485BPOS 1 d696880d485bpos.htm FORM 485BPOS Form 485BPOS

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

File Nos. 33-97598 and 811-09102

 

 

 

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. 496  
  and/or  
 

REGISTRATION STATEMENT

UNDER

THE INVESTMENT COMPANY ACT OF 1940

 
  Amendment No. 498  

(Check appropriate box or boxes)

 

 

iShares, Inc.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Charter)

 

 

c/o State Street Bank and Trust Company

1 Lincoln Street

Mail Stop SUM0703

Boston, MA 02111

(Address of Principal Executive Office) (Zip Code)

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

The Corporation Trust Incorporated

2405 York Road

Suite 201

Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland 21093

(Name and Address of Agent for Service)

 

 

With Copies to:

 

MARGERY K. NEALE, ESQ.

WILLKIE FARR &

GALLAGHER LLP

787 SEVENTH AVENUE

NEW YORK, NY 10019-6099

 

DEEPA DAMRE, ESQ.

BLACKROCK FUND

ADVISORS

400 HOWARD STREET

SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94105

 

 

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

 

Immediately upon filing pursuant to paragraph (b)

On March 1, 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:

 

The post-effective amendment designates a new effective date for a previously filed post-effective amendment

 

 

 


March 1, 2019
2019 Prospectus
►  iShares Emerging Markets High Yield Bond ETF | EMHY | CBOE BZX
Beginning on January 1, 2021, as permitted by regulations adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission, 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 Securities and Exchange Commission (“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
“Morningstar®” and “Morningstar® Emerging Markets High Yield Bond IndexSM” are trademarks or servicemarks of Morningstar, Inc. and have 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 Morningstar, Inc., and Morningstar, Inc. makes no representation regarding the advisability of investing in the Fund.
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iSHARES® EMERGING MARKETS HIGH YIELD BOND ETF
Ticker: EMHY Stock Exchange: Cboe BZX
Investment Objective
The iShares Emerging Markets High Yield Bond ETF (the “Fund”) seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of U.S. dollar-denominated, emerging market high yield sovereign and corporate bonds.
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, Inc. (the “Company”) 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
Expenses
  Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
0.50%   None   None   0.50%
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
$51   $160   $280   $628
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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 19% of the average value of its portfolio.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the Morningstar® Emerging Markets High Yield Bond IndexSM (the “Underlying Index”), which tracks the performance of the below-investment-grade (as determined by Morningstar, Inc. (the “Index Provider” or “Morningstar”)) U.S. dollar-denominated emerging market sovereign and corporate high yield bond market. High yield bonds are also known as “junk bonds.” All bonds included in the Underlying Index are selected according to a set of rules-based inclusion criteria regarding issue size, bond type, maturity, and liquidity. The securities included in the Underlying Index are rebalanced after the close of the last business day of each month. Morningstar Indexes reviews and announces the list of eligible countries annually in August, and it takes effect at the following June rebalance.
The Underlying Index includes bonds issued by corporations, sovereignties and quasi-sovereign corporations (more than 50% government ownership) based in Latin American, Eastern European,
Middle Eastern/African, and Asian (excluding Japan) countries that meet certain criteria to be classified as emerging market countries by Morningstar’s proprietary index methodology. Eligible individual securities must have a minimum outstanding face value of $500 million or more, and eligible issuers must have aggregate outstanding debt of $1 billion or more to be included in the Underlying Index. All securities included in the Underlying Index must be U.S. dollar-denominated fixed rate bonds with a remaining maturity of 13 months or more at the time of rebalancing and a minimum of 36 months to maturity or greater at time of issuance. Corporate bonds must have a credit rating of BB+ or lower from either Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. (“Moody’s”), S&P Global Ratings or Fitch Ratings, Inc. (“Fitch”) to be included in the Underlying Index. Sovereign bonds must have a credit rating of BB+ or lower from either Moody's or S&P Global Ratings to be included in the Underlying Index. The Underlying Index employs a weight capping algorithm to limit exposure to single issuers. Single issuers are capped at 15% of the Underlying Index portfolio, and the sum of all issuers over 5% is capped at 48%. Issuers under 5% are capped at 4.7% of the Underlying Index portfolio. In instances where an issuer exceeds the capping threshold, the weight is modified and allocated on a pro rata basis to the remaining constituents.
As of October 31, 2018, the Underlying Index included issuers located in 41 countries. As of October 31, 2018, a significant portion of the Underlying Index is represented by sovereign obligations. The components of the Underlying Index are likely to change
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over time.
The Fund will 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”).
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 keeping 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, duration, maturity, credit ratings 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 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 money market funds advised by BFA or its affiliates (“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. From time to time when conditions warrant, however, the Fund may invest at least 80% of its assets in the component securities of the Underlying Index and may invest up to 20% 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 Underlying Index is sponsored by Morningstar, 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), repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S.
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government securities, and securities of state or municipal governments and their political subdivisions 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.
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 may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. 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 this prospectus (“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.
Call Risk. During periods of falling interest rates, an issuer of a callable bond held by the Fund may “call” or repay the security before its stated maturity, and the 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 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 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 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
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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.
Cyber Security Risk. Failures or breaches of the electronic systems of the Fund, the Fund's adviser, distributor, and other service providers, the Index Provider, market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests have the ability to cause disruptions and negatively impact the Fund’s business operations, potentially resulting 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 cyber security plans and systems of the Fund’s service providers, the Index Provider, market makers, Authorized Participants or issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
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 investments.
Geographic Risk. A natural disaster could occur in a geographic region in which the Fund invests, which could affect the economy or particular
business operations of companies in the specific geographic region, causing an adverse impact on the Fund's investments in the affected region.
High Yield Securities Risk. Securities that are rated below investment-grade (commonly referred to as “junk bonds,” which may include those bonds rated below “BBB-” by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch, or “Baa3” by 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.
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.
Income Risk. The Fund's income may decline when interest rates fall. This decline can occur because the Fund may subsequently invest in lower-yielding bonds as bonds in its portfolio mature, are near maturity or are called, bonds in the Underlying Index are substituted, or the 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
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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 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.
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.
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.
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. Agency Debt Risk. The Fund invests in uncollateralized bonds issued by agencies, subdivisions or instrumentalities of foreign governments. Bonds issued by foreign government agencies, subdivisions or instrumentalities are generally backed only by the general creditworthiness and reputation of the entity issuing the bonds and may not be backed by the full faith and credit of the foreign government. Moreover, a foreign government that explicitly provides its full faith and credit to a particular entity may be, due to changed circumstances, unable or unwilling to provide that support. A non-U.S. agency’s operations and financial condition are influenced by the foreign government’s economic and other policies.
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
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regulations, political instability, regulatory and economic differences, and potential restrictions on the flow of international capital. The Fund is specifically exposed to Central and South American Economic Risk and Middle Eastern 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.
Privately-Issued Securities Risk. The Fund will invest in privately-issued securities, including those that are normally purchased pursuant to Rule 144A or Regulation S promulgated under 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.
Privatization Risk. Some countries in which the Fund invests have privatized, or have 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 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, Central and South American Economic Risk, European Economic Risk and U.S. Economic Risk.
Risk of Investing in Brazil. Investment in Brazilian issuers involves risks that are specific to Brazil, including legal, regulatory, political and economic risks. The Brazilian economy has historically been exposed to high rates of inflation and a high level of debt, each of which may reduce and/or prevent economic growth.
Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets. The Fund's investments in emerging market issuers 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
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associated with custody of securities than developed markets.
Risk of Investing in Frontier Markets. Frontier markets are those emerging markets that are considered to be among the smallest, least mature and least liquid, and as a result, may be more likely to experience inflation, political turmoil and rapid changes in economic conditions than more developed and traditional emerging markets. Investments in frontier markets may be subject to a greater risk of loss than investments in more developed and traditional emerging markets. Frontier markets often have less uniformity in accounting and reporting requirements, unreliable securities valuations and greater risk associated with custody of securities. Economic, political, liquidity and currency risks may be more pronounced with respect to investments in frontier markets than in emerging markets.
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. These and future sanctions, or even the threat of further sanctions, may adversely affect Russia’s economy and the Fund’s investments.
Security Risk. Some countries and regions in which the Fund invests 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 investments.
Sovereign and Quasi-Sovereign Obligations Risk. The Fund invests in securities issued by or guaranteed by non-U.S. sovereign governments and by entities affiliated with or backed by non-U.S. sovereign governments, which may be unable or unwilling to repay principal or interest when due. In times of economic uncertainty, the prices of these securities may be more volatile than those of corporate debt obligations or of other government debt obligations.
Structural Risk. The countries in which the Fund invests may be subject to considerable degrees of economic, political and social instability.
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), differences in transaction costs, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of distributions, the requirements to maintain pass-through tax treatment, portfolio transactions carried out to minimize the distribution
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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 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. 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 Returns (Years Ended December 31)
The best calendar quarter return during the periods shown above was 6.42% in the 2nd quarter of 2014; the worst was -5.58% in the 2nd quarter of 2013.
Updated performance information 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   Since Fund
Inception
(Inception Date: 4/3/2012)          
Return Before Taxes -5.10%   4.27%   4.35%
Return After Taxes on Distributions1 -7.61%   1.52%   1.72%
Return After Taxes on Distributions and Sale of Fund Shares1 -3.02%   2.02%   2.16%
Morningstar ® Emerging Markets High Yield Bond IndexSM (Index returns do not reflect deductions for fees, expenses, or taxes) -4.61%   4.57%   4.73%

