applicable to BFA, one or more Affiliates or Entities and/or their internal policies designed to comply with such restrictions.
Under a securities lending program approved by the Board, the Fund has retained BTC, an Affiliate of BFA, to serve as the securities lending agent for the Fund to the extent that the Fund participates in the securities lending program. For these services, the securities lending agent will receive a fee from the Fund, including a fee based on the returns earned on the Fund’s investment of the cash received as collateral for the loaned securities. In addition, one or more Affiliates or Entities may be among the entities to which the Fund may lend its portfolio securities under the securities lending program.
The activities of BFA, its Affiliates and Entities and their respective directors, officers or employees, may give rise to other conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA has adopted policies and procedures designed to address these potential conflicts of interest. See the SAI for further information.
Shareholder Information
Additional shareholder information, including how to buy and sell shares of the Fund, is available free of charge by calling toll-free: 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or visiting our website at www.iShares.com.
Buying and Selling Shares. Shares of the Fund may be acquired or redeemed directly from the Fund only in Creation Units or multiples thereof, as discussed in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus. Only an Authorized Participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. Once created, shares of the Fund generally trade in the secondary market in amounts less than a Creation Unit.
Shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange for trading during the trading day. Shares can be bought and sold throughout the trading day like shares of other publicly-traded companies. The Trust does not impose any minimum investment for shares of the Fund purchased on an exchange or otherwise in the secondary market. The Fund's shares trade under the ticker symbol “FXI.”
Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange or other secondary market involves two types of costs that may apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you may incur a brokerage commission and other charges. The commission is frequently a fixed amount and may be a significant proportional cost for investors seeking to buy or sell small amounts of shares. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread,” that is, any difference between the
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bid price and the ask price. The spread varies over time for shares of the Fund based on the Fund’s trading volume and market liquidity, and is generally lower if the Fund has high trading volume and market liquidity, and higher if the Fund has little trading volume and market liquidity (which is often the case for funds that are newly launched or small in size). The Fund's spread may also be impacted by the liquidity or illiquidity of the underlying securities held by the Fund, particularly for newly launched or smaller funds or in instances of significant volatility of the underlying securities.
The Board has adopted a policy of not monitoring for frequent purchases and redemptions of Fund shares (“frequent trading”) that appear to attempt to take advantage of a potential arbitrage opportunity presented by a lag between a change in the value of the Fund’s portfolio securities after the close of the primary markets for the Fund’s portfolio securities and the reflection of that change in the Fund’s NAV (“market timing”), because the Fund sells and redeems its shares directly through transactions that are in-kind and/or for cash, subject to the conditions described below under Creations and Redemptions. The Board has not adopted a policy of monitoring for other frequent trading activity because shares of the Fund are listed for trading on a national securities exchange.
The national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed is open for trading Monday through Friday and is closed on weekends and the following holidays (or the days on which they are observed): New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The Fund’s primary listing exchange is NYSE Arca.
Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act restricts investments by investment companies, including foreign investment companies, in the securities of other investment companies. Registered investment companies are permitted to invest in the Fund beyond the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1), subject to certain terms and conditions set forth in SEC rules or in an SEC exemptive order issued to the Trust. In order for a registered investment company to invest in shares of the Fund beyond the limitations of Section 12(d)(1) pursuant to the exemptive relief obtained by the Trust, the registered investment company must enter into an agreement with the Trust. Foreign investment companies are permitted to invest in the Fund only up to the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1), subject to any applicable SEC no-action relief.
Book Entry. Shares of the Fund are held in book-entry form, which means that no stock certificates are issued. The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) or its nominee is the record owner of, and holds legal title to, all outstanding shares of the Fund.
Investors owning shares of the Fund are beneficial owners as shown on the records of DTC or its participants. DTC serves as the securities depository for shares of the Fund. DTC participants include securities brokers and dealers, banks, trust companies, clearing corporations and other institutions that directly or indirectly maintain a custodial relationship with DTC. As a beneficial owner of shares, you are not entitled to receive physical delivery of stock certificates or to have shares registered in your name, and you are not considered a registered owner of shares. Therefore, to exercise any right as an owner of shares, you must rely upon the procedures of DTC and its
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participants. These procedures are the same as those that apply to any other securities that you hold in book-entry or “street name” form.
Share Prices. The trading prices of the Fund’s shares in the secondary market generally differ from the Fund’s daily NAV and are affected by market forces such as the supply of and demand for ETF shares and shares of underlying securities held by the Fund, economic conditions and other factors. Information regarding the intraday value of shares of the Fund, also known as the “indicative optimized portfolio value” (“IOPV”), is disseminated every 15 seconds throughout each trading day by the national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed or by market data vendors or other information providers. The IOPV is based on the current market value of the securities or other assets and/or cash required to be deposited in exchange for a Creation Unit. The IOPV does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities or other assets held by the Fund at a particular point in time or the best possible valuation of the current portfolio. Therefore, the IOPV should not be viewed as a “real-time” update of the Fund's NAV, which is computed only once a day. The IOPV is generally determined by using both current market quotations and price quotations obtained from broker-dealers and other market intermediaries that may trade in the portfolio securities or other assets held by the Fund. The quotations of certain Fund holdings may not be updated during U.S. trading hours if such holdings do not trade in the U.S. The Fund is not involved in, or responsible for, the calculation or dissemination of the IOPV and makes no representation or warranty as to its accuracy.
Determination of Net Asset Value. The NAV of the Fund normally is determined once daily Monday through Friday, generally as of the regularly scheduled close of business of the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) (normally 4:00 p.m., Eastern time) on each day that the NYSE is open for trading, based on prices at the time of closing, provided that (i) any Fund assets or liabilities denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar are translated into U.S. dollars at the prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers (as detailed below) and (ii) U.S. fixed-income assets may be valued as of the announced closing time for trading in fixed-income instruments in a particular market or exchange. The NAV of the Fund is calculated by dividing the value of the net assets of the Fund (i.e., the value of its total assets less total liabilities) by the total number of outstanding shares of the Fund, generally rounded to the nearest cent.
The value of the securities and other assets and liabilities held by the Fund are determined pursuant to valuation policies and procedures approved by the Board.
Equity investments and other instruments for which market quotations are readily available, as well as investments in an underlying fund, if any, are valued at market value, which is generally determined using the last reported official closing price or, if a reported closing price is not available, the last traded price on the exchange or market on which the security is primarily traded at the time of valuation.
The Fund invests in non-U.S. securities. Foreign currency exchange rates with respect to the portfolio securities denominated in non-U.S. currencies are generally determined as of 4:00 p.m., London time. Non-U.S. securities held by the Fund may trade on weekends or other days when the Fund does not price its shares. As a result,
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the Fund’s NAV may change on days when Authorized Participants will not be able to purchase or redeem Fund shares.
Generally, trading in non-U.S. securities, U.S. government securities, money market instruments and certain fixed-income securities is substantially completed each day at various times prior to the close of business on the NYSE. The values of such securities used in computing the NAV of the Fund are determined as of such times.
When market quotations are not readily available or are believed by BFA to be unreliable, the Fund’s investments are valued at fair value. Fair value determinations are made by BFA in accordance with policies and procedures approved by the Board. BFA may conclude that a market quotation is not readily available or is unreliable if a security or other asset or liability does not have a price source due to its lack of trading or other reasons, if a market quotation differs significantly from recent price quotations or otherwise no longer appears to reflect fair value, where the security or other asset or liability is thinly traded, when there is a significant event subsequent to the most recent market quotation, or if the trading market on which a security is listed is suspended or closed and no appropriate alternative trading market is available. A “significant event” is deemed to occur if BFA determines, in its reasonable business judgment prior to or at the time of pricing the Fund’s assets or liabilities, that the event is likely to cause a material change to the closing market price of one or more assets or liabilities held by the Fund. Non-U.S. securities whose values are affected by volatility that occurs in the local markets or in related or highly correlated assets (e.g., American Depositary Receipts, Global Depositary Receipts or substantially identical ETFs) on a trading day after the close of non-U.S. securities markets may be fair valued.
Fair value represents a good faith approximation of the value of an asset or liability. The fair value of an asset or liability held by the Fund is the amount the Fund might reasonably expect to receive from the current sale of that asset or the cost to extinguish that liability in an arm’s-length transaction. Valuing the Fund’s investments using fair value pricing will result in prices that may differ from current market valuations and that may not be the prices at which those investments could have been sold during the period in which the particular fair values were used. Use of fair value prices and certain current market valuations could result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the Fund’s NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund’s performance and the performance of the Underlying Index.
The value of assets or liabilities denominated in non-U.S. currencies will be converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. Use of a rate different from the rate used by the Index Provider may adversely affect the Fund’s ability to track the Underlying Index.
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Dividends and Distributions
General Policies. Dividends from net investment income, if any, generally are declared and paid at least once a year by the Fund. Distributions of net realized securities gains, if any, generally are declared and paid once a year, but the Trust may make distributions on a more frequent basis for the Fund. The Trust reserves the right to declare special distributions if, in its reasonable discretion, such action is necessary or advisable to preserve its status as a regulated investment company (“RIC”) or to avoid imposition of income or excise taxes on undistributed income or realized gains.
Dividends and other distributions on shares of the Fund are distributed on a pro rata basis to beneficial owners of such shares. Dividend payments are made through DTC participants and indirect participants to beneficial owners then of record with proceeds received from the Fund.
Dividend Reinvestment Service. No dividend reinvestment service is provided by the Trust. Broker-dealers may make available the DTC book-entry Dividend Reinvestment Service for use by beneficial owners of the Fund for reinvestment of their dividend distributions. Beneficial owners should contact their broker to determine the availability and costs of the service and the details of participation therein. Brokers may require beneficial owners to adhere to specific procedures and timetables. If this service is available and used, dividend distributions of both income and realized gains will be automatically reinvested in additional whole shares of the Fund purchased in the secondary market.
Taxes. As with any investment, you should consider how your investment in shares of the Fund will be taxed. The tax information in this Prospectus is provided as general information, based on current law. You should consult your own tax professional about the tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund.