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. James Mauro and Scott Radell (the “Portfolio Managers”) are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager supervises a portfolio management team. Mr. Mauro and Mr. Radell have been Portfolio Managers of the Fund since 2012.
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 securities index that may not be 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 performance (return) of the Fund's portfolio 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
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substantially all of the 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, which went into effect on January 1, 2018, 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.
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, as well as 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 also developed increasingly strained relationships with the U.S., and if these relations were to worsen, they could adversely affect Asian issuers that rely on the U.S. for trade. 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 track other countries, groups of countries, regions, industries, groups of industries,
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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. 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.
Call Risk. During periods of falling interest rates, an issuer of a callable bond held by the Fund may “call” or repay the security before its stated maturity, and the 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.
Central and South American Economic Risk. The economies and financial sectors of certain emerging markets countries are affected by the economies of Central and South American countries, some of which have experienced high interest rates, economic volatility, inflation, currency devaluations, government defaults, high unemployment rates, and expropriation and/or nationalization of assets. In addition, commodities (such as oil, gas and minerals) represent a significant percentage of the region's exports and many economies in this region are particularly sensitive to fluctuations in commodity prices. Adverse economic events in one country may have a significant adverse effect on other countries in this region and on the financial sectors of emerging markets countries.
Concentration Risk. The Fund’s investments will generally follow the weightings of the Underlying Index, which may result in concentration of the Fund’s investments in a particular sovereign and quasi-sovereign entity or entities in a particular country, group of countries, region, market, sector or asset class. To the extent that its investments are concentrated in a particular sovereign and quasi-sovereign entity or entities in a particular country, group of countries, region, market, sector or asset class, the Fund may be more adversely affected by the underperformance of those bonds, may be subject to 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.
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Credit Risk. Credit risk is the risk that the issuer or guarantor of a debt instrument or the counterparty to a derivatives contract, repurchase agreement or loan of portfolio securities is unable or unwilling to make timely interest and/or principal payments when due or otherwise honor its obligations.
The Fund’s portfolio will include below investment-grade bonds, which generally are subject to greater levels of credit risk than higher rated securities. There is the chance that the Fund’s holdings will have their credit ratings downgraded or will default (i.e., fail to make scheduled interest or principal payments), potentially reducing the Fund’s income level and share price. Debt instruments are subject to varying degrees of credit risk, depending on the issuer’s financial condition and on the terms of the securities, which may be reflected in their credit ratings.
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. Generally, when the U.S. dollar rises in value against a foreign currency, a security denominated in that currency loses value because the currency is worth fewer U.S. dollars. Conversely, when the U.S. dollar decreases in value against a foreign currency, a security denominated in that currency gains value because the currency is worth more U.S. dollars. This risk, generally known as “currency risk,” means that a strong U.S. dollar will reduce returns for U.S. investors, while a weak U.S. dollar will increase those returns. 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 greater the likelihood of custody problems.
Cyber Security 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 cyber security 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. Cyber-attacks may also be carried out in a manner that does
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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). Cyber security 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, cyber-attacks 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-attacks, 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. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cyber security 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.
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 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”).
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The referendum may introduce 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. 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 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 could also lead to legal uncertainty and 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. may be less stable than it has been in recent years, and investments in the U.K. 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.
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 varying 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.
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 investments.
Geographic Risk. Some of the companies in which the 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.
High Yield Securities Risk. Securities that are rated below investment-grade (commonly referred to as “junk bonds,” which may include those bonds rated below “BBB-” by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch, or “Baa3” by Moody’s), or are unrated, may be
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deemed speculative, may involve greater levels of risk than higher-rated securities of similar maturity and may be more likely to default.
The major risks of high yield securities investments include:
High yield securities may be issued by less creditworthy issuers. Issuers of high yield securities may have a larger amount of outstanding debt relative to their assets than issuers of investment-grade bonds. In the event of an issuer’s bankruptcy, claims of other creditors may have priority over the claims of high yield securities holders, leaving few or no assets available to repay high yield securities holders.
Prices of high yield securities are subject to extreme price fluctuations. Adverse changes in an issuer’s industry and general economic conditions may have a greater impact on the prices of high yield securities than on other higher rated fixed-income securities. The credit rating of a high yield security does not necessarily address its market value risk. Ratings and market value may change from time to time, positively or negatively, to reflect new developments regarding the issuer.
Issuers of high yield securities may be unable to meet their interest or principal payment obligations because of an economic downturn, specific issuer developments, or the unavailability of additional financing.
High yield securities frequently have redemption features that permit an issuer to repurchase the security from the Fund before it matures. If the issuer redeems high yield securities held by the Fund, the Fund may have to invest the proceeds in bonds with lower yields and may lose income.
High yield securities may be less liquid than higher rated fixed-income securities, even under normal economic conditions. There are fewer dealers in the high yield securities market, and there may be significant differences in the prices quoted for high yield securities by the dealers. Because high yield securities are less liquid, judgment may play a greater role in valuing certain of the Fund’s securities than is the case with securities trading in a more liquid market.
The Fund may incur expenses to the extent necessary to seek recovery upon default or to negotiate new terms with a defaulting issuer.
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 fixed-income securities or the lack of an active market for such securities. To the extent that the Fund invests in securities 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 that is deemed to be liquid when purchased will continue to be liquid for as long as it is held by the Fund. Illiquid investments may be harder to value, especially in changing
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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 fixed-income holdings at the same time as the Fund, causing increased supply of the Fund’s underlying investments in the market and contributing to liquidity risk and downward pricing pressure.
Income Risk. The Fund’s income may decline if interest rates fall. This decline in income can occur because the Fund may subsequently invest in lower-yielding bonds, as bonds in its portfolio mature, are near maturity or are called, bonds in the Underlying Index are substituted, or the Fund otherwise needs to purchase additional bonds. The Index Provider’s substitution of bonds in the Underlying Index may occur, for example, when the time to maturity for the bond no longer matches the Underlying Index’s stated maturity guidelines.
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. 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. Such errors may negatively or positively impact the Fund and its shareholders. 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. Unscheduled rebalances to the Underlying
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Index may expose the Fund to additional tracking error risk, which is the risk that the Fund's returns may not track those of the Underlying Index. 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.
Interest Rate Risk. As interest rates rise, the value of a fixed-income security held by the Fund is likely to decrease. Securities with longer durations tend to be more sensitive to interest rate changes, usually making their prices more volatile than those of securities with shorter durations. To the extent the Fund invests a substantial portion of its assets in fixed-income securities with longer-term maturities, rising interest rates may cause the value of the Fund’s investments to decline significantly . An increase in interest rates may lead to heightened volatility in the fixed-income markets and adversely affect the liquidity of certain fixed-income investments. In addition, decreases in fixed-income dealer market-making capacity may also potentially lead to heightened volatility and reduced liquidity in the fixed-income markets.
The historically low interest rate environment in recent years was created in part by the U.S. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Fed”) and certain foreign central banks keeping the federal funds and equivalent foreign rates at or near zero percent. The Fed recently raised its benchmark interest rate several times as the U.S. labor market strengthened and economic activity accelerated. The Fed indicated that it expects some further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate consistent with sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Fed’s objective over the medium term.
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. Changes to the financial condition or credit rating of an issuer of those securities may cause the value of the securities 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.
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. Market risk arises mainly from uncertainty about future values of financial instruments and may be influenced by price, currency and interest rate movements. It represents the potential loss the Fund may suffer through holding financial instruments in the face of market movements or uncertainty. The value of a security or other asset may decline due to changes in general market conditions, economic trends or events that are not
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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. The Fund invests primarily in emerging market bonds and, as a result, the Fund’s portfolio may have greater exposure to market risk than a fund that invests in securities of developed markets. Fixed-income securities with short-term maturities are generally less sensitive to such changes than are fixed-income securities with longer term maturities. 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 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
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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, including during periods of significant redemption requests or other unusual market conditions. 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 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.
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 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
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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.
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. Agency Debt Risk. The Fund invests in uncollateralized bonds issued by agencies, subdivisions or instrumentalities of foreign governments. Bonds issued by these foreign government agencies, subdivisions or instrumentalities are generally backed only by the creditworthiness and reputation of the entities issuing the bonds and may not be backed by the full faith and credit of the foreign government. Moreover, a foreign government that explicitly provides its full faith and credit to a particular entity may be, due to changed circumstances, unable or unwilling to actually provide that support. If a non-U.S. agency is unable to meet its obligations, the performance of the Fund will be adversely impacted. A non-U.S. agency’s operations and financial condition are influenced by the foreign government’s economic and other policies. Changes to the financial condition or credit rating of a foreign government may cause the value of debt issued by that particular foreign government’s agencies, subdivisions or instrumentalities to decline. During periods of economic uncertainty, the trading of non-U.S. agency bonds may be less liquid while market prices may be more volatile than prices of U.S. agency bonds. Additional risks associated with non-U.S. agency investing include differences in accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards, adverse changes in investment or exchange control regulations, political instability, which could affect U.S. investments in foreign countries, and potential restrictions of the flow of international capital.
Non-U.S. Issuers Risk. Securities issued by non-U.S. issuers have 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 which could affect U.S. investments in non-U.S. countries,
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uncertainties of transnational litigation, and potential restrictions on the flow of international capital, including the possible seizure or nationalization of the securities issued by non-U.S. issuers held by the Fund . Non-U.S. issuers may be subject to less governmental regulation than U.S. issuers. Moreover, individual non-U.S. economies may differ favorably or unfavorably from the U.S. economy in such respects as growth of gross domestic product, rate of inflation, capital reinvestment, resource self-sufficiency and balance of payment positions. Unfavorable political, economic or governmental developments in non-U.S. countries could affect the payment of a security’s principal and interest. Securities issued by non-U.S. issuers may also be less liquid and more difficult to value than securities of U.S. issuers. In addition, the value of these securities may fluctuate due to changes in the exchange rate of the issuer’s local currency against the U.S. dollar.
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.
Privately-Issued Securities Risk. The Fund will invest in privately-issued securities, including those that are normally purchased pursuant to Rule 144A or Regulation S under the 1933 Act. Privately-issued securities typically may be resold only to qualified institutional buyers, or in a privately negotiated transaction, or to a limited number of purchasers, or in limited quantities after they have been held for a specified period of time and other conditions are met for an exemption from registration. Because there may be relatively few potential purchasers for such securities, especially under adverse market or economic conditions or in the event of adverse changes in the financial condition of the issuer, the Fund may find it more difficult to sell such securities when it may be advisable to do so or it may be able to sell such securities only at prices lower than if such securities were more widely held and traded. At times, it also may be more difficult to determine the fair value of such securities for purposes of computing the Fund’s NAV due to the absence of an active trading market. There can be no assurance that a privately-issued security that is deemed to be liquid when purchased will continue to be liquid for as long as it is held by the Fund, and its value may decline as a result.
Privatization Risk. Some countries in which the Fund invests have privatized, or have begun the 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
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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. Economies in emerging market countries generally are heavily dependent upon commodity prices and international trade and, accordingly, have been and may continue to be affected adversely by the economies of their trading partners, trade barriers, exchange controls, managed adjustments in relative currency values, and may suffer from extreme and volatile debt burdens or inflation rates. These countries may be subject to other protectionist measures imposed or negotiated by the countries with which they trade.
Risk of Investing in Brazil. Investment in Brazilian issuers involves risks that are specific to Brazil, including legal, regulatory, political, currency and economic risks. Specifically, Brazilian issuers are subject to possible regulatory and economic interventions by the Brazilian government, including the imposition of wage and price controls and the limitation of imports. In addition, the market for Brazilian securities is directly influenced by the flow of international capital and economic and market conditions of certain countries, especially other emerging market countries in Central and South America. The Brazilian economy has historically been exposed to high rates of inflation and a high level of debt, each of which may reduce and/or prevent economic growth. A rising unemployment rate could also have the same effect.
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 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.
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Risk of Investing in Frontier Markets. Frontier markets are those emerging markets considered to be among the smallest, least mature and the securities of the issuers of which are the least liquid. Investments in frontier markets generally are subject to a greater risk of loss than investments in developed markets or traditional emerging markets. This is due to, among other things, smaller economies, less developed capital markets, greater market volatility, lower trading volume, political and economic instability, greater risk of a market shutdown and more governmental limitations on foreign investments than typically found in more developed markets. Frontier markets are even more prone to economic shocks associated with political and economic risks than are emerging markets generally. Many frontier market countries may be dependent on commodities, foreign trade or foreign aid. As a result, those risks traditionally associated with investments in emerging markets may be more pronounced with respect to investments in frontier market economies.
Risk of Investing in Russia. Investing in Russian securities involves significant risks, in addition to those described under “Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets” and “Non-U.S. Securities Risk” that are not typically associated with investing in U.S. securities, including:
The risk of delays in settling portfolio transactions and the risk of loss arising out of the system of share registration and custody used in Russia;
Risks in connection with the maintenance of the Fund’s portfolio securities and cash with foreign sub-custodians and securities depositories, including the risk that appropriate sub-custody arrangements will not be available to the Fund;
The risk that the Fund’s ownership rights in portfolio securities could be lost through fraud or negligence because ownership in shares of Russian companies is recorded by the companies themselves and by registrars, rather than by a central registration system; and
The risk that the Fund may not be able to pursue claims on behalf of its shareholders because of the system of share registration and custody, and because Russian banking institutions and registrars are not guaranteed by the Russian government.
Russia Sanctions. The U.S. and the Economic and Monetary Union of the EU, along with the regulatory bodies of a number of countries including Japan, Australia, Norway, Switzerland and Canada (collectively, “Sanctioning Bodies”), have imposed economic sanctions, which consist of prohibiting certain securities trades, prohibiting certain private transactions in the energy sector, asset freezes and prohibition of all business, against certain Russian individuals and Russian corporate entities. The Sanctioning Bodies could also institute broader sanctions on Russia. These sanctions, or even the threat of further sanctions, may result in the decline of the value and liquidity of Russian securities, a weakening of the ruble or other adverse consequences to the Russian economy. These sanctions could also result in the immediate freeze of Russian securities and/or funds invested in prohibited assets, impairing the ability of the Fund to buy, sell, receive or deliver those securities and/or assets. Additional sanctions against Russia have been, and may in the future be, imposed by the U.S. or other countries.
The sanctions against certain Russian issuers include prohibitions on transacting in or
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dealing in issuances of debt or equity of such issuers. Compliance with each of these sanctions may impair the ability of the Fund to buy, sell, hold, receive or deliver the affected securities or other securities of such issuers. If it becomes impracticable or unlawful for the Fund to hold securities subject to, or otherwise affected by, sanctions (collectively, “affected securities”), or if deemed appropriate by BFA, the Fund may prohibit in-kind deposits of the affected securities in connection with creation transactions and instead require a cash deposit, which may also increase the Fund's transaction costs. The Fund may also be legally required to freeze assets in a blocked account.
Also, if an affected security is included in the Fund's Underlying Index, the Fund may, where practicable, seek to eliminate its holdings of the affected security by employing or augmenting its representative sampling strategy to seek to track the investment results of its Underlying Index. The use of (or increased use of) a representative sampling strategy may increase the Fund’s tracking error risk. If the affected securities constitute a significant percentage of the Underlying Index, the Fund may not be able to effectively implement a representative sampling strategy, which may result in significant tracking error between the Fund’s performance and the performance of its Underlying Index.
Current or future sanctions may result in Russia taking counter measures or retaliatory actions, which may further impair the value and liquidity of Russian securities. These retaliatory measures may include the immediate freeze of Russian assets held by the Fund. In the event of such a freeze of any Fund assets, including depositary receipts, the Fund may need to liquidate non-restricted assets in order to satisfy any Fund redemption orders. The liquidation of Fund assets during this time may also result in the Fund receiving substantially lower prices for its securities.
These sanctions may also lead to changes in the Fund’s Underlying Index. The Fund’s Index Provider may remove securities from the Underlying Index or implement caps on the securities of certain issuers that have been subject to recent economic sanctions. In such an event, it is expected that the Fund will rebalance its portfolio to bring it in line with the Underlying Index as a result of any such changes, which may result in transaction costs and increased tracking error. These sanctions, the volatility that may result in the trading markets for Russian securities and the possibility that Russia may impose investment or currency controls on investors may cause the Fund to invest in, or increase the Fund’s investments in, depositary receipts that represent the securities of the Underlying Index. These investments may result in increased transaction costs and increased tracking error.
Security Risk. Some geographic areas in which the Fund invests have experienced acts of terrorism and strained international relations due to territorial disputes, historical animosities, defense concerns and other security concerns. These situations may cause uncertainty in the markets of these geographic areas and may adversely affect their economies.
Sovereign and Quasi-Sovereign Obligations Risk. An investment in sovereign or quasi-sovereign debt obligations involves special risks not present in corporate debt obligations. Sovereign debt includes securities issued by or guaranteed by a non-U.S. sovereign government, and quasi-sovereign debt includes securities issued by or
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guaranteed by an entity affiliated with or backed by a sovereign government. The issuer of the sovereign debt that controls the repayment of the debt may be unable or unwilling to repay principal or interest when due, and the Fund may have limited recourse in the event of a default. Similar to other issuers, changes to the financial condition or credit rating of a government may cause the value of a sovereign debt obligation to decline. During periods of economic uncertainty, the market prices of sovereign debt may be more volatile than prices of U.S. debt obligations and may affect the Fund's NAV. Quasi-sovereign debt obligations are typically less liquid and less standardized than sovereign debt obligations. In the past, certain emerging market countries have encountered difficulties in servicing their debt obligations, withheld payments of principal and interest and declared moratoria on the payment of principal and interest on their sovereign debts. Several countries in which the Fund invests have defaulted on their sovereign debt obligations in the past or encountered downgrades of their sovereign debt obligations, and those countries (or other countries) may default or risk further downgrades in the future.
Structural Risk. Certain countries in which the Fund invests may experience currency devaluations, substantial rates of inflation or economic recessions, causing a negative effect on their economies and securities markets.
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), differences in transaction costs, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of 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 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 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, certain country or countries in which the Fund invests. As a result, economic conditions of such countries may be particularly affected by changes in the U.S. economy. A decrease in U.S. imports or exports, new trade and financial regulations or tariffs, changes in the U.S. dollar exchange rate or an economic slowdown in the U.S. may have a material adverse effect on the economic conditions of such countries 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
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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. stock 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. 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.
African Economic Risk. Investing in the economies of African countries involves risks not typically associated with investments in securities of issuers in more developed economies, countries or geographic regions that may negatively affect the value of investments in the Fund. Such heightened risks include, among others, expropriation and/or nationalization of assets, restrictions on and government intervention in international trade, confiscatory taxation, political instability, including authoritarian and/or military involvement in governmental decision making, armed conflict, civil war, and social instability as a result of religious, ethnic and/or socioeconomic unrest or widespread outbreaks of disease.
The securities markets in Africa are underdeveloped and are often considered to be less correlated to global economic cycles than markets located in more developed economies, countries or geographic regions. Securities markets in African countries are subject to greater risks associated with market volatility, lower market capitalization, lower trading volume, illiquidity, inflation, greater price fluctuations, uncertainty regarding the existence of trading markets, governmental control and heavy regulation of labor and industry. Moreover, trading on African securities markets may be suspended altogether.
Certain governments in African countries may restrict or control to varying degrees the ability of foreign investors to invest in securities of issuers located or operating in those countries. Moreover, certain countries in Africa may require governmental approval or special licenses prior to investment by foreign investors; may limit the amount of investment by foreign investors in a particular industry and/or issuer; may limit such foreign investment to a certain class of securities of an issuer that may have less advantageous rights than the classes available for purchase by domestic investors of those countries; and/or may impose additional taxes on foreign investors. These factors, among others, make investing in issuers located or operating in countries in Africa significantly riskier than investing in issuers located or operating in more developed countries.
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Close-out Risk for Qualified Financial Contracts. Regulations adopted by the prudential regulators 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 and other risks to the Fund.
Eastern European Economic Risk. An investment in issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe may subject the Fund to legal, regulatory, political, currency, security and economic risks specific to Eastern Europe. Economies of certain Eastern European countries rely heavily on the export of commodities, including oil, gas, and certain metals. As a result, such economies may be impacted by international commodity prices and are particularly vulnerable to global demand for these products. Geopolitical events, acts of terrorism, and other instability in certain Eastern European countries may cause uncertainty in their financial markets and adversely affect the performance of the issuers to which the Fund has exposure. The securities markets in some Eastern European countries are substantially smaller and less developed, with less government supervision and regulation of stock exchanges, and may be less liquid and more volatile than securities markets in the U.S. or Western European countries. In addition, investing in securities of issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe may involve:
The risk of delays in settling portfolio transactions and the risk of loss arising out of the system of share registration and custody used in certain Eastern European countries;
Risks in connection with the maintenance of the Fund's portfolio securities and cash with foreign sub-custodians and securities depositories, including the risk that appropriate sub-custody arrangements will not be available to the Fund;
The risk that the Fund's ownership rights in portfolio securities could be lost through fraud or negligence as a result of the fact that ownership in shares of certain Eastern European companies is recorded by the companies themselves and by registrars, rather than a central registration system;
The risk that the Fund may not be able to pursue claims on behalf of its shareholders because of the system of share registration and custody, and because certain Eastern European banking institutions and registrars are not guaranteed by their respective governments; and
Risks in connection with Eastern European countries' dependence on the economic health of Western European countries and the EU as a whole.
Other risks related to investing in securities of issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe include: the potential absence of legal structures governing private and foreign investments and private property; the possibility of the loss of all or a substantial portion of the Fund’s assets invested in issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe
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as a result of expropriation; and certain national policies which may restrict the Fund’s investment opportunities, including, without limitation, restrictions on investing in issuers or industries deemed sensitive to relevant national interests. In addition, Eastern European securities markets are particularly sensitive to social, political, economic, and currency events in Russia and may suffer heavy losses as a result of their trading and investment links to the Russian economy and currency.
Energy 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 many reasons, including, among other reasons: 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 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 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.
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, including non-U.S. financials sector companies, increased risk taking by affected banks may also result in greater overall risk in the 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
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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 cyber-attacks, and may experience technology malfunctions and disruptions. In recent years, cyber-attacks 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.
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 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.
Risk of Investing in Frontier Markets. Frontier markets are those emerging markets considered to be among the smallest, least mature and the securities of the issuers of which are the least liquid. Investments in frontier markets generally are subject to a greater risk of loss than investments in developed markets or traditional emerging markets. This is due to, among other things, smaller economies, less developed capital markets, greater market volatility, lower trading volume, political and economic instability, greater risk of a market shutdown and more governmental limitations on foreign investments than typically found in more developed markets. Frontier markets are even more prone to economic shocks associated with political and economic risks than are emerging markets generally. Many frontier market countries may be dependent on commodities, foreign trade or foreign aid. As a result, those risks traditionally associated with investments in emerging markets may be more pronounced with respect to investments in frontier market economies.
Risks of Investing in Venezuela. Investment in Venezuela may subject the Fund to legal, regulatory, political, currency, security, expropriation and/or nationalization of assets and economic risk specific to Venezuela. Venezuela is extremely well endowed with natural resources and its economy is heavily dependent on export of natural resources to key trading partners. According to the Organization of Petroleum
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Exporting Countries (“OPEC”), Venezuela boasts the world’s largest oil reserves. According to an industry report, Venezuela also has the continent’s largest natural gas reserves at an estimated 152 trn cubic meters. Any act of terrorism, an armed conflict or a breakdown of a key trading relationship that disrupts the production or export of natural resources will likely negatively affect the Venezuelan economy. The government continues to control key sectors of the economy, including upstream oil and gas production, and has sought to increase its role in key sectors, such as telecommunications and steel. Meanwhile, ambiguities in the investment environment remain, such as continued high levels of bureaucracy and corruption, large macroeconomic imbalances, and political and policy uncertainty. Friction continues between the governments of the U.S. and Venezuela. The U.S. has imposed economic sanctions, which consist of asset freezes and sectoral sanctions, on certain Venezuelan individuals and Venezuelan corporate entities, and on the Venezuelan government. The U.S. could also institute broader sanctions on Venezuela. These sanctions, or even the threat of further sanctions, may result in the decline of the value and liquidity of Venezuelan securities, a weakening of the bolivar or other adverse consequences to the Venezuelan economy. These sanctions impair the ability of the Fund to buy, sell, receive or deliver those securities and/or assets. Additional sanctions against Venezuela may in the future be imposed by the U.S. or other countries. These factors, among others, can have a negative impact on the Fund’s investments.
Threshold/Underinvestment Risk. If certain aggregate ownership thresholds are reached either through the actions of BFA and its affiliates or the Fund, or as a result of third-party transactions, 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.
Portfolio Holdings Information
A description of the Company'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
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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 Company (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 Directors who are not “interested persons” of the Company).
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 0.50%. 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 December 31, 2018, BFA and its affiliates provided investment advisory services for assets in excess of $5.97 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 Company's Board of Directors (the “Board”) of the Investment Advisory Agreement with BFA is available in the Fund's annual report for the period ended October 31.
Portfolio Managers. James Mauro and Scott Radell 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 portfolio management team to focus on certain asset classes, implementing investment strategy, researching and reviewing investment strategy and overseeing members of his portfolio management team that have more limited responsibilities.
James Mauro has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 2011. Prior to that, Mr. Mauro was a Vice President at State Street Global Advisors. Mr. Mauro has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2012.
Scott Radell has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 2004. Mr. Radell was a credit strategist from 2003 to 2004 and became a portfolio manager at Barclays Global Fund Advisors in 2004. Mr. Radell has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2012.
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.
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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”)) and their directors, officers and employees and of 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”) 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 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
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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.
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 (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section below) 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 Company 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 “EMHY.”
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
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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 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.
Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act restricts investments by 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 Company. 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 Company, the registered investment company must enter into an agreement with the Company.
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 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.
The Fund values fixed-income portfolio securities using last available bid prices or current market quotations provided by dealers or prices (including evaluated prices) supplied by the Fund's approved independent third-party pricing services, each in accordance with valuation policies and procedures approved by the Board. Pricing services may use matrix pricing or valuation models that utilize certain inputs and assumptions to derive values. Pricing services generally value fixed-income securities assuming orderly transactions of an institutional round lot size, but the Fund may hold or transact in such securities in smaller odd lot sizes. Odd lots often trade at lower prices than institutional round lots. An amortized cost method of valuation may be
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used with respect to debt obligations with sixty days or less remaining to maturity unless BFA determines in good faith that such method does not represent fair value.
The Fund invests in non-U.S. securities. 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, the Fund’s NAV may change on days when Authorized Participants (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus) 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 liquidity 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.
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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 Company may make distributions on a more frequent basis for the Fund. The Company 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 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 Company. 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. There is no guarantee that shares of the Fund will receive certain regulatory or accounting treatment. 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, including distributions out of the Fund's net short-term capital gains, if any, are taxable to you as ordinary income. The Fund's distributions of net long-term capital gains, if any, in excess of net short-term capital losses are taxable as long-term capital gains, regardless of how long you have held the shares. Long-term capital gains are eligible for taxation at a maximum rate of 15% or 20% for non-corporate shareholders, depending on whether their income exceeds certain threshold amounts. Distributions from the Fund are subject to a 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax on “net investment income,” for individuals with incomes exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 if married and filing jointly) and of estates and trusts. 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.
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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 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 will 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 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. entity (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. federal 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 U.S. Internal Revenue Service (“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
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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 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 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) (“Deposit Securities”) 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 baskets will generally correspond to the price and yield performance of the Fund. 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 (“Fund Securities”) and a specified amount of cash. Except when aggregated in Creation Units, shares are not redeemable by the Fund.
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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.
The Deposit Securities required for purchase of a Creation Unit may be different than the Fund Securities the Fund will deliver upon redemption of Fund shares. The Deposit Securities and Fund Securities, as applicable, in connection with a purchase or redemption of a Creation Unit, generally will correspond pro rata, to the extent practicable, to the securities held by the Fund.
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 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
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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.
The following table shows, as of November 30, 2018, the approximate value of one Creation Unit, standard 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*
$2,242,000   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.
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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 Emerging Markets High Yield Bond ETF
  Year Ended
10/31/18
  Year Ended
10/31/17
  Year Ended
10/31/16
  Year Ended
10/31/15
  Year Ended
10/31/14
Net asset value, beginning of year $ 50.60   $ 49.97   $ 46.82   $ 51.03   $ 50.90
Net investment income(a) 2.44   2.87   3.03   2.99   2.93
Net realized and unrealized gain (loss)(b) (5.40)   0.77   3.25   (4.11)   0.15
Net increase (decrease) from investment operations (2.96)   3.64   6.28   (1.12)   3.08
Distributions (c)                  
From net investment income (2.35)   (3.01)   (3.13)   (3.09)   (2.95)
Total distributions (2.35)   (3.01)   (3.13)   (3.09)   (2.95)
Net asset value, end of year $ 45.29   $ 50.60   $ 49.97   $ 46.82   $ 51.03
Total Return                  
Based on net asset value (5.96)% (d)   7.60%   14.02%   (2.13)%   6.24%
Ratios to Average Net Assets                  
Total expenses 0.50%   0.50%   0.50%   0.55%   0.65%
Net investment income 5.11%   5.73%   6.35%   6.29%   5.78%
Supplemental Data                  
Net assets, end of year (000) $398,541   $624,867   $107,431   $159,199   $199,005
Portfolio turnover rate(e) 19%   25%   29%   39%   24%