Unless your investment in Fund shares is made through a tax-exempt entity or tax-deferred retirement account, such as an IRA, in which case your distributions generally will be taxable when withdrawn, you need to be aware of the possible tax consequences when the Fund makes distributions or you sell Fund shares.
Taxes on Distributions. Distributions from the Fund’s net investment income (other than qualified dividend income), including distributions of income from securities lending and distributions out of the Fund’s net short-term capital gains, if any, are taxable to you as ordinary income. Distributions by the Fund of net long-term capital gains, if any, in excess of net short-term capital losses (capital gain dividends) are taxable to you as long-term capital gains, regardless of how long you have held the Fund’s shares. Distributions by the Fund that qualify as qualified dividend income are taxable to you at long-term capital gain rates. Long-term capital gains and qualified dividend income are generally eligible for taxation at a maximum rate of 15% or 20% for non-corporate shareholders, depending on whether their income exceeds certain threshold amounts. In addition, a 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax is imposed on “net investment income,” including, but not limited to, interest, dividends, and net gain, of U.S. individuals with income exceeding $200,000 (or $250,000 if married and filing jointly) and of estates and trusts.
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Dividends will be qualified dividend income to you if they are attributable to qualified dividend income received by the Fund. Generally, qualified dividend income includes dividend income from taxable U.S. corporations and qualified non-U.S. corporations, provided that the Fund satisfies certain holding period requirements in respect of the stock of such corporations and has not hedged its position in the stock in certain ways. Substitute dividends received by the Fund with respect to dividends paid on securities lent out will not be qualified dividend income. For this purpose, a qualified non-U.S. corporation means any non-U.S. corporation that is eligible for benefits under a comprehensive income tax treaty with the U.S., which includes an exchange of information program, or if the stock with respect to which the dividend was paid is readily tradable on an established U.S. securities market. Under current Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) guidance, the U.S. has an appropriate comprehensive income tax treaty with China, but not with Hong Kong, which is treated as a separate jurisdiction for U.S. income tax purposes. The term excludes a corporation that is a passive foreign investment company.
Dividends received by the Fund from a real estate investment trust (“REIT”) or another RIC generally are qualified dividend income only to the extent such dividend distributions are made out of qualified dividend income received by such REIT or RIC. Additionally, it is expected that dividends received by the Fund from a REIT and distributed to a shareholder generally will be taxable to the shareholder as ordinary income. However, for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2026, the Fund may report dividends eligible for a 20% “qualified business income” deduction for non-corporate U.S. shareholders to the extent the Fund’s income is derived from ordinary REIT dividends, reduced by allocable Fund expenses.
For a dividend to be treated as qualified dividend income, the dividend must be received with respect to a share of stock held without being hedged by the Fund, and with respect to a share of the Fund held without being hedged by you, for 61 days during the 121-day period beginning at the date which is 60 days before the date on which such share becomes ex-dividend with respect to such dividend or, in the case of certain preferred stock, 91 days during the 181-day period beginning 90 days before such date.
In general, your distributions are subject to U.S. federal income tax for the year when they are paid. Certain distributions paid in January, however, may be treated as paid on December 31 of the prior year.
If the Fund’s distributions exceed current and accumulated earnings and profits, all or a portion of the distributions made in the taxable year may be recharacterized as a return of capital to shareholders. Distributions in excess of the Fund’s minimum distribution requirements, but not in excess of the Fund’s earnings and profits, will be taxable to shareholders and will not constitute nontaxable returns of capital. A return of capital distribution generally will not be taxable but will reduce the shareholder’s cost basis and result in a higher capital gain or lower capital loss when those shares on which the distribution was received are sold. Once a shareholder's cost basis is reduced to zero, further distributions will be treated as capital gain, if the shareholder holds shares of the Fund as capital assets.
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Dividends, interest and capital gains earned by the Fund with respect to securities issued by non-U.S. issuers may give rise to withholding, capital gains and other taxes imposed by non-U.S. countries. Tax conventions between certain countries and the U.S. may reduce or eliminate such taxes. If more than 50% of the total assets of the Fund at the close of a year consists of non-U.S. stocks or securities (generally, for this purpose, depositary receipts, no matter where traded, of non-U.S. companies are treated as “non-U.S.”), generally the Fund may “pass through” to you certain non-U.S. income taxes (including withholding taxes) paid by the Fund. This means that you would be considered to have received as an additional dividend your share of such non-U.S. taxes, but you may be entitled to either a corresponding tax deduction in calculating your taxable income, or, subject to certain limitations, a credit in calculating your U.S. federal income tax.
For purposes of foreign tax credits for U.S. shareholders of the Fund, foreign capital gains taxes may not produce associated foreign source income, limiting the availability of such credits for U.S. persons.
If you are neither a resident nor a citizen of the U.S. or if you are a non-U.S. corporation (other than a pass-through entity to the extent owned by U.S. persons), the Fund’s ordinary income dividends (which include distributions of net short-term capital gains) will generally be subject to a 30% U.S. withholding tax, unless a lower treaty rate applies, provided that withholding tax will generally not apply to any gain or income realized by a non-U.S. shareholder in respect of any distributions of long-term capital gains or upon the sale or other disposition of shares of the Fund.
Separately, a 30% withholding tax is currently imposed on U.S.-source dividends, interest and other income items paid to (i) foreign financial institutions, including non-U.S. investment funds, unless they agree to collect and disclose to the IRS information regarding their direct and indirect U.S. account holders and (ii) certain other foreign entities, unless they certify certain information regarding their direct and indirect U.S. owners. To avoid withholding, foreign financial institutions will need to (i) enter into agreements with the IRS that state that they will provide the IRS information, including the names, addresses and taxpayer identification numbers of direct and indirect U.S. account holders, comply with due diligence procedures with respect to the identification of U.S. accounts, report to the IRS certain information with respect to U.S. accounts maintained, agree to withhold tax on certain payments made to non-compliant foreign financial institutions or to account holders who fail to provide the required information, and determine certain other information concerning their account holders, or (ii) in the event that an applicable intergovernmental agreement and implementing legislation are adopted, provide local revenue authorities with similar account holder information. Other foreign entities may need to report the name, address, and taxpayer identification number of each substantial U.S. owner or provide certifications of no substantial U.S. ownership unless certain exceptions apply.
If your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending arrangement, you may lose the ability to treat Fund dividends paid while the shares are held by the borrower as qualified dividend income. In addition, you may lose the ability to use foreign tax credits passed through by the Fund if your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending agreement.
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If you are a resident or a citizen of the U.S., by law, backup withholding at a 24% rate will apply to your distributions and proceeds if you have not provided a taxpayer identification number or social security number and made other required certifications.
Taxes When Shares are Sold. Currently, any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares is generally treated as a long-term gain or loss if the shares have been held for more than one year. Any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares held for one year or less is generally treated as short-term gain or loss, except that any capital loss on the sale of shares held for six months or less is treated as long-term capital loss to the extent that capital gain dividends were paid with respect to such shares. Any such capital gains, including from sales of Fund shares or from capital gain dividends, are included in “net investment income” for purposes of the 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax mentioned above.
The foregoing discussion summarizes some of the consequences under current U.S. federal tax law of an investment in the Fund. It is not a substitute for personal tax advice. You may also be subject to state and local taxation on Fund distributions and sales of shares. Consult your personal tax advisor about the potential tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund under all applicable tax laws.
Chinese Tax Disclosure. The Fund’s investments in securities issued by PRC companies may cause the Fund to become subject to withholding and other taxes imposed by the PRC. If the Fund were considered to be a tax resident of the PRC, it would be subject to PRC corporate income tax at the rate of 25% on its worldwide taxable income. If the Fund were considered to be a non-resident enterprise with a “permanent establishment” in the PRC, it would be subject to PRC corporate income tax of 25% on the profits attributable to the permanent establishment. BFA intends to operate the Fund in a manner that will prevent it from being treated as a tax resident of the PRC and from having a permanent establishment in the PRC. It is possible, however, that the PRC could disagree with that conclusion or that changes in PRC tax law could affect the PRC corporate income tax status of the Fund. The PRC generally imposes withholding income tax at a rate of 10% on dividends, premiums, interest and capital gains originating in the PRC and paid to a company that is not a resident of the PRC for tax purposes and that has no permanent establishment in China. The withholding is in general made by the relevant PRC tax resident company making such payments. In the event the relevant PRC tax resident company fails to withhold the relevant PRC withholding income tax or otherwise fails to pay the relevant withholding income tax to the PRC tax authorities, the PRC tax authorities may, at their sole discretion, impose tax obligations on the Fund.
Foreign investors are temporarily exempt from withholding income tax on capital gains derived from the trading of certain shares. Exemptions are temporary and there is no indication how long the exemptions will continue. While the application and enforcement of this law to the Fund remains subject to clarification, to the extent that such taxes are imposed on any capital gains of the Fund, the Fund's NAV or returns may be adversely impacted.
Stamp duty under PRC laws generally applies to the execution and receipt of taxable documents, which include contracts for the sale of B-shares traded on PRC stock exchanges. In the case of such contracts, the stamp duty is currently imposed on the
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seller but not on the purchaser, at the rate of 0.1%.
The above information is only a general summary of the potential PRC tax consequences that may be imposed on the Fund and its investors either directly or indirectly and should not be taken as a definitive, authoritative or comprehensive statement of the relevant matter. Investors should seek their own tax advice on their tax position with regard to their investment in the Fund.
The PRC government has implemented a number of tax reform policies in recent years. The current tax laws and regulations may be revised or amended in the future. Any revision or amendment in tax laws and regulations may affect the after-taxation profit of PRC companies and foreign investors in such companies, such as the Fund.
Creations and Redemptions. Prior to trading in the secondary market, shares of the Fund are “created” at NAV by market makers, large investors and institutions only in block-size Creation Units of 150,000 shares or multiples thereof. Each “creator” or authorized participant (an “Authorized Participant”) has entered into an agreement with the Fund's distributor, BlackRock Investments, LLC (the “Distributor”), an affiliate of BFA.