(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) Includes payment received from an affiliate, which had no impact on the Fund’s total return.
(e) Portfolio turnover rate excludes in-kind transactions.
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Index Provider
Morningstar is a provider of independent investment research in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The company offers a line of products and services for individual investors, financial advisors, asset managers, retirement plan providers and sponsors, and institutional investors in the private capital markets.
Morningstar provides data and research insights on a wide range of investment offerings, including managed investment products, publicly listed companies, private capital markets, and real-time global market data. Morningstar also offers investment management services through its investment advisory subsidiaries, with more than $207 billion in assets under advisement and management as of September 30, 2018. The company has operations in 27 countries. Morningstar is not affiliated with the Company, BFA, State Street, or the Distributor. Credit Suisse maintains and calculates the Morningstar Indexes for Morningstar pursuant to a contractual agreement. Credit Suisse is not affiliated with Morningstar, the Company, BFA, 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 Company at no charge.
Disclaimers
The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by Morningstar. Morningstar makes no 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 securities generally or in the Fund in particular, or the ability of the Underlying Index to track general stock market performance. Morningstar's only relationship to the Company and BFA or its affiliates is the licensing of certain trademarks and trade names of Morningstar and of the Underlying Index which is determined, composed and calculated by Morningstar without regard to the Company, BFA or its affiliates or the Fund. Morningstar has no obligation to take the needs of BFA or its affiliates or the owners of shares of the Fund into consideration in determining, composing or calculating the Underlying Index. Morningstar is not responsible for and has not participated in the determination of the prices and amount of shares of the Fund, or the timing of the issuance or sale of such shares or in the determination or calculation of the equation by which shares of the Fund are to be converted into cash. Morningstar has no obligation or liability in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of shares of the Fund. Morningstar does not guarantee the accuracy or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein and Morningstar shall have no liability for any errors, omissions or interruptions therein.
Morningstar 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. Morningstar makes no express or implied warranties and expressly
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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 Morningstar have any liability for any special, punitive, direct, 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 Cboe BZX. Cboe BZX makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of the 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 the shares of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of the 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 Company on behalf of the Fund as licensee, licensee’s customers and counterparties, owners of the 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 or consequential 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.
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 0.5% and Less than 1.0%   4   1.59%
Greater than 0.0% and Less than 0.5%   217   86.45
At NAV   2   0.80
Less than 0.0% and Greater than -0.5%   28   11.16
    251   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 October 31, 2018.
“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. 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 October 31, 2018
  Average Annual Total Returns   Cumulative Total Returns
  1 Year 5 Years Since
Inception
  1 Year 5 Years Since
Inception
Fund NAV (5.96)% 3.71% 4.35%   (5.96)% 19.96% 32.38%
Fund Market (6.30) 3.73 4.34   (6.30) 20.07 32.27
Index (5.64) 4.00 4.71   (5.64) 21.67 35.38
  
  Total returns for the period since inception are calculated from the inception date of the Fund (4/3/12). The first day of secondary market trading in shares of the Fund was 4/3/12.
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For more information visit www.iShares.com or call 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 Company 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.: 811-09102
IS-P-EMHY-0319


March 1, 2019
2019 Prospectus
►  iShares International High Yield Bond ETF | HYXU | CBOE BZX
Beginning on January 1, 2021, as permitted by regulations adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission, 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 Securities and Exchange Commission (“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
“Markit®” and “iBoxx®” are the registered trademarks of Markit Group Limited and Markit Indices Limited respectively and have 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.
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iSHARES® INTERNATIONAL HIGH YIELD BOND ETF
Ticker: HYXU Stock Exchange: Cboe BZX
Investment Objective
The iShares International High Yield Bond ETF (the “Fund”) seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of euro, British pound sterling and Canadian dollar-denominated, high yield corporate bonds.
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, Inc. (the “Company”) 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
Expenses
  Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
0.40%   None   None   0.40%
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
$41   $128   $224   $505
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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 31% of the average value of its portfolio.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the Markit iBoxx Global Developed Markets ex-US High Yield Index (the “Underlying Index”), which is a rules-based index consisting of high yield (as determined by Markit Indices Limited (the “Index Provider” or “Markit”)) corporate bonds denominated in euros, British pounds sterling and Canadian dollars. The Underlying Index is designed to provide a broad representation of the global ex-U.S. dollar high yield corporate bond market. High yield bonds are also known as “junk bonds.” The Underlying Index may include corporate bonds that are issued by companies domiciled in countries classified as developed markets by the Index Provider. Bonds must be from issuers with at least $1 billion face value of debt outstanding. The Underlying Index is a market value weighted index with a cap on each issuer of 3%. There is no limit to the number of issues in the Underlying Index. As of October 31, 2018, a significant portion of the Underlying Index is represented by securities of
companies in the financials, industrials and telecommunications industries or sectors. The components of the Underlying Index are likely to change over time.
The Fund 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”).
The Fund, under normal market conditions, will invest at least 40% of its assets in issuers organized or located outside the U.S. or doing business outside the U.S.
The maturities of the securities in the Underlying Index range from 1-15 years. As of October 31, 2018, the weighted average maturity of the securities in the Underlying Index was 5.00 years, and the weighted average life of these securities (which includes the impact of calls) was 4.99 years.
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 keeping 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
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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, duration, maturity, credit ratings 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 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 money market funds advised by BFA or its affiliates (“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. From time to time when conditions warrant, however, the Fund may invest at least 80% of its assets in the component securities of the Underlying Index and may invest up to 20% 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 Underlying Index is sponsored by Markit, 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), repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities, and securities of state or municipal governments and their political subdivisions 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.
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 may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as Authorized
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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 this prospectus (“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.
Call Risk. During periods of falling interest rates, an issuer of a callable bond held by the Fund may “call” or repay the security before its stated maturity, and the 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 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 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 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. Generally, an increase in the value of the U.S. dollar against a foreign currency will reduce the value of a security denominated in that foreign currency, thereby decreasing the Fund's overall NAV. 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.
Cyber Security Risk. Failures or breaches of the electronic systems of the Fund, the Fund's adviser, distributor, and other service providers, the Index Provider, market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests have the ability to cause disruptions and negatively impact the Fund’s business operations, potentially resulting 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 cyber security plans and systems of the Fund’s service providers, the Index Provider, market makers, Authorized
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Participants or issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
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 investments.
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, and 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, cyber-attacks 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 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 investments in the affected region.
High Yield Securities Risk. Securities that are rated below investment-grade (commonly referred to as “junk bonds,” which may include those bonds rated below “BBB-” by 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.
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.
Income Risk. The Fund's income may decline when interest rates fall. This decline can occur because the Fund may subsequently invest in lower-yielding bonds as bonds in its portfolio mature, are near maturity or are called, bonds in the Underlying Index are substituted, or the 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
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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.
Industrials Sector Risk. Companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by changes in the supply of and demand for products and services, product obsolescence, claims for environmental damage or product liability and changes in general economic conditions, among other factors.
Interest Rate Risk. An increase in interest rates may cause the value of securities held by the 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.
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.
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.
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. The Fund is specifically exposed to European Economic Risk and North American 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
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positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Privately-Issued Securities Risk. The Fund will invest in privately-issued securities, including those that are normally purchased pursuant to Rule 144A or Regulation S under 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.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. The Fund invests 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 North American Economic Risk.
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. The 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 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.
Structural Risk. The countries in which the Fund invests may be subject to considerable degrees of economic, political and social instability.
Telecommunications Sector Risk. Companies in the telecommunications sector may be affected by industry competition, substantial capital requirements, government regulation and obsolescence of telecommunications products and services due to technological advancement.
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), differences in transaction costs, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of distributions, the
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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 HIGH YIELD SECURITIES MAY EXPERIENCE HIGHER TRACKING ERROR THAN OTHER 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. 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 Returns (Years Ended December 31)
The best calendar quarter return during the periods shown above was 8.61% in the 2nd quarter of 2017; the worst was -8.25% in the 1st quarter of 2015.
Updated performance information 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   Since Fund
Inception
(Inception Date: 4/3/2012)          
Return Before Taxes -8.04%   -0.85%   2.85%
Return After Taxes on Distributions1 -9.50%   -1.64%   1.67%
Return After Taxes on Distributions and Sale of Fund Shares1 -4.76%   -0.98%   1.69%
Markit iBoxx Global Developed Markets ex-US High Yield Index (Index returns do not reflect deductions for fees, expenses, or taxes) -7.72%   -0.64%   3.00%