A creation transaction, which is subject to acceptance by the Distributor and the Fund, generally takes place when an Authorized Participant deposits into the Fund a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) and a specified amount of cash approximating the holdings of the Fund in exchange for a specified number of Creation Units. To the extent practicable, the composition of such portfolio generally corresponds pro rata to the holdings of the Fund. However, creation and redemption baskets may differ. The Fund may, in certain circumstances, offer Creation Units partially or solely for cash.
Similarly, shares can be redeemed only in Creation Units, generally for a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) held by the Fund and a specified amount of cash. Except when aggregated in Creation Units, shares are not redeemable by the Fund.
The prices at which creations and redemptions occur are based on the next calculation of NAV after a creation or redemption order is received in an acceptable form under the authorized participant agreement.
Only an Authorized Participant may create or redeem Creation Units with the Fund. Authorized Participants may create or redeem Creation Units for their own accounts or for customers, including, without limitation, affiliates of the Fund.
In the event of a system failure or other interruption, including disruptions at market makers or Authorized Participants, orders to purchase or redeem Creation Units either may not be executed according to the Fund's instructions or may not be executed at all, or the Fund may not be able to place or change orders.
To the extent the Fund engages in in-kind transactions, the Fund intends to comply with the U.S. federal securities laws in accepting securities for deposit and satisfying redemptions with redemption securities by, among other means, assuring that any securities accepted for deposit and any securities used to satisfy redemption requests will be sold in transactions that would be exempt from registration under the Securities
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Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”). Further, an Authorized Participant that is not a “qualified institutional buyer,” as such term is defined in Rule 144A under the 1933 Act, will not be able to receive restricted securities eligible for resale under Rule 144A.
Creations and redemptions must be made through a firm that is either a member of the Continuous Net Settlement System of the National Securities Clearing Corporation or a DTC participant that has executed an agreement with the Distributor with respect to creations and redemptions of Creation Unit aggregations. Information about the procedures regarding creation and redemption of Creation Units (including the cut-off times for receipt of creation and redemption orders) is included in the Fund's SAI.
Because new shares may be created and issued on an ongoing basis, at any point during the life of the Fund a “distribution,” as such term is used in the 1933 Act, may be occurring. Broker-dealers and other persons are cautioned that some activities on their part may, depending on the circumstances, result in their being deemed participants in a distribution in a manner that could render them statutory underwriters subject to the prospectus delivery and liability provisions of the 1933 Act. Any determination of whether one is an underwriter must take into account all the relevant facts and circumstances of each particular case.
Broker-dealers should also note that dealers who are not “underwriters” but are participating in a distribution (as contrasted to ordinary secondary transactions), and thus dealing with shares that are part of an “unsold allotment” within the meaning of Section 4(a)(3)(C) of the 1933 Act, would be unable to take advantage of the prospectus delivery exemption provided by Section 4(a)(3) of the 1933 Act. For delivery of prospectuses to exchange members, the prospectus delivery mechanism of Rule 153 under the 1933 Act is available only with respect to transactions on a national securities exchange.
Costs Associated with Creations and Redemptions. Authorized Participants are charged standard creation and redemption transaction fees to offset transfer and other transaction costs associated with the issuance and redemption of Creation Units. The standard creation and redemption transaction fees are set forth in the table below. The standard creation transaction fee is charged to the Authorized Participant on the day such Authorized Participant creates a Creation Unit, and is the same regardless of the number of Creation Units purchased by the Authorized Participant on the applicable business day. Similarly, the standard redemption transaction fee is charged to the Authorized Participant on the day such Authorized Participant redeems a Creation Unit, and is the same regardless of the number of Creation Units redeemed by the Authorized Participant on the applicable business day. Creations and redemptions for cash (when cash creations and redemptions (in whole or in part) are available or specified) are also subject to an additional charge (up to the maximum amounts shown in the table below). This charge is intended to compensate for brokerage, tax, foreign exchange, execution, price movement and other costs and expenses related to cash transactions (which may, in certain instances, be based on a good faith estimate of transaction costs). Investors who use the services of a broker or other financial intermediary to acquire or dispose of Fund shares may pay fees for such services.
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The following table shows, as of August 31, 2019, the approximate value of one Creation Unit, standard transaction fees and maximum additional charges for creations and redemptions (as described above and in the Fund's SAI):
Approximate
Value of a
Creation Unit
  Creation
Unit Size
  Standard
Creation/
Redemption
Transaction Fee
  Maximum Additional
Charge for
Creations*
  Maximum Additional
Charge for
Redemptions*
$5,878,500   150,000   $1,300   7.0%   2.0%

* As a percentage of the net asset value per Creation Unit, inclusive, in the case of redemptions, of the standard redemption transaction fee.
Householding. Householding is an option available to certain Fund investors. Householding is a method of delivery, based on the preference of the individual investor, in which a single copy of certain shareholder documents can be delivered to investors who share the same address, even if their accounts are registered under different names. Please contact your broker-dealer if you are interested in enrolling in householding and receiving a single copy of prospectuses and other shareholder documents, or if you are currently enrolled in householding and wish to change your householding status.
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Distribution
The Distributor or its agent distributes Creation Units for the Fund on an agency basis. The Distributor does not maintain a secondary market in shares of the Fund. The Distributor has no role in determining the policies of the Fund or the securities that are purchased or sold by the Fund. The Distributor’s principal address is 1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540.
BFA or its affiliates make payments to broker-dealers, registered investment advisers, banks or other intermediaries (together, “intermediaries”) related to marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems, data provision services, or their making shares of the Fund and certain other iShares funds available to their customers generally and in certain investment programs. Such payments, which may be significant to the intermediary, are not made by the Fund. Rather, such payments are made by BFA or its affiliates from their own resources, which come directly or indirectly in part from fees paid by the iShares funds complex. Payments of this type are sometimes referred to as revenue-sharing payments. A financial intermediary may make decisions about which investment options it recommends or makes available, or the level of services provided, to its customers based on the payments or other financial incentives it is eligible to receive. Therefore, such payments or other financial incentives offered or made to an intermediary create conflicts of interest between the intermediary and its customers and may cause the intermediary to recommend the Fund or other iShares funds over another investment. More information regarding these payments is contained in the Fund's SAI. Please contact your salesperson or other investment professional for more information regarding any such payments his or her firm may receive from BFA or its affiliates.
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Financial Highlights
The financial highlights table is intended to help investors understand the Fund’s financial performance for the past five years. Certain information reflects financial results for a single share of the Fund. The total returns in the table represent the rate that an investor would have earned (or lost) on an investment in the Fund, assuming reinvestment of all dividends and distributions. This information has been audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, whose report is included, along with the Fund's financial statements, in the Fund's Annual Report (available upon request).
Financial Highlights
(For a share outstanding throughout each period)
  iShares China Large-Cap ETF
  Year Ended
07/31/19
  Year Ended
07/31/18
  Year Ended
07/31/17
  Year Ended
07/31/16
  Year Ended
07/31/15
Net asset value, beginning of year $ 43.14   $ 42.57   $ 35.11   $ 40.66   $ 41.05
Net investment income(a) 1.07   1.27   0.86   0.65   1.10
Net realized and unrealized gain (loss)(b) (1.73)   0.80   7.47   (5.18)   (0.73)
Net increase (decrease) from investment operations (0.66)   2.07   8.33   (4.53)   0.37
Distributions (c)                  
From net investment income (0.85)   (1.50)   (0.87)   (1.02)   (0.76)
Total distributions (0.85)   (1.50)   (0.87)   (1.02)   (0.76)
Net asset value, end of year $ 41.63   $ 43.14   $ 42.57   $ 35.11   $ 40.66
Total Return                  
Based on net asset value (1.44)%   4.73%   24.23%   (11.13)%   0.82%
Ratios to Average Net Assets                  
Total expenses 0.74%   0.74%   0.74%   0.74%   0.73%
Net investment income 2.55%   2.75%   2.26%   1.87%   2.53%
Supplemental Data                  
Net assets, end of year (000) $5,039,411   $4,096,070   $3,346,303   $3,586,773   $6,593,654
Portfolio turnover rate(d) 14%   18%   15%   15%   36%

(a) Based on average shares outstanding.
(b) The amounts reported for a share outstanding may not accord with the change in aggregate gains and losses in securities for the fiscal period due to the timing of capital share transactions in relation to the fluctuating market values of the Fund’s underlying securities.
(c) Distributions for annual periods determined in accordance with U.S. federal income tax regulations.
(d) Portfolio turnover rate excludes in-kind transactions.
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Index Provider
FTSE International Limited is an independent company whose sole business is the creation and management of indexes and associated data services. The company is 100% owned by the London Stock Exchange Plc. FTSE calculates more than 200,000 indexes daily, including more than 2,000 real-time indexes. “FTSE®” is a trademark of the London Stock Exchange Group companies and is used by FTSE under license. FTSE is not affiliated with the Trust, BFA, State Street, the Distributor or any of their respective affiliates.
BFA or its affiliates have entered into a license agreement with the Index Provider to use the Underlying Index. BFA or its affiliates sublicense rights in the Underlying Index to the Trust at no charge.
Disclaimers
The Fund is not in any way sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by FTSE or the London Stock Exchange Plc (the “Exchange”) (together, the “Licensor Parties”) and none of the Licensor Parties make any claim, prediction, warranty or representation whatsoever, expressly or impliedly, either as to (i) the results to be obtained from the use of the FTSE China 50 Index (the “Index”) (upon which the Fund is based), (ii) the figure at which the Index is said to stand at any particular time on any particular day or otherwise, or (iii) the fitness or suitability of the Index for the particular purpose to which it is being put in connection with the Fund. None of the Licensor Parties have provided or will provide any financial or investment advice or recommendation in relation to the Index to BFA or its affiliates or to its customers or clients. The Index is calculated by FTSE or its agent. None of the Licensor Parties shall be liable (whether in negligence or otherwise) to any person for any error in the Index and none of the Licensor Parties shall be under any obligation to advise any person of any error therein.
All rights in the Index vest in FTSE. “FTSE®” is a trademark of the London Stock Exchange Group companies and is used by FTSE under license.