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 and Sub-Adviser. The Fund's investment adviser is BFA. The Fund’s sub-adviser is BlackRock International Limited (“BIL” or the “Sub-Adviser”).
Portfolio Managers. James Mauro and Scott Radell (the “Portfolio Managers”) are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager supervises a portfolio management team. Mr. Mauro and Mr. Radell have been Portfolio Managers of the Fund since 2012.
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 100,000 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 and BIL is the Sub-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 securities index that may not be 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 performance (return) of the Fund's portfolio 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
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indexing strategy. “Replication” is an indexing strategy in which a fund invests in substantially all of the 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, which went into effect on January 1, 2018, 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.
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, as well as 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 also developed increasingly strained relationships with the U.S., and if these relations were to worsen, they could adversely affect Asian issuers that rely on the U.S. for trade. 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. 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.
Call Risk. During periods of falling interest rates, an issuer of a callable bond held by the Fund may “call” or repay the security before its stated maturity, and the 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’s investments will generally follow the weightings of the Underlying Index, which may result in concentration of the Fund’s investments in a small group of countries. To the extent that its investments are concentrated the Fund may be more adversely affected by the underperformance of those bonds, may be subject to 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.
Credit Risk. Credit risk is the risk that the issuer or guarantor of a debt instrument or the counterparty to a derivatives contract, repurchase agreement or loan of portfolio securities is unable or unwilling to make timely interest and/or principal payments when due or otherwise honor its obligations.
The Fund’s portfolio will include below investment-grade bonds, which generally are subject to greater levels of credit risk than higher rated securities. There is the chance that the Fund’s holdings will have their credit ratings downgraded or will default (i.e., fail to make scheduled interest or principal payments), potentially reducing the Fund’s income level and share price. Debt instruments are subject to varying degrees of credit risk, depending on the issuer’s financial condition and on the terms of the securities, which may be reflected in their credit ratings.
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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. Generally, when the U.S. dollar rises in value against a foreign currency, a security denominated in that currency loses value because the currency is worth fewer U.S. dollars. Conversely, when the U.S. dollar decreases in value against a foreign currency, a security denominated in that currency gains value because the currency is worth more U.S. dollars. This risk, generally known as “currency risk,” means that a strong U.S. dollar will reduce returns for U.S. investors, while a weak U.S. dollar will increase those returns. 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.
Cyber Security 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 cyber security 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. Cyber-attacks 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). Cyber security 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, cyber-attacks 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-attacks, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems, including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified and that prevention and
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remediation efforts will not be successful. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cyber security 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.
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 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 may introduce 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. 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 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 could also lead to legal uncertainty and 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. may be less stable than it has been in recent years, and investments in the U.K. 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
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a period of significant political, regulatory and commercial uncertainty as the U.K. seeks to negotiate its long-term exit from the EU.
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 varying 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.
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 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, including non-U.S. financials sector companies, increased risk taking by affected banks may also result in greater overall risk in the 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 cyber-attacks, and may experience technology malfunctions and disruptions. In recent years, cyber-attacks 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. Some of the companies in which the 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.
High Yield Securities Risk. Securities that are rated below investment-grade (commonly referred to as “junk bonds,” which may include those bonds rated below “BBB-” by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch, or “Baa3” by 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.
The major risks of high yield securities investments include:
High yield securities may be issued by less creditworthy issuers. Issuers of high yield securities may have a larger amount of outstanding debt relative to their assets than issuers of investment-grade bonds. In the event of an issuer’s bankruptcy, claims of other creditors may have priority over the claims of high yield securities holders, leaving few or no assets available to repay high yield securities holders.
Prices of high yield securities are subject to extreme price fluctuations. Adverse changes in an issuer’s industry and general economic conditions may have a greater impact on the prices of high yield securities than on other higher rated fixed-income securities. The credit rating of a high yield security does not necessarily address its market value risk. Ratings and market value may change from time to time, positively or negatively, to reflect new developments regarding the issuer.
Issuers of high yield securities may be unable to meet their interest or principal payment obligations because of an economic downturn, specific issuer developments, or the unavailability of additional financing.
High yield securities frequently have redemption features that permit an issuer to repurchase the security from the Fund before it matures. If the issuer redeems high yield securities held by the Fund, the Fund may have to invest the proceeds in bonds with lower yields and may lose income.
High yield securities may be less liquid than higher rated fixed-income securities, even under normal economic conditions. There are fewer dealers in the high yield securities market, and there may be significant differences in the prices quoted for high yield securities by the dealers. Because high yield securities are less liquid, judgment may play a greater role in valuing certain of the Fund’s securities than is the case with securities trading in a more liquid market.
The Fund may incur expenses to the extent necessary to seek recovery upon default or to negotiate new terms with a defaulting issuer.
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
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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 fixed-income securities or the lack of an active market for such securities. To the extent that the Fund invests in securities 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 that is deemed to be liquid when purchased will continue to be liquid for as long as it is held by the Fund. 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 fixed-income holdings at the same time as the Fund, causing increased supply of the Fund’s underlying investments in the market and contributing to liquidity risk and downward pricing pressure.
Income Risk. The Fund’s income may decline if interest rates fall. This decline in income can occur because the Fund may subsequently invest in lower-yielding bonds, as bonds in its portfolio mature, are near maturity or are called, bonds in the Underlying Index are substituted, or the Fund otherwise needs to purchase additional bonds. The Index Provider’s substitution of bonds in the Underlying Index may occur, for example, when the time to maturity for the bond no longer matches the Underlying Index’s stated maturity guidelines.
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. 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. Such errors may negatively or positively impact the Fund and its shareholders. Shareholders should understand that any gains from Index Provider errors will be kept by the Fund and its shareholders
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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. Unscheduled rebalances to the Underlying Index may expose the Fund to additional tracking error risk, which is the risk that the Fund's returns may not track those of the Underlying Index. 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.
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 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.
Interest Rate Risk. As interest rates rise, the value of a fixed-income security held by the Fund is likely to decrease. Securities with longer durations tend to be more sensitive to interest rate changes, usually making their prices more volatile than those of securities with shorter durations. To the extent the Fund invests a substantial portion of its assets in fixed-income securities with longer-term maturities, rising interest rates may cause the value of the Fund’s investments to decline significantly . An increase in interest rates may lead to heightened volatility in the fixed-income markets and adversely affect the liquidity of certain fixed-income investments. In addition, decreases in fixed-income dealer market-making capacity may also potentially lead to heightened volatility and reduced liquidity in the fixed-income markets.
The historically low interest rate environment in recent years was created in part by the U.S. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Fed”) and certain foreign central banks keeping the federal funds and equivalent foreign rates at or near zero percent. The Fed recently raised its benchmark interest rate several times as the U.S. labor market strengthened and economic activity accelerated. The Fed indicated that it expects some further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds
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rate consistent with sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Fed’s objective over the medium term.
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. Changes to the financial condition or credit rating of an issuer of those securities may cause the value of the securities 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.
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. Market risk arises mainly from uncertainty about future values of financial instruments and may be influenced by price, currency and interest rate movements. It represents the potential loss the Fund may suffer through holding financial instruments in the face of market movements or uncertainty. 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. Fixed-income securities with short-term maturities are generally less sensitive to such changes than are fixed-income securities with longer-term maturities. 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
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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 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, including during periods of significant redemption requests or other unusual market conditions. 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
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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.
Non-U.S. Issuers Risk. Securities issued by non-U.S. issuers have 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 which could affect U.S. investments in non-U.S. countries, uncertainties of transnational litigation, and potential restrictions on the flow of international capital, including the possible seizure or nationalization of the securities issued by non-U.S. issuers held by the Fund . Non-U.S. issuers may be subject to less governmental regulation than U.S. issuers. Moreover, individual non-U.S. economies may differ favorably or unfavorably from the U.S. economy in such respects as growth of gross domestic product, rate of inflation, capital reinvestment, resource self-sufficiency and balance of payment positions. Unfavorable political, economic or governmental developments in non-U.S. countries could affect the payment of a security’s principal and interest. Securities issued by non-U.S. issuers may also be less liquid and more difficult to value than securities of U.S. issuers. In addition, the value of these securities may fluctuate due to changes in the exchange rate of the issuer’s local currency against the U.S. dollar.
North American Economic Risk. A decrease in imports or exports, changes in trade regulations or an economic recession in any North American country can have a significant economic effect on the entire North American region and on some or all of the North American countries in which the Fund invests.
The U.S. is Canada's and Mexico's largest trading and investment partner. The Canadian and Mexican economies are significantly affected by developments in the U.S. economy. Since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) in 1994 among Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, total merchandise trade among the three countries has increased. However, political developments in the U.S., including renegotiation of NAFTA and imposition of tariffs by the U.S., may have implications for the trade arrangements among the U.S., Mexico and Canada, which could negatively affect the value of securities held by the Fund. Policy and legislative changes in one country may have a significant effect on North American markets generally, as well as on the value of certain securities held by the Fund.
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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.
Privately-Issued Securities Risk. The Fund will invest in privately-issued securities, including those that are normally purchased pursuant to Rule 144A or Regulation S under the 1933 Act. Privately-issued securities typically may be resold only to qualified institutional buyers, or in a privately negotiated transaction, or to a limited number of purchasers, or in limited quantities after they have been held for a specified period of time and other conditions are met for an exemption from registration. Because there may be relatively few potential purchasers for such securities, especially under adverse market or economic conditions or in the event of adverse changes in the financial condition of the issuer, the Fund may find it more difficult to sell such securities when it may be advisable to do so or it may be able to sell such securities only at prices lower than if such securities were more widely held and traded. At times, it also may be more difficult to determine the fair value of such securities for purposes of computing the Fund’s NAV due to the absence of an active trading market. There can be no assurance that a privately-issued security that is deemed to be liquid when purchased will continue to be liquid for as long as it is held by the Fund, and its value may decline as a result.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. Many countries or regions in which the Fund invests are dependent on trade with certain key trading partners. Reduction in spending on the products and services of the countries, 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 the countries.
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. Investment in developed country issuers may subject the 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 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
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financial markets in these countries or geographic areas and may adversely affect the performance of the issuers to which the 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 expenses. In addition, price fluctuations of certain commodities and regulations impacting the import of commodities may negatively affect developed country economies.
Structural Risk. Certain countries in which the Fund invests may experience currency devaluations, substantial rates of inflation or economic recessions, causing a negative effect on their economies and securities markets.
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. The domestic telecommunications market is characterized by increasing competition and regulation by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and various state regulatory authorities. 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.
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), differences in transaction costs, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of 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 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
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THAT TRACK INDICES WITH SIGNIFICANT WEIGHT IN HIGH YIELD SECURITIES MAY EXPERIENCE HIGHER TRACKING ERROR THAN OTHER 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. Because non-U.S. stock 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.
Basic Materials Industry Risk. Issuers in the basic materials industry may be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, exchange rates, import controls and increased competition. Production of industrial materials often exceeds demand as a result of over-building or economic downturns, leading to poor investment returns. Issuers in the basic materials industry are at risk for environmental damage and product liability claims and may be adversely affected by depletion of resources, delays in technical progress, labor relations and government regulations.
Close-out Risk for Qualified Financial Contracts. Regulations adopted by the prudential regulators 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 and other risks to the Fund.
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Consumer Goods Industry Risk. Companies in the consumer goods industry may be strongly affected by social trends, marketing campaigns and other factors affecting consumer demand. Governmental regulation affecting the use of various food additives may affect the profitability of certain consumer goods companies represented in the Underlying Index. Many consumer goods may be marketed globally, and consumer goods companies may be affected by the demand and market conditions in other countries and regions.
Consumer Services Industry Risk. The success of consumer product manufacturers and retailers (including food and drug retailers, general retailers, media, and travel and leisure companies) is tied closely to the performance of the domestic and international economies, interest rates, exchange rates and consumer confidence. The consumer services industry depends heavily on disposable household income and consumer spending. Companies in the consumer services industry may be subject to severe competition, which may also have an adverse impact on their profitability. Changes in consumer demographics and preferences in the countries in which the issuers of securities held by the Fund are located and in the countries to which they export their products may affect the success of consumer products.
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.
Threshold/Underinvestment Risk. If certain aggregate ownership thresholds are reached either through the actions of BFA and its affiliates or the Fund, or as a result of third-party transactions, 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.
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Portfolio Holdings Information
A description of the Company'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 Company (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 Directors who are not “interested persons” of the Company).
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 0.40%. 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 has entered into a sub-advisory agreement with the Sub-Adviser, an affiliate of BFA, under which BFA pays the Sub-Adviser for services it provides either: (i) a fee equal to a percentage of the management fee paid to BFA under the Investment Advisory Agreement or (ii) an amount based on the cost of the services provided. The Sub-Adviser, subject to the supervision and oversight of the Company's Board of Directors (the “Board”) and BFA, will be primarily responsible for execution of securities transactions outside the U.S. and Canada and may, from time to time, participate in the management of specified assets in the Fund’s portfolio. If the Sub-Adviser provides services relating to both portfolio management and trading, it is entitled to receive from BFA an amount equal to 20% of BFA’s management fee, and if the Sub-Adviser provides services related solely to trading, then it is entitled to receive from BFA an amount equal to 110% of the actual pre-tax costs incurred by the Sub-Adviser.
BFA is located at 400 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. It is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc. (“BlackRock”). As of December 31, 2018, BFA and
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its affiliates provided investment advisory services for assets in excess of $5.97 trillion. BIL is an investment adviser located in the U.K. at Exchange Place One, 1 Semple Street, Edinburgh EH3 8BL, Scotland 011 44 131 472 7200. The Sub-Adviser is a registered investment adviser and a commodity pool operator organized in 1999. BFA, the Sub-Adviser, and their 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 Board of the Investment Advisory Agreement with BFA and the sub-advisory agreement between BFA and the Sub-Adviser is available in the Fund's annual report for the period ended October 31.
Portfolio Managers. James Mauro and Scott Radell 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 portfolio management team to focus on certain asset classes, implementing investment strategy, researching and reviewing investment strategy and overseeing members of his portfolio management team that have more limited responsibilities.
James Mauro has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 2011. Prior to that, Mr. Mauro was a Vice President at State Street Global Advisors. Mr. Mauro has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2012.
Scott Radell has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 2004. Mr. Radell was a credit strategist from 2003 to 2004 and became a portfolio manager at Barclays Global Fund Advisors in 2004. Mr. Radell has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2012.
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”)) and their directors, officers and employees and of 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”) 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,
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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 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.
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
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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.
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 (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section below) 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 Company 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 “HYXU.”
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 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
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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.
Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act restricts investments by 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 Company. 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 Company, the registered investment company must enter into an agreement with the Company.
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 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
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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.
The Fund values fixed-income portfolio securities using last available bid prices or current market quotations provided by dealers or prices (including evaluated prices) supplied by the Fund's approved independent third-party pricing services, each in accordance with valuation policies and procedures approved by the Board. Pricing services may use matrix pricing or valuation models that utilize certain inputs and assumptions to derive values. Pricing services generally value fixed-income securities assuming orderly transactions of an institutional round lot size, but the Fund may hold or transact in such securities in smaller odd lot sizes. Odd lots often trade at lower prices than institutional round lots. An amortized cost method of valuation may be used with respect to debt obligations with sixty days or less remaining to maturity unless BFA determines in good faith that such method does not represent fair value.
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, the Fund’s NAV may change on days when Authorized Participants (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus) 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
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security or other asset or liability does not have a price source due to its lack of liquidity 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.
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 Company may make distributions on a more frequent basis for the Fund. The Company 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 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 Company. Broker-dealers may make available the DTC book-entry Dividend Reinvestment Service for use by beneficial owners of the Fund for reinvestment of
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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. There is no guarantee that shares of the Fund will receive certain regulatory or accounting treatment. 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, including distributions out of the Fund's net short-term capital gains, if any, are taxable to you as ordinary income. The Fund's distributions of net long-term capital gains, if any, in excess of net short-term capital losses are taxable as long-term capital gains, regardless of how long you have held the shares. Long-term capital gains are eligible for taxation at a maximum rate of 15% or 20% for non-corporate shareholders, depending on whether their income exceeds certain threshold amounts. Distributions from the Fund are subject to a 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax on “net investment income,” for individuals with incomes exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 if married and filing jointly) and of estates and trusts. 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.
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 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 will 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 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
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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. entity (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. federal 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 U.S. Internal Revenue Service (“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 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
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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 100,000 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) (“Deposit Securities”) 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 baskets will generally correspond to the price and yield performance of the Fund. 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 (“Fund Securities”) 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.
The Deposit Securities required for purchase of a Creation Unit may be different than the Fund Securities the Fund will deliver upon redemption of Fund shares. The Deposit Securities and Fund Securities, as applicable, in connection with a purchase or redemption of a Creation Unit, generally will correspond pro rata, to the extent practicable, to the securities held by the Fund.
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.
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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 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
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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.
The following table shows, as of November 30, 2018, the approximate value of one Creation Unit, standard 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*
$4,972,000   100,000   $1,900   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.
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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 International High Yield Bond ETF
  Year Ended
10/31/18
  Year Ended
10/31/17
  Year Ended
10/31/16
  Year Ended
10/31/15
  Year Ended
10/31/14
Net asset value, beginning of year $ 53.04   $ 46.91   $ 46.44   $ 52.90   $ 56.84
Net investment income(a) 1.54   1.77   1.82   1.84   2.43
Net realized and unrealized gain (loss)(b) (3.92)   4.85   (0.47)   (6.57)   (3.55)
Net increase (decrease) from investment operations (2.38)   6.62   1.35   (4.73)   (1.12)
Distributions (c)                  
From net investment income   (0.40)   (0.26)   (0.05)   (2.82)
From net realized gain       (0.02)  
Return of capital   (0.09)   (0.62)   (1.66)  
Total distributions   (0.49)   (0.88)   (1.73)   (2.82)
Net asset value, end of year $ 50.66   $ 53.04   $ 46.91   $ 46.44   $ 52.90
Total Return                  
Based on net asset value (4.49)%   14.21%   2.95%   (9.02)%   (2.20)%
Ratios to Average Net Assets                  
Total expenses 0.40%   0.40%   0.51%   0.55%   0.55%
Total expenses after fees waived 0.40%   0.40%   0.40%   0.40%   0.40%
Net investment income 2.87%   3.62%   3.93%   3.85%   4.25%
Supplemental Data                  
Net assets, end of year (000) $65,858   $90,160   $154,796   $185,756   $142,827
Portfolio turnover rate(d) 31%   49%   24%   28%   25%

(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
Markit owns, compiles and publishes the iBoxx bond and iTraxx credit derivative indices, which are used around the world by financial market participants as benchmarks and as the basis for traded products. Markit is a leading provider of independent data, portfolio valuations and over-the-counter derivatives trade processing to the financial markets. Markit is not affiliated with the Company, BFA, State Street, the Distributor, or any of their respective affiliates, and has licensed the Underlying Index in connection with the Fund. “Markit®” and “iBoxx®” are the registered trademarks of Markit Group Limited and Markit Indices Limited, respectively.
Disclaimers
“iBoxx” is a registered trademark of Markit Indices Limited and is licensed for use by BFA or its affiliates. BFA or its affiliates have not been passed on by these entities or their affiliates as to their legality or suitability. Markit does not approve, sponsor, endorse or recommend BFA or the Fund. Markit makes no representation regarding the advisability of investing in the Fund. The Underlying Index is derived from a source considered reliable, but Markit and its employees, suppliers, subcontractors and agents (together “Markit Associates”) do not guarantee the veracity, completeness or accuracy of the Underlying Index or other information furnished in connection with the Underlying Index. No representation, warranty or condition, express or implied, statutory or otherwise, as to condition, satisfactory quality, performance, or fitness for purpose are given or assumed by Markit or any of the Markit Associates in respect of 1) the Underlying Index (including its composition), Fund, or any data included in it, 2) the use by any person or entity of the Fund of that data, 3) the results obtained from the use of the Underlying Index, 4) the creditworthiness of any entity, or the likelihood of the occurrence of a credit event or similar event (however defined) with respect to an obligation, in the Underlying Index, at any particular time on any particular date or otherwise, or 5) the ability of the Underlying Index to track relevant markets' performances or otherwise relating to the Underlying Index or any transaction or product with respect thereto. All such representations, warranties and conditions are excluded except to the extent that such exclusion is prohibited by law. The Markit Associates shall not have any liability to any party for any error or omission, or any act or failure to act in connection with the determination, adjustment, calculation or maintenance of the Underlying Index, nor shall they have any obligation to take the needs of any party into consideration in determining, composing or calculating the Underlying Index.
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 the 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
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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 the shares of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of the 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 Company on behalf of the Fund as licensee, licensee’s customers and counterparties, owners of the 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 or consequential 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.
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 1.0% and Less than 1.5%   3   1.20%
Greater than 0.5% and Less than 1.0%   24   9.56
Greater than 0.0% and Less than 0.5%   181   72.11
At NAV   5   1.99
Less than 0.0% and Greater than -0.5%   38   15.14
    251   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 October 31, 2018.
“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. 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 October 31, 2018
  Average Annual Total Returns   Cumulative Total Returns
  1 Year 5 Years Since
Inception
  1 Year 5 Years Since
Inception
Fund NAV (4.49)% (0.01)% 3.14%   (4.49)% (0.07)% 22.59%
Fund Market (4.75) (0.14) 3.14   (4.75) (0.68) 22.53
Index (4.17) 0.19 3.29   (4.17) 0.97 23.70
  
  Total returns for the period since inception are calculated from the inception date of the Fund (4/3/12). The first day of secondary market trading in shares of the Fund was 4/3/12.
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For more information visit www.iShares.com or call 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 Company 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.: 811-09102
IS-P-HYXU-0319