FTSE makes no warranty, express or implied, as to results to be obtained by BFA or its affiliates, owners of shares of the Fund or any other person or entity from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. FTSE makes no express or implied warranties and expressly disclaims all warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose or use with respect to the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall FTSE have any liability for any special, punitive, indirect or consequential damages (including lost profits) resulting from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein, even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
Shares of the Fund are not sponsored, endorsed or promoted by NYSE Arca. NYSE Arca makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the ability of the Fund to track the total return performance of the Underlying Index or
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the ability of the Underlying Index to track stock market performance. NYSE Arca is not responsible for, nor has it participated in, the determination of the compilation or the calculation of the Underlying Index, nor in the determination of the timing of, prices of, or quantities of shares of the Fund to be issued, nor in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the shares are redeemable. NYSE Arca has no obligation or liability to owners of shares of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of shares of the Fund.
NYSE Arca does not guarantee the accuracy and/or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. NYSE Arca makes no warranty, express or implied, as to results to be obtained by the Trust on behalf of the Fund as licensee, licensee’s customers and counterparties, owners of shares of the Fund, or any other person or entity from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein in connection with the rights licensed as described herein or for any other use. NYSE Arca makes no express or implied warranties and hereby expressly disclaims all warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose with respect to any Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall NYSE Arca have any liability for any direct, indirect, special, punitive, consequential or any other damages (including lost profits) even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
The past performance of the Underlying Index is not a guide to future performance. BFA and its affiliates do not guarantee the accuracy or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein and BFA and its affiliates shall have no liability for any errors, omissions or interruptions therein. BFA and its affiliates make no warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or to any other person or entity, as to results to be obtained by the Fund from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall BFA or its affiliates have any liability for any special, punitive, direct, indirect, consequential or any other damages (including lost profits), even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
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Supplemental Information
I. Premium/Discount Information
The table that follows presents information about the differences between the daily market price on secondary markets for shares of the Fund and the Fund’s NAV. NAV is the price at which the Fund issues and redeems shares. It is calculated in accordance with the standard formula for valuing mutual fund shares. The price used to calculate market returns (“Market Price”) of the Fund generally is determined using the midpoint between the highest bid and the lowest ask on the primary securities exchange on which shares of the Fund are listed for trading, as of the time that the Fund’s NAV is calculated. The Fund’s Market Price may be at, above or below its NAV. The NAV of the Fund will fluctuate with changes in the value of its portfolio holdings. The Market Price of the Fund will fluctuate in accordance with changes in its NAV, as well as market supply and demand.
Premiums or discounts are the differences (expressed as a percentage) between the NAV and Market Price of the Fund on a given day, generally at the time the NAV is calculated. A premium is the amount that the Fund is trading above the reported NAV, expressed as a percentage of the NAV. A discount is the amount that the Fund is trading below the reported NAV, expressed as a percentage of the NAV.
The following information shows the frequency of distributions of premiums and discounts for the Fund for each full calendar quarter of 2018 through September 30, 2019.
Each line in the table shows the number of trading days in which the Fund traded within the premium/discount range indicated. Premium/discount ranges with no trading days are omitted. The number of trading days in each premium/discount range is also shown as a percentage of the total number of trading days in the period covered by the table. All data presented here represents past performance, which cannot be used to predict future results.
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Premium/Discount Range   Number of Days   Percentage of Total Days
Greater than 3.5% and Less than 4.0%   1   0.23%
Greater than 2.5% and Less than 3.0%   3   0.68
Greater than 1.5% and Less than 2.0%   14   3.19
Greater than 1.0% and Less than 1.5%   26   5.92
Greater than 0.5% and Less than 1.0%   60   13.67
Greater than 0.0% and Less than 0.5%   106   24.14
At NAV   4   0.91
Less than 0.0% and Greater than -0.5%   105   23.91
Less than -0.5% and Greater than -1.0%   70   15.95
Less than -1.0% and Greater than -1.5%   28   6.38
Less than -1.5% and Greater than -2.0%   10   2.28
Less than -2.0% and Greater than -2.5%   3   0.68
Less than -2.5% and Greater than -3.0%   5   1.14
Less than -3.0% and Greater than -3.5%   1   0.23
Less than -3.5% and Greater than -4.0%   2   0.46
Less than -4.0% and Greater than -4.5%   1   0.23
    439   100.00%
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II. Total Return Information
The table that follows presents information about the total returns of the Fund and the Underlying Index as of the fiscal year ended July 31, 2019.
“Average Annual Total Returns” represents the average annual change in value of an investment over the periods indicated. “Cumulative Total Returns” represents the total change in value of an investment over the periods indicated.
The Fund’s NAV is the value of one share of the Fund as calculated in accordance with the standard formula for valuing mutual fund shares. The NAV return is based on the NAV of the Fund and the market return is based on the Market Price of the Fund. Market Price generally is determined by using the midpoint between the highest bid and the lowest ask on the primary stock exchange on which shares of the Fund are listed for trading, as of the time that the Fund's NAV is calculated. Market and NAV returns assume that dividends and capital gain distributions have been reinvested in the Fund at Market Price and NAV, respectively.
An index is a financial calculation, based on a grouping of financial instruments, that is not an investment product and that tracks a specified financial market or sector. Unlike the Fund, the Underlying Index does not actually hold a portfolio of securities and therefore does not incur the expenses incurred by the Fund. These expenses negatively impact the performance of the Fund. Also, market returns do not include brokerage commissions and other charges that may be payable on secondary market transactions. If brokerage commissions were included, market returns would be lower. The returns shown in the following table do not reflect the deduction of taxes that a shareholder would pay on Fund distributions or the redemption or sale of Fund shares. The investment return and principal value of shares of the Fund will vary with changes in market conditions. Shares of the Fund may be worth more or less than their original cost when they are redeemed or sold in the market. The Fund’s past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Performance as of July 31, 2019
  Average Annual Total Returns   Cumulative Total Returns
  1 Year 5 Years 10 Years   1 Year 5 Years 10 Years
Fund NAV (1.44)% 2.82% 2.27%   (1.44)% 14.90% 25.18%
Fund Market (3.75) 2.84 2.20   (3.75) 15.03 24.27
Index (0.79) 3.55 3.05   (0.79) 19.08 35.08
  Index performance beginning on February 10, 2012 reflects net returns where dividends are reinvested into the Index net of withholding tax. Performance before this date reflects dividends being reinvested at gross.
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Want to know more?
iShares.com     |    1-800-474-2737
Copies of the Prospectus, SAI and recent shareholder reports can be found on our website at www.iShares.com. For more information about the Fund, you may request a copy of the SAI. The SAI provides detailed information about the Fund and is incorporated by reference into this Prospectus. This means that the SAI, for legal purposes, is a part of this Prospectus.
Additional information about the Fund's investments is available in the Fund's Annual and Semi-Annual Reports to shareholders. In the Fund's Annual Report, you will find a discussion of the market conditions and investment strategies that significantly affected the Fund's performance during the last fiscal year.
If you have any questions about the Trust or shares of the Fund or you wish to obtain the SAI, Semi-Annual or Annual Report free of charge, please:
Call: 1-800-iShares or 1-800-474-2737 (toll free)
Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Eastern time)
Email: iSharesETFs@blackrock.com
Write: c/o BlackRock Investments, LLC
1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540
Reports and other information about the Fund are available on the EDGAR database on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov, and copies of this information may be obtained, after paying a duplicating fee, by electronic request at the following e-mail address: publicinfo@sec.gov.
No person is authorized to give any information or to make any representations about the Fund and its shares not contained in this Prospectus and you should not rely on any other information. Read and keep this Prospectus for future reference.
©2019 BlackRock, Inc. All rights reserved. iSHARES® and BLACKROCK® are registered trademarks of BFA and its affiliates. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.
Investment Company Act File No.: 811-09729
IS-P-FXI-1119


November 29, 2019
   
    
2019 Prospectus
iShares S&P Allocation Series
iShares Core Conservative Allocation ETF  |  AOK  |  NYSE ARCA
iShares Core Moderate Allocation ETF  |  AOM  |  NYSE ARCA
iShares Core Growth Allocation ETF  |  AOR  |  NYSE ARCA
iShares Core Aggressive Allocation ETF  |  AOA  |  NYSE ARCA
Beginning on January 1, 2021, as permitted by regulations adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), paper copies of each Fund’s shareholder reports will no longer be sent by mail, unless you specifically request paper copies of the reports from your financial intermediary, such as a broker-dealer or bank. Instead, the reports will be made available on a website, and you will be notified by mail each time a report is posted and provided with a website link to access the report.
If you already elected to receive shareholder reports electronically, you will not be affected by this change and you need not take any action. If you hold accounts through a financial intermediary, you may contact your financial intermediary to enroll in electronic delivery. Please note that not all financial intermediaries may offer this service.
You may elect to receive all future reports in paper free of charge. If you hold accounts through a financial intermediary, you can follow the instructions included with this disclosure, if applicable, or contact your financial intermediary to request that you continue to receive paper copies of your shareholder reports. Please note that not all financial intermediaries may offer this service. Your election to receive reports in paper will apply to all funds held with your financial intermediary.
The SEC has not approved or disapproved these securities or passed upon the adequacy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 




Table of Contents
“Standard & Poor's®,” “S&P®,” “S&P Target Risk Indices®,” “S&P Target Risk Conservative Index,” “S&P Target Risk Moderate Index,” “S&P Target Risk Growth Index” and “S&P Target Risk Aggressive Index” are trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC (“SPFS”); Dow Jones® is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC (“Dow Jones”). These trademarks have been licensed for use by S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC, a subsidiary of S&P Global (“SPDJI”) and its subsidiaries and sublicensed for certain purposes by BlackRock Fund Advisors and/or its affiliates. iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates. The Funds are not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by SPDJI, SPFS, Dow Jones, their respective affiliates or their third party licensors and none of such parties makes any representation regarding the advisability of investing in such product(s) nor do they have any liability for any errors, omissions, or interruptions of the Underlying Index.
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iShares Core Conservative Allocation ETF
Ticker: AOK Stock Exchange: NYSE Arca
Investment Objective
The iShares Core Conservative Allocation ETF (the “Fund”) seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of a portfolio of underlying equity and fixed income funds intended to represent a conservative target risk allocation strategy.
Fees and Expenses
The following table describes the fees and expenses that you will incur if you own shares of the Fund. The investment advisory agreement between iShares Trust (the “Trust”) and BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”) (the “Investment Advisory Agreement”) provides that BFA will pay all operating expenses of the Fund, except the management fees, interest expenses, taxes, expenses incurred with respect to the acquisition and disposition of portfolio securities and the execution of portfolio transactions, including brokerage commissions, distribution fees or expenses, litigation expenses and any extraordinary expenses.  The Fund may incur “Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses.” Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses reflect the Fund's pro rata share of the fees and expenses incurred by investing in other investment companies. The impact of Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses is included in the total returns of the Fund. Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses are not included in the calculation of the ratio of expenses to average net assets shown in the Financial Highlights section of the Fund's prospectus (the “Prospectus”). BFA, the investment adviser to the Fund, has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees in an amount equal to the Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any, attributable to investments by the Fund in other series of the Trust and iShares, Inc. through November 30, 2021. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to November 30, 2021 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA.
You may also incur usual and customary brokerage commissions and other charges when buying or selling shares of the Fund, which are not reflected in the example that follows:
Annual Fund Operating Expenses
(ongoing expenses that you pay each year as a
percentage of the value of your investments)
Management
Fees
  Distribution and
Service (12b-1)
Fees
  Other
Expenses
  Acquired Fund Fees
and Expenses
  Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
  Fee Waiver   Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
After
Fee Waiver
0.25%   None   None   0.06%   0.31%   (0.06)%   0.25%
Example. This Example is intended to help you compare the cost of owning shares of the Fund with the cost of investing in other funds. The Example assumes that you invest $10,000 in the Fund for the time periods indicated and then sell all of your shares at the end of those periods. The Example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions, your costs would be:
1 Year   3 Years   5 Years   10 Years
$26   $87   $162   $381
Portfolio Turnover. The Fund and the iShares funds in which the Fund invests (each, an “Underlying Fund” and collectively, the “Underlying Funds”), may pay transaction costs, such as commissions, when they buy and sell securities (or “turn over” their portfolio). A higher portfolio turnover rate for the Fund or Underlying Funds may indicate higher transaction costs primarily in other iShares Underlying and may cause the Fund or Underlying Funds to incur increased expenses. These costs, which are not reflected in the Annual Fund Operating Expenses or in the Example (except costs to Underlying Funds included as part of Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses), affect the Fund's performance. To the extent an Underlying Fund incurs costs from high portfolio turnover, such costs may have a negative effect on the performance of the Fund. During the most recent fiscal year, the Fund’s portfolio turnover rate was 3% of the average value of its portfolio.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund is a fund of funds and seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing primarily in Underlying Funds that themselves seek investment results corresponding to their own respective underlying indexes. The Underlying Funds invest primarily in distinct asset classes, such as large- or mid-capitalization U.S. or non-U.S. equity, the aggregate bond market (including allocation to international bonds as well as USD-denominated bonds) or the U.S. Treasury bond market; each such asset class has its own risk profile.
The S&P Target Risk Conservative Index (the “Underlying Index”) is composed of a portfolio of equity and fixed-income Underlying Funds and measures the performance of the
 
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S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC (the “Index Provider” or “SPDJI”) proprietary allocation model that is intended to represent a “conservative” target risk allocation strategy as defined by SPDJI. The Underlying Index seeks to emphasize exposure to fixed income, in order to produce a current income stream and avoid excessive volatility of returns. Equities are included in the Underlying Index to seek to protect long-term purchasing power. SPDJI’s estimation of a conservative target risk allocation may differ from your own.
The Fund is designed for investors seeking current income, capital preservation and avoidance of excessive volatility of returns. As of July 31, 2019, the Underlying Index included a fixed allocation of 30% of its assets in Underlying Funds that invest primarily in equity securities and 70% of its assets in Underlying Funds that invest primarily in bonds. As of July 31, 2019, the Fund invested approximately 29.12% of its assets in Underlying Funds that invest primarily in equity securities, 70.78% of its assets in Underlying Funds that invest primarily in bonds and the remainder of its assets in Underlying Funds that invest primarily in money market instruments.
As of July 31, 2019, the Fund invested in the iShares Core International Aggregate Bond ETF, iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF, iShares Core MSCI International Developed Markets ETF, iShares Core S&P 500 ETF, iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF, iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF, iShares Core Total USD Bond Market ETF and money market funds advised by BFA or its affiliates (“BlackRock Cash Funds”). BFA may add, eliminate or replace any or all Underlying Funds at any time. As of July 31, 2019, a significant portion of the Underlying Index is represented by U.S. treasury securities. The components of the Underlying Index are likely to change over time.
BFA uses a “passive” or indexing approach to try to achieve the Fund’s investment objective. Unlike many investment companies, the Fund does not try to “beat” the index it tracks and does not seek temporary defensive positions when markets decline or appear overvalued.
Indexing may eliminate the chance that the Fund will substantially outperform the Underlying Index but also may reduce some of the risks of active management, such as poor security selection. Indexing seeks to achieve lower costs and better after-tax performance by aiming to keep portfolio turnover low in comparison to actively managed investment companies.
BFA uses a representative sampling indexing strategy to manage the Fund. “Representative sampling” is an indexing strategy that involves investing in a representative sample of securities that collectively has an investment profile similar to that of an applicable underlying index. The securities selected are expected to have, in the aggregate, investment characteristics (based on factors such as market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of an applicable underlying index. The Fund and an Underlying Fund may or may not hold all of the securities in the applicable Underlying Index.
The Fund generally will invest at least 90% of its assets in the component securities of the Underlying Index and may invest up to 10% of its assets in certain futures, options and swap contracts, cash and cash equivalents, including shares of BlackRock Cash Funds, as well as in securities not included in the Underlying Index, but which BFA believes will help the Fund track the Underlying Index. The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the Underlying Index before fees and expenses of the Fund.
The Fund may lend securities representing up to one-third of the value of the Fund's total assets (including the value of any collateral received).
The Underlying Index is a product of SPDJI which is independent of the Fund and BFA. The Index Provider determines the composition and relative weightings of the securities in the Underlying Index and publishes information regarding the market value of the Underlying Index.
Industry Concentration Policy. The Fund will concentrate its investments (i.e., hold 25% or more of its total assets) in a particular industry or group of industries to approximately the same extent that the Underlying Index is concentrated. For purposes of this limitation, securities of the U.S. government (including its agencies and instrumentalities) and repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.
Summary of Principal Risks
As with any investment, you could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund's performance could trail that of other investments. The Fund is subject to certain risks, including the principal risks noted below (either directly or through its investments in the Underlying Funds), any of which may adversely affect the Fund's net asset value per share (“NAV”), trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Affiliated Fund Risk. In managing the Fund, BFA will have the ability to select Underlying Funds and substitute Underlying Funds with other exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) that it believes will achieve the Fund’s objective. BFA may be subject to potential conflicts of interest in selecting Underlying Funds and substituting Underlying Funds with other ETFs because the fees paid to BFA by some Underlying Funds and other ETFs managed by BFA may be higher than the fees paid by other Underlying Funds. If an Underlying Fund or other ETF holds interests in an affiliated fund in excess of a certain amount, the Fund may be prohibited from purchasing shares of that Underlying Fund or other ETF.
Allocation Risk. The Fund’s ability to achieve its investment objective depends upon the Index Provider's ability to develop a model that accurately assesses the Fund’s asset class allocation and selects the best mix of Underlying Funds and other ETFs. There is a risk that the Index Provider's evaluations and assumptions regarding asset classes or Underlying Funds, which are utilized as inputs in the model, may be incorrect in view of actual market conditions.
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Asset Class Risk. Securities and other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund's or an Underlying Fund's portfolio may underperform in comparison to the general financial markets, a particular financial market or other asset classes.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk.  Only an Authorized Participant (as defined in the Creation and Redemptions section of this prospectus (the “Prospectus”)) may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund, and none of those Authorized Participants is obligated to engage in creation and/or redemption transactions. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as Authorized Participants on an agency basis (i.e., on behalf of other market participants). To the extent that Authorized Participants exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units (as defined in the Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares section of the Prospectus), Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium or discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts or delisting. Authorized Participant concentration risk may be heightened for ETFs, such as the Fund, that invest in securities issued by non-U.S. issuers or other securities or instruments that have lower trading volumes.
Calculation Methodology Risk. The Underlying Index relies on various sources of information to assess the criteria of issuers included in the Underlying Index, including information that may be based on assumptions and estimates. Neither the Fund nor BFA can offer assurances that the Underlying Index’s calculation methodology or sources of information will provide an accurate assessment of included issuers.
Call Risk. During periods of falling interest rates, an issuer of a callable bond held by the Fund or an Underlying Fund may “call” or repay the security before its stated maturity, and the Fund or an Underlying Fund may have to reinvest the proceeds in securities with lower yields, which would result in a decline in the Fund's income, or in securities with greater risks or with other less favorable features.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's or an Underlying Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class.
Credit Risk. Debt issuers and other counterparties may be unable or unwilling to make timely interest and/or principal payments when due or otherwise honor their obligations. Changes in an issuer’s credit rating or the market’s perception of an issuer’s creditworthiness may also adversely affect the value of the Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's investment in that issuer. The degree of credit risk depends on an issuer's or counterparty's financial condition and on the terms of an obligation.
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's and the Underlying Funds' NAVs are determined in U.S. dollars, the Fund's NAV could decline
if a currency of a non-U.S. market in which a Fund or an Underlying Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of such currency. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the Fund's NAV may change quickly and without warning.
Cybersecurity Risk. Failures or breaches of the electronic systems of the Fund or the Underlying Funds, the Funds' or the Underlying Funds' adviser, distributor, the Index Provider and other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests have the ability to cause disruptions, negatively impact the Fund’s business operations and/or potentially result in financial losses to the Fund and its shareholders. While the Fund has established business continuity plans and risk management systems seeking to address system breaches or failures, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cybersecurity plans and systems of the Fund’s Index Provider and other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
Derivatives Risk. The Fund or an Underlying Fund may invest in certain types of derivatives contracts, including futures, options and swaps, which can be more sensitive to changes in interest rates or to sudden fluctuations in market prices than conventional securities, which can result in greater losses to the Fund.
Equity Securities Risk. Equity securities are subject to changes in value, and their values may be more volatile than those of other asset classes. Certain Underlying Funds invest in common stocks, which generally subject their holders to more risks than preferred stocks and debt securities because common stockholders’ claims are subordinated to those of holders of preferred stocks and debt securities upon the bankruptcy of the issuer.
Extension Risk. During periods of rising interest rates, certain debt obligations may be paid off substantially more slowly than originally anticipated and the value of those securities may fall sharply, resulting in a decline in the Fund’s income and potentially in the value of the Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's investments.
Geographic Risk. A natural disaster could occur in a geographic region in which the Fund or an Underlying Fund invests, which could adversely affect the economy or the business operations of companies in the specific geographic region, causing an adverse impact on the Fund's or an Underlying Fund's investments in the affected region.
High Portfolio Turnover Risk. High portfolio turnover (considered by the Fund and the Underlying Funds to mean higher than 100% annually) may result in increased transaction costs to the Fund or an Underlying Fund, including brokerage commissions, dealer mark-ups and other transaction costs on the sale of the securities and on reinvestment in other securities.
High Yield Securities Risk. Securities that are rated below investment-grade (commonly referred to as “junk bonds,” which
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may include those bonds rated below “BBB-” by Standard & Poor’s® Global Ratings, a subsidiary of S&P Global, Inc. (“S&P Global Ratings”) and Fitch Ratings, Inc. (“Fitch”) or “Baa3” by Moody's Investors Service, Inc. (“Moody's”)), or are unrated, may be deemed speculative, may involve greater levels of risk than higher-rated securities of similar maturity and may be more likely to default.
Income Risk. The Fund's income may decline if interest rates fall. This decline in income can occur because the Fund or an Underlying Fund may subsequently invest in lower-yielding bonds when bonds in its portfolio mature, are near maturity or are called, bonds in the Underlying Index are substituted, or the Fund or an Underlying Fund otherwise needs to purchase additional bonds.
Index-Related Risk. There is no guarantee that the Fund’s investment results will have a high degree of correlation to those of the Underlying Index or that the Fund will achieve its investment objective. Market disruptions and regulatory restrictions could have an adverse effect on the Fund’s ability to adjust its exposure to the required levels in order to track the Underlying Index. Errors in index data, index computations or the construction of the Underlying Index in accordance with its methodology may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, which may have an adverse impact on the Fund and its shareholders.
Interest Rate Risk. An increase in interest rates may cause the value of securities held by the Fund or an Underlying Fund to decline, may lead to heightened volatility in the fixed-income markets and may adversely affect the liquidity of certain fixed-income investments. The historically low interest rate environment, together with recent modest rate increases, heightens the risks associated with rising interest rates.
Investment in Underlying Funds Risk. The Fund invests substantially all of its assets in the Underlying Funds, so the Fund’s investment performance is directly related to the performance of the Underlying Funds. The Fund’s NAV will change with changes in the value of the Underlying Funds and other securities in which the Fund invests based on their market valuations. An investment in the Fund will entail more costs and expenses than a direct investment in the Underlying Funds.
As the Underlying Funds, or the Fund’s allocations among the Underlying Funds, change from time to time, or to the extent that the total annual fund operating expenses of any Underlying Fund changes, the weighted average operating expenses borne by the Fund may increase or decrease.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities to which the Fund or an Underlying Fund has exposure. Changes in the financial condition or credit rating of an issuer of those securities may cause the value of the securities to decline.
Large-Capitalization Companies Risk. Large-capitalization companies may be less able than smaller capitalization companies to adapt to changing market conditions. Large-capitalization companies may be more mature and subject to more limited growth potential compared with smaller capitalization companies. During different market cycles, the performance of large-capitalization companies has trailed the overall performance of the broader securities markets.
Management Risk. As the Fund or the Underlying Funds will not fully replicate their respective indexes, they are subject to the risk that BFA's investment strategy may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Funds could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns.
Market Trading Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Funds face numerous market trading risks, including the potential lack of an active market for their shares, losses from trading in secondary markets, periods of high volatility and disruptions in the creation/redemption process. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV.
Model Risk. Neither the Fund nor BFA can offer assurances that the Underlying Index's allocation model will achieve its intended results or maximize returns or minimize risk, or be appropriate for every investor seeking a particular risk profile.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund or the Underlying Funds trade on foreign exchanges or in foreign markets that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s or an Underlying 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., the Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Non-U.S. Issuers Risk. Securities issued by non-U.S. issuers carry different risks from securities issued by U.S. issuers. These risks 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, regulatory and economic differences, and potential restrictions on the flow of international capital.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks associated with investing in those non-U.S. markets, such as heightened risks of inflation or nationalization. The Fund or an Underlying Fund
may lose money due to political, economic and geographic events affecting issuers of non-U.S. securities or non-U.S. markets. In
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addition, non-U.S. securities markets may trade a small number of securities and may be unable to respond effectively to changes in trading volume, potentially making prompt liquidation of holdings difficult or impossible at times.
Operational Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Funds are exposed to operational risks arising from a number of factors, including, but not limited to, human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund’s service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund, the Underlying Funds and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate to address significant operational risks.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Funds are not actively managed, and BFA generally does not attempt to take defensive positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Prepayment Risk. During periods of falling interest rates, issuers of certain debt obligations may repay principal prior to the security’s maturity, which may cause the Fund to have to reinvest in securities with lower yields or higher risk of default, resulting in a decline in the Fund’s income or return potential.
Privately-Issued Securities Risk. The Fund or the Underlying Funds may invest in privately-issued securities, including those that are normally purchased pursuant to Rule 144A or Regulation S promulgated under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”). Privately-issued securities are securities that have not been registered under the 1933 Act and as a result may be subject to legal restrictions on resale. Privately-issued securities are generally not traded on established markets. As a result of the absence of a public trading market, privately issued securities may be deemed to be illiquid investments, may be more difficult to value than publicly traded securities and may be subject to wide fluctuations in value. Delay or difficulty in selling such securities may result in a loss to the Fund.
Reinvestment Risk. The Fund or an Underlying Fund may invest a portion of its assets in short-term fixed-income instruments and, as a result, may be adversely affected if interest rates fall because they may have to invest in lower-yielding bonds as bonds mature.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. The Fund and certain Underlying Funds invest in countries or regions whose economies are heavily dependent upon trading with key partners. Any reduction in this trading may have an adverse impact on the Fund's investments. Through its holdings of securities of certain issuers, the Fund is specifically exposed to Asian Economic Risk, European Economic Risk and U.S. Economic Risk.
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. The Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's investment in developed country issuers may subject the Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, economic and other risks associated with developed countries. Developed countries tend to represent a significant portion of the
global economy and have generally experienced slower economic growth than some less developed countries. Certain developed countries have experienced security concerns, such as terrorism and strained international relations. Incidents involving a country’s or region’s security may cause uncertainty in its markets and may adversely affect its economy and the Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's investments. In addition, developed countries may be adversely impacted by changes to the economic conditions of certain key trading partners, regulatory burdens, debt burdens and the price or availability of certain commodities.
Risk of Investing in Russia. Investing in Russian securities involves significant risks, including legal, regulatory and economic risks that are specific to Russia. In addition, investing in Russian securities involves risks associated with the settlement of portfolio transactions and loss of the Fund’s ownership rights in its portfolio securities as a result of the system of share registration and custody in Russia. A number of jurisdictions, including the U.S., Canada and the European Union (the “EU”), have imposed economic sanctions on certain Russian individuals and Russian corporate entities. Additionally, Russia is alleged to have participated in state-sponsored cyberattacks against foreign companies and foreign governments. Actual and threatened responses to such activity, including purchasing restrictions, sanctions, tariffs or cyberattacks on the Russian government or Russian companies, may impact Russia’s economy and Russian issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
Risk of Investing in the U.S. Certain changes in the U.S. economy, such as when the U.S. economy weakens or when its financial markets decline, may have an adverse effect on the securities to which the Fund or the Underlying Funds has exposure.
Securities Lending Risk. The Fund or an Underlying Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund or the Underlying Funds may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund or the Underlying Funds could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund or an Underlying Fund.
Structural Risk. The countries in which the Fund or an Underlying Fund invests may be subject to considerable degrees of economic, political and social instability.
Tax Risk. Because the Fund is expected to invest in the Underlying Funds, the Fund’s realized losses on sales of shares of an Underlying Fund may be indefinitely or permanently deferred as “wash sales.” Distributions of short-term capital gains by an Underlying Fund will be recognized as ordinary income by the Fund and would not be offset by the Fund’s capital loss carryforwards, if any. Capital loss carryforwards of an Underlying Fund, if any, would not offset net capital gains of the Fund.
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Tracking Error Risk. The Fund may be subject to tracking error, which is the divergence of a fund’s performance from that of the 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 the Underlying Index, pricing differences (including, as applicable, differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the Fund's valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the Fund's NAV), transaction costs incurred by the Fund, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or interest, the requirements to maintain pass-through tax treatment, portfolio transactions carried out to minimize the distribution of capital gains to shareholders, changes to the Underlying Index or the costs to the 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 the Underlying Index does not. The Underlying Funds are also subject to tracking error risk in seeking to track their own performance of the applicable underlying indexes.
Treaty/Tax Risk. Certain of the Underlying Funds invest all of their assets that are invested in India in wholly owned subsidiaries located in the Republic of Mauritius (the “Subsidiaries”). These Underlying Funds and the Subsidiaries rely on the Double Tax Avoidance Agreement between India and Mauritius (“DTAA”) for relief from certain Indian taxes. The DTAA has been renegotiated and as such, treaty relief is reduced or not available on investments in securities made on or after April 1, 2017, which may result in higher taxes and/or lower returns for the Fund. After April 1, 2017, an Underlying Fund may continue to invest in a Subsidiary until an alternative method for investing in the securities of Indian issuers is selected.
U.S. Treasury Obligations Risk. U.S. Treasury obligations may differ from other securities in their interest rates, maturities, times of issuance and other characteristics and may provide relatively lower returns than those of other securities. Similar to other issuers, changes to the financial condition or credit rating of a government may cause the value of the Fund's or an Underlying Fund's U.S. Treasury obligations to decline.
Valuation Risk. The price the Fund or an Underlying Fund could receive upon the sale of a security or other asset may differ from the Fund's or the Underlying Fund's valuation of the security or other asset and from the value used by the Underlying Index, particularly for securities or other assets that trade in low volume or volatile markets or that are valued using a fair value methodology as a result of trade suspensions or for other reasons. In addition, the value of the securities or other assets in the Fund's or an Underlying Fund's portfolio may change on days or during time periods when shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund's or an Underlying Fund's shares. Authorized Participants who purchase or redeem shares of the Fund or an Underlying Fund on days when the Fund or an Underlying Fund is holding fair-valued securities may receive fewer or more shares, or lower or higher redemption proceeds, than they would have received had the Fund or an Underlying Fund not fair-valued securities or used a different valuation methodology. The Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's ability to value investments may be impacted by technological issues or errors by pricing services or other third-party service providers.
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Performance Information
The bar chart and table that follow show how the Fund has performed on a calendar year basis and provide an indication of the risks of investing in the Fund. Both assume that all dividends and distributions have been reinvested in the Fund. Past performance (before and after taxes) does not necessarily indicate how the Fund will perform in the future. Supplemental information about the Fund’s performance is shown under the heading Total Return Information in the Supplemental Information section of the Prospectus. If BFA had not waived certain Fund fees during certain periods, the Fund's returns would have been lower.
Year by Year Returns1 (Years Ended December 31)

1 The Fund’s year-to-date return as of September 30, 2019 was 10.85%.
The best calendar quarter return during the periods shown above was 6.07% in the 3rd quarter of 2009; the worst was -3.22% in the 4th quarter of 2018.
Updated performance information, including the Fund’s current NAV, may be obtained by visiting our website at www.iShares.com or by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) (toll free).
Average Annual Total Returns
(for the periods ended December 31, 2018)
  One Year   Five Years   Ten Years
(Inception Date: 11/4/2008)          
Return Before Taxes -2.88%   2.84%   4.79%
Return After Taxes on Distributions2 -3.78%   1.99%   4.01%
Return After Taxes on Distributions and Sale of Fund Shares2 -1.57%   1.89%   3.52%
S&P Target Risk Conservative Index (Index returns do not reflect
deductions for fees, expenses, or taxes)
-2.73%   2.93%   4.87%

  2 After-tax returns in the table above are calculated using the historical highest individual U.S. federal marginal income tax rates and do not reflect the impact of state or local taxes. Actual after-tax returns depend on an investor’s tax situation and may differ from those shown, and after-tax returns shown are not relevant to tax-exempt investors or investors who hold shares through tax-deferred arrangements, such as 401(k) plans or individual retirement accounts (“IRAs”). Fund returns after taxes on distributions and sales of Fund shares are calculated assuming that an investor has sufficient capital gains of the same character from other investments to offset any capital losses from the sale of Fund shares. As a result, Fund returns after taxes on distributions and sales of Fund shares may exceed Fund returns before taxes and/or returns after taxes on distributions.
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Management
Investment Adviser. BlackRock Fund Advisors.
Portfolio Managers. Rachel Aguirre, Jennifer Hsui, Alan Mason, Greg Savage and Amy Whitelaw (the “Portfolio Managers”) are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager supervises a portfolio management team. Ms. Aguirre, Ms. Hsui, Mr. Mason, Mr. Savage and Ms. Whitelaw have been Portfolio Managers of the Fund since 2018, 2012, 2016, 2008 and 2018, respectively.
Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares
The Fund is an ETF. Individual shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange. Most investors will buy and sell shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer. The price of Fund shares is based on market price, and because ETF shares trade at market prices rather than at NAV, shares may trade at a price greater than NAV (a premium) or less than NAV (a discount). The Fund will only issue or redeem shares that have been aggregated into blocks of 50,000 shares or multiples thereof (“Creation Units”) to Authorized Participants who have entered into agreements with the Fund's distributor. The Fund generally will issue or redeem Creation Units in return for a designated portfolio of securities (and an amount of cash) that the Fund specifies each day.
Tax Information
The Fund intends to make distributions that may be taxable to you as ordinary income or capital gains, unless you are investing through a tax-deferred arrangement such as a 401(k) plan or an IRA, in which case, your distributions generally will be taxed when withdrawn.
Payments to Broker-Dealers and Other Financial Intermediaries
If you purchase shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary (such as a bank), BFA or other related companies may pay the intermediary for marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems or other services related to the sale or promotion of the Fund. These payments may create a conflict of interest by influencing the broker-dealer or other intermediary and your salesperson to recommend the Fund over another investment. Ask your salesperson or visit your financial intermediary’s website for more information.
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iShares Core Moderate Allocation ETF
Ticker: AOM Stock Exchange: NYSE Arca
Investment Objective
The iShares Core Moderate Allocation ETF (the “Fund”) seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of a portfolio of underlying equity and fixed income funds intended to represent a moderate target risk allocation strategy.
Fees and Expenses
The following table describes the fees and expenses that you will incur if you own shares of the Fund. The investment advisory agreement between iShares Trust (the “Trust”) and BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”) (the “Investment Advisory Agreement”) provides that BFA will pay all operating expenses of the Fund, except the management fees, interest expenses, taxes, expenses incurred with respect to the acquisition and disposition of portfolio securities and the execution of portfolio transactions, including brokerage commissions, distribution fees or expenses, litigation expenses and any extraordinary expenses.  The Fund may incur “Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses.” Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses reflect the Fund's pro rata share of the fees and expenses incurred by investing in other investment companies. The impact of Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses is included in the total returns of the Fund. Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses are not included in the calculation of the ratio of expenses to average net assets shown in the Financial Highlights section of the Fund's prospectus (the “Prospectus”). BFA, the investment adviser to the Fund, has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees in an amount equal to the Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any, attributable to investments by the Fund in other series of the Trust and iShares, Inc. through November 30, 2021. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to November 30, 2021 only upon written agreement of the Trust and BFA.
You may also incur usual and customary brokerage commissions and other charges when buying or selling shares of the Fund, which are not reflected in the example that follows:
Annual Fund Operating Expenses
(ongoing expenses that you pay each year as a
percentage of the value of your investments)
Management
Fees
  Distribution and
Service (12b-1)
Fees
  Other
Expenses
  Acquired Fund Fees
and Expenses
  Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
  Fee Waiver   Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
After
Fee Waiver
0.25%   None   None   0.06%   0.31%   (0.06)%   0.25%
Example. This Example is intended to help you compare the cost of owning shares of the Fund with the cost of investing in other funds. The Example assumes that you invest $10,000 in the Fund for the time periods indicated and then sell all of your shares at the end of those periods. The Example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions, your costs would be:
1 Year   3 Years   5 Years   10 Years
$26   $87   $162   $381
Portfolio Turnover. The Fund and the iShares funds in which the Fund invests (each, an “Underlying Fund” and collectively, the “Underlying Funds”), may pay transaction costs, such as commissions, when they buy and sell securities (or “turn over” their portfolio). A higher portfolio turnover rate for the Fund or Underlying Funds may indicate higher transaction costs and may cause the Fund or Underlying Funds to incur increased expenses. These costs, which are not reflected in the Annual Fund Operating Expenses or in the Example (except costs to Underlying Funds included as part of Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses), affect the Fund's performance. To the extent an Underlying Fund incurs costs from high portfolio turnover, such costs may have a negative effect on the performance of the Fund. During the most recent fiscal year, the Fund’s portfolio turnover rate was 4% of the average value of its portfolio.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund is a fund of funds and seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing primarily in Underlying Funds that themselves seek investment results corresponding to their own respective underlying indexes. The Underlying Funds invest primarily in distinct asset classes, such as large- or mid-capitalization U.S. or non-U.S. equity, the aggregate bond market (including allocation to international bonds as well as USD-denominated bonds) or the U.S. Treasury bond market; each such asset class has its own risk profile.
The S&P Target Risk Moderate Index (the “Underlying Index”) is composed of a portfolio of equity and fixed-income Underlying Funds and measures the performance of the
 
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S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC (the “Index Provider” or “SPDJI”) proprietary allocation model that is intended to represent a “moderate” target risk allocation strategy as defined by SPDJI. The Underlying Index seeks to provide significant exposure to fixed income, while also providing increased opportunity for capital growth through equities. SPDJI’s estimation of a moderate target risk allocation may differ from your own.
The Fund is designed for investors seeking current income, some capital preservation and an opportunity for moderate to low capital appreciation. As of July 31, 2019, the Underlying Index included a fixed allocation of 40% of its assets in Underlying Funds that invest primarily in equity securities and 60% of its assets in Underlying Funds that invest primarily in bonds. As of July 31, 2019, the Fund invested approximately 38.97% of its assets in Underlying Funds that invest primarily in equity securities, 60.91% of its assets in Underlying Funds that invest primarily in bonds and the remainder of its assets in Underlying Funds that invest primarily in money market instruments.
As of July 31, 2019, the Fund invested in the iShares Core International Aggregate Bond ETF, iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF, iShares Core MSCI International Developed Markets ETF, iShares Core S&P 500 ETF, iShares Core S&P Mid-Cap ETF, iShares Core S&P Small-Cap ETF, iShares Core Total USD Bond Market ETF and money market funds advised by BFA or its affiliates (“BlackRock Cash Funds”). BFA may add, eliminate or replace any or all Underlying Funds at any time. As of July 31, 2019, a significant portion of the Underlying Index is represented by U.S. treasury securities. The components of the Underlying Index are likely to change over time.
BFA uses a “passive” or indexing approach to try to achieve the Fund’s investment objective. Unlike many investment companies, the Fund does not try to “beat” the index it tracks and does not seek temporary defensive positions when markets decline or appear overvalued.
Indexing may eliminate the chance that the Fund will substantially outperform the Underlying Index but also may reduce some of the risks of active management, such as poor security selection. Indexing seeks to achieve lower costs and better after-tax performance by aiming to keep portfolio turnover low in comparison to actively managed investment companies.
BFA uses a representative sampling indexing strategy to manage the Fund. “Representative sampling” is an indexing strategy that involves investing in a representative sample of securities that collectively has an investment profile similar to that of an applicable underlying index. The securities selected are expected to have, in the aggregate, investment characteristics (based on factors such as market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of an applicable underlying index. The Fund and an Underlying Fund may or may not hold all of the securities in the applicable Underlying Index.
The Fund generally will invest at least 90% of its assets in the component securities of the Underlying Index and may invest up
to 10% of its assets in certain futures, options and swap contracts, cash and cash equivalents, including shares of BlackRock Cash Funds, as well as in securities not included in the Underlying Index, but which BFA believes will help the Fund track the Underlying Index. The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the Underlying Index before fees and expenses of the Fund.
The Fund may lend securities representing up to one-third of the value of the Fund's total assets (including the value of any collateral received).
The Underlying Index is a product of SPDJI which is independent of the Fund and BFA. The Index Provider determines the composition and relative weightings of the securities in the Underlying Index and publishes information regarding the market value of the Underlying Index.
Industry Concentration Policy. The Fund will concentrate its investments (i.e., hold 25% or more of its total assets) in a particular industry or group of industries to approximately the same extent that the Underlying Index is concentrated. For purposes of this limitation, securities of the U.S. government (including its agencies and instrumentalities) and repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.
Summary of Principal Risks
As with any investment, you could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund's performance could trail that of other investments. The Fund is subject to certain risks, including the principal risks noted below (either directly or through its investments in the Underlying Funds), any of which may adversely affect the Fund's net asset value per share (“NAV”), trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Affiliated Fund Risk. In managing the Fund, BFA will have the ability to select Underlying Funds and substitute Underlying Funds with other exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) that it believes will achieve the Fund’s objective. BFA may be subject to potential conflicts of interest in selecting Underlying Funds and substituting Underlying Funds with other ETFs because the fees paid to BFA by some Underlying Funds and other ETFs managed by BFA may be higher than the fees paid by other Underlying Funds. If an Underlying Fund or other ETF holds interests in an affiliated fund in excess of a certain amount, the Fund may be prohibited from purchasing shares of that Underlying Fund or other ETF.
Allocation Risk. The Fund’s ability to achieve its investment objective depends upon the Index Provider's ability to develop a model that accurately assesses the Fund’s asset class allocation and selects the best mix of Underlying Funds and other ETFs. There is a risk that the Index Provider's evaluations and assumptions regarding asset classes or Underlying Funds, which are utilized as inputs in the model, may be incorrect in view of actual market conditions.
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Asset Class Risk. Securities and other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund's or an Underlying Fund's portfolio may underperform in comparison to the general financial markets, a particular financial market or other asset classes.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk.  Only an Authorized Participant (as defined in the Creation and Redemptions section of this prospectus (the “Prospectus”)) may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund, and none of those Authorized Participants is obligated to engage in creation and/or redemption transactions. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as Authorized Participants on an agency basis (i.e., on behalf of other market participants). To the extent that Authorized Participants exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units (as defined in the Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares section of the Prospectus), Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium or discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts or delisting. Authorized Participant concentration risk may be heightened for ETFs, such as the Fund, that invest in securities issued by non-U.S. issuers or other securities or instruments that have lower trading volumes.
Calculation Methodology Risk. The Underlying Index relies on various sources of information to assess the criteria of issuers included in the Underlying Index, including information that may be based on assumptions and estimates. Neither the Fund nor BFA can offer assurances that the Underlying Index’s calculation methodology or sources of information will provide an accurate assessment of included issuers.
Call Risk. During periods of falling interest rates, an issuer of a callable bond held by the Fund or an Underlying Fund may “call” or repay the security before its stated maturity, and the Fund or an Underlying Fund may have to reinvest the proceeds in securities with lower yields, which would result in a decline in the Fund's income, or in securities with greater risks or with other less favorable features.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's or an Underlying Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class.
Credit Risk. Debt issuers and other counterparties may be unable or unwilling to make timely interest and/or principal payments when due or otherwise honor their obligations. Changes in an issuer’s credit rating or the market’s perception of an issuer’s creditworthiness may also adversely affect the value of the Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's investment in that issuer. The degree of credit risk depends on an issuer's or counterparty's financial condition and on the terms of an obligation.
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's and the Underlying Funds' NAVs are determined in U.S. dollars, the Fund's NAV could decline
if a currency of a non-U.S. market in which a Fund or an Underlying Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of such currency. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the Fund's NAV may change quickly and without warning.
Cybersecurity Risk. Failures or breaches of the electronic systems of the Fund or the Underlying Funds, the Funds' or the Underlying Funds' adviser, distributor, the Index Provider and other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests have the ability to cause disruptions, negatively impact the Fund’s business operations and/or potentially result in financial losses to the Fund and its shareholders. While the Fund has established business continuity plans and risk management systems seeking to address system breaches or failures, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cybersecurity plans and systems of the Fund’s Index Provider and other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
Derivatives Risk. The Fund or an Underlying Fund may invest in certain types of derivatives contracts, including futures, options and swaps, which can be more sensitive to changes in interest rates or to sudden fluctuations in market prices than conventional securities, which can result in greater losses to the Fund.
Equity Securities Risk. Equity securities are subject to changes in value, and their values may be more volatile than those of other asset classes. Certain Underlying Funds invest in common stocks, which generally subject their holders to more risks than preferred stocks and debt securities because common stockholders’ claims are subordinated to those of holders of preferred stocks and debt securities upon the bankruptcy of the issuer.
Extension Risk. During periods of rising interest rates, certain debt obligations may be paid off substantially more slowly than originally anticipated and the value of those securities may fall sharply, resulting in a decline in the Fund’s income and potentially in the value of the Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's investments.
Geographic Risk. A natural disaster could occur in a geographic region in which the Fund or an Underlying Fund invests, which could adversely affect the economy or the business operations of companies in the specific geographic region, causing an adverse impact on the Fund's or an Underlying Fund's investments in the affected region.
High Portfolio Turnover Risk. High portfolio turnover (considered by the Fund and the Underlying Funds to mean higher than 100% annually) may result in increased transaction costs to the Fund or an Underlying Fund, including brokerage commissions, dealer mark-ups and other transaction costs on the sale of the securities and on reinvestment in other securities.
High Yield Securities Risk. Securities that are rated below investment-grade (commonly referred to as “junk bonds,” which
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may include those bonds rated below “BBB-” by Standard & Poor’s® Global Ratings, a subsidiary of S&P Global, Inc. (“S&P Global Ratings”) and Fitch Ratings, Inc. (“Fitch”) or “Baa3” by Moody's Investors Service, Inc. (“Moody's”)), or are unrated, may be deemed speculative, may involve greater levels of risk than higher-rated securities of similar maturity and may be more likely to default.
Income Risk. The Fund's income may decline if interest rates fall. This decline in income can occur because the Fund or an Underlying Fund may subsequently invest in lower-yielding bonds when bonds in its portfolio mature, are near maturity or are called, bonds in the Underlying Index are substituted, or the Fund or an Underlying Fund otherwise needs to purchase additional bonds.
Index-Related Risk. There is no guarantee that the Fund’s investment results will have a high degree of correlation to those of the Underlying Index or that the Fund will achieve its investment objective. Market disruptions and regulatory restrictions could have an adverse effect on the Fund’s ability to adjust its exposure to the required levels in order to track the Underlying Index. Errors in index data, index computations or the construction of the Underlying Index in accordance with its methodology may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, which may have an adverse impact on the Fund and its shareholders.
Interest Rate Risk. An increase in interest rates may cause the value of securities held by the Fund or an Underlying Fund to decline, may lead to heightened volatility in the fixed-income markets and may adversely affect the liquidity of certain fixed-income investments. The historically low interest rate environment, together with recent modest rate increases, heightens the risks associated with rising interest rates.
Investment in Underlying Funds Risk. The Fund invests substantially all of its assets in the Underlying Funds, so the Fund’s investment performance is directly related to the performance of the Underlying Funds. The Fund’s NAV will change with changes in the value of the Underlying Funds and other securities in which the Fund invests based on their market valuations. An investment in the Fund will entail more costs and expenses than a direct investment in the Underlying Funds.
As the Underlying Funds, or the Fund’s allocations among the Underlying Funds, change from time to time, or to the extent that the total annual fund operating expenses of any Underlying Fund changes, the weighted average operating expenses borne by the Fund may increase or decrease.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities to which the Fund or an Underlying Fund has exposure. Changes in the financial condition or credit rating of an issuer of those securities may cause the value of the securities to decline.
Large-Capitalization Companies Risk. Large-capitalization companies may be less able than smaller capitalization companies to adapt to changing market conditions. Large-capitalization companies may be more mature and subject to more limited growth potential compared with smaller capitalization companies. During different market cycles, the performance of large-capitalization companies has trailed the overall performance of the broader securities markets.
Management Risk. As the Fund or the Underlying Funds will not fully replicate their respective indexes, they are subject to the risk that BFA's investment strategy may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Funds could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns.
Market Trading Risk. The Fund and the Underlying Funds face numerous market trading risks, including the potential lack of an active market for their shares, losses from trading in secondary markets, periods of high volatility and disruptions in the creation/redemption process. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV.
Model Risk. Neither the Fund nor BFA can offer assurances that the Underlying Index's allocation model will achieve its intended results or maximize returns or minimize risk, or be appropriate for every investor seeking a particular risk profile.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund or the Underlying Funds trade on foreign exchanges or in foreign markets that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s or an Underlying 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., the Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s or an Underlying Fund's NAV that may be greater than those experienced