March 1, 2019
2019 Prospectus
►  iShares J.P. Morgan EM Corporate Bond ETF | CEMB | CBOE BZX
Beginning on January 1, 2021, as permitted by regulations adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission, 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 Securities and Exchange Commission (“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
“J.P. Morgan” and “J.P. Morgan CEMBI Broad Diversified Core Index” are trademarks of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and have 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.
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iSHARES® J.P. MORGAN EM CORPORATE BOND ETF
Ticker: CEMB Stock Exchange: Cboe BZX
Investment Objective
The iShares J.P. Morgan EM Corporate Bond ETF (the “Fund”) seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of U.S. dollar-denominated, emerging market corporate bonds.
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, Inc. (the “Company”) 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
Expenses
  Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
0.50%   None   None   0.50%
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
$51   $160   $280   $628
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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 16% of the average value of its portfolio.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the J.P. Morgan CEMBI Broad Diversified Core Index (the “Underlying Index”), which tracks the performance of the U.S. dollar-denominated emerging market corporate bond market. All bonds included in the Underlying Index are selected according to a set of rule-based inclusion criteria regarding issue size, bond type, maturity, and liquidity. The securities included in the Underlying Index are rebalanced on the last business day of each month. Eligible countries included in the Underlying Index are determined by JPMorgan Chase & Co. or its affiliates (the “Index Provider” or “J.P. Morgan”) based on the Index Provider’s definition of emerging market countries.
The Underlying Index includes bonds issued by corporations based in Latin American, Eastern European, Middle Eastern/African, and Asian countries (excluding Japan). Once the universe of emerging markets countries has been defined, the eligible securities from these countries must be selected for inclusion in the Underlying Index. Bonds
are eligible for inclusion in the Underlying Index if (i) the issuer is headquartered in an emerging market country, (ii) the issue is 100% guaranteed by an entity within an emerging market economy, or (iii) 100% of the issuer’s operating assets are located within emerging market economies. Eligible individual securities must have a minimum outstanding face value of $500 million or more. All component securities included in the Underlying Index must be U.S. dollar-denominated bonds with a minimum of 5 years to maturity or greater to be eligible for the Underlying Index and a remaining maturity of 2 years or greater at the time of rebalancing to remain eligible for the Underlying Index. There are no ratings restrictions on either the individual bonds or the country of risk.
The Underlying Index uses J.P. Morgan’s proprietary market capitalization weighted methodology. The methodology is designed to distribute the weight of each country within the Underlying Index by limiting the weights of countries with higher debt outstanding and reallocating this excess to countries with lower debt outstanding. As of October 31, 2018, the Underlying Index included issuers located in 38 emerging and frontier market countries. Components of the Underlying Index primarily include companies in the financials and oil and gas industries or sectors. The components of the Underlying Index are likely to change over time.
The Fund will 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”).
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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 keeping 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, duration, maturity, credit ratings 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 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 money market funds advised by BFA or its affiliates
(“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. From time to time when conditions warrant, however, the Fund may invest at least 80% of its assets in the component securities of the Underlying Index and may invest up to 20% 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 sponsored by J.P. Morgan, 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), repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities, and securities of state or municipal governments and
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their political subdivisions 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.
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 may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund. 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 this prospectus (“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.
Call Risk. During periods of falling interest rates, an issuer of a callable bond held by the Fund may “call” or repay the security before its stated maturity, and the 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 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 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.
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.
Cyber Security Risk. Failures or breaches of the electronic systems of the Fund, the Fund's adviser,
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distributor, and other service providers, the Index Provider, market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests have the ability to cause disruptions and negatively impact the Fund’s business operations, potentially resulting 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 cyber security plans and systems of the Fund’s service providers, the Index Provider, market makers, Authorized Participants or issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
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 investments.
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, and 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, cyber-attacks 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 invests, which could affect the economy or particular business operations of companies in the specific geographic region, causing an adverse impact on the Fund's investments in the affected region.
High Yield Securities Risk. Securities that are rated below investment-grade (commonly referred to as “junk bonds,” which may include those bonds rated below “BBB-” by 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.
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.
Income Risk. The Fund's income may decline when interest rates fall. This decline can occur because the Fund may subsequently invest in lower-yielding bonds as bonds in its portfolio
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mature, are near maturity or are called, bonds in the Underlying Index are substituted, or the 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 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.
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.
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.
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. The Fund is specifically exposed to Asian Economic Risk, Central and South American Economic Risk and Middle Eastern Economic Risk.
Oil and Gas Industry Risk. Companies in the oil and gas industry are affected by worldwide energy prices and exploration and production costs. Companies in the oil and gas industry may have significant operations in areas at risk for natural disasters, social and political unrest, and environmental damage. These companies may also be at risk for increased government
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regulation and intervention, litigation, and negative publicity and public perception.
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.
Privately-Issued Securities Risk. The Fund will invest in privately-issued securities, including those that are normally purchased pursuant to Rule 144A or Regulation S promulgated under 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.
Privatization Risk. Some countries in which the Fund invests have privatized,
or have 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 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, Eastern European Economic Risk, European Economic Risk and U.S. Economic Risk.
Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets. The Fund's investments in emerging market issuers 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.
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
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and the European Union (the ”EU“), have imposed economic sanctions on certain Russian individuals and Russian corporate entities. These and future sanctions, or even the threat of further sanctions, may adversely affect Russia’s economy and the Fund’s investments.
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.
Security Risk. Some countries and regions in which the Fund invests 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 investments.
Structural Risk. The countries in which the Fund invests may be subject to considerable degrees of economic, political and social instability.
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), differences in transaction costs, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of 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 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 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
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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.
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.
Year by Year Returns (Years Ended December 31)
The best calendar quarter return during the periods shown above was 4.80% in the 1st quarter of 2016; the worst was -5.00% in the 2nd quarter of 2013.
Updated performance information 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   Since Fund
Inception
(Inception Date: 4/17/2012)          
Return Before Taxes -2.83%   3.48%   3.41%
Return After Taxes on Distributions1 -4.62%   1.58%   1.61%
Return After Taxes on Distributions and Sale of Fund Shares1 -1.67%   1.80%   1.81%
J.P. Morgan CEMBI Broad Diversified Core Index (Index returns do not reflect deductions for fees, expenses, or taxes)2 -2.06%   4.10%   4.00%

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 returns through May 31, 2017 reflect the performance of the Morningstar® Emerging Markets Corporate Bond IndexSM. Index returns beginning on June 1, 2017 reflect the performance of the J.P. Morgan CEMBI Broad Diversified Core Index, which, effective as of June 1, 2017, replaced the Morningstar® Emerging Markets Corporate Bond IndexSM as the Underlying Index of the Fund.
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Management
Investment Adviser. BlackRock Fund Advisors.
Portfolio Managers. James Mauro and Scott Radell (the ”Portfolio Managers“) are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager supervises a portfolio management team. Mr. Mauro and Mr. Radell have been Portfolio Managers of the Fund since 2012.
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 securities index that may not be 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 performance (return) of the Fund's portfolio 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
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substantially all of the 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, which went into effect on January 1, 2018, 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.
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, as well as 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 also developed increasingly strained relationships with the U.S., and if these relations were to worsen, they could adversely affect Asian issuers that rely on the U.S. for trade. 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 track other countries, groups of countries, regions, industries, groups of industries,
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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. 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.
Call Risk. During periods of falling interest rates, an issuer of a callable bond held by the Fund may “call” or repay the security before its stated maturity, and the 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.
Central and South American Economic Risk. The economies and financial sectors of certain emerging markets countries are affected by the economies of Central and South American countries, some of which have experienced high interest rates, economic volatility, inflation, currency devaluations, government defaults, high unemployment rates, and expropriation and/or nationalization of assets. In addition, commodities (such as oil, gas and minerals) represent a significant percentage of the region's exports and many economies in this region are particularly sensitive to fluctuations in commodity prices. Adverse economic events in one country may have a significant adverse effect on other countries in this region and on the financial sectors of emerging markets countries.
Concentration Risk. The Fund’s investments will generally follow the weightings of the Underlying Index, which may result in concentration of the Fund’s investments in a particular quasi-sovereign entity or entities in a particular country, group of countries, region, market, sector or asset class. To the extent that its investments are concentrated in a particular quasi-sovereign entity or entities in a particular country, group of countries, region, market, sector or asset class, the Fund may be more adversely affected by the underperformance of those bonds, may be subject to 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.
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Credit Risk. Credit risk is the risk that the issuer or guarantor of a debt instrument or the counterparty to a derivatives contract, repurchase agreement or loan of portfolio securities is unable or unwilling to make timely interest and/or principal payments when due or otherwise honor its obligations.
The Fund’s portfolio may include below investment-grade bonds, which generally are subject to greater levels of credit risk than higher rated securities. There is the chance that the Fund’s holdings will have their credit ratings downgraded or will default (i.e., fail to make scheduled interest or principal payments), potentially reducing the Fund’s income level and share price. Debt instruments are subject to varying degrees of credit risk, depending on the issuer’s financial condition and on the terms of the securities, which may be reflected in their credit ratings.
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 greater the likelihood of custody problems.
Cyber Security 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 cyber security 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. Cyber-attacks 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). Cyber security 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, cyber-attacks may
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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-attacks, 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. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cyber security 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.
Eastern European Economic Risk. An investment in issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe may subject the Fund to legal, regulatory, political, currency, security and economic risks specific to Eastern Europe. Economies of certain Eastern European countries rely heavily on the export of commodities, including oil, gas, and certain metals. As a result, such economies may be impacted by international commodity prices and are particularly vulnerable to global demand for these products. Geopolitical events, acts of terrorism, and other instability in certain Eastern European countries may cause uncertainty in their financial markets and adversely affect the performance of the issuers to which the Fund has exposure. The securities markets in some Eastern European countries are substantially smaller and less developed, with less government supervision and regulation of stock exchanges, and may be less liquid and more volatile than securities markets in the U.S. or Western European countries. In addition, investing in securities of issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe may involve:
The risk of delays in settling portfolio transactions and the risk of loss arising out of the system of share registration and custody used in certain Eastern European countries;
Risks in connection with the maintenance of the Fund's portfolio securities and cash with foreign sub-custodians and securities depositories, including the risk that appropriate sub-custody arrangements will not be available to the Fund;
The risk that the Fund's ownership rights in portfolio securities could be lost through fraud or negligence as a result of the fact that ownership in shares of certain Eastern European companies is recorded by the companies themselves and by registrars, rather than a central registration system;
The risk that the Fund may not be able to pursue claims on behalf of its shareholders because of the system of share registration and custody, and because certain Eastern European banking institutions and registrars are not guaranteed by their respective governments; and
Risks in connection with Eastern European countries' dependence on the economic health of Western European countries and the EU as a whole.
Other risks related to investing in securities of issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe include: the potential absence of legal structures governing private and foreign investments and private property; the possibility of the loss of all or a substantial portion of the Fund’s assets invested in issuers located or operating in Eastern Europe
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as a result of expropriation; and certain national policies which may restrict the Fund’s investment opportunities, including, without limitation, restrictions on investing in issuers or industries deemed sensitive to relevant national interests. In addition, Eastern European securities markets are particularly sensitive to social, political, economic, and currency events in Russia and may suffer heavy losses as a result of their trading and investment links to the Russian economy and currency.
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 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 may introduce 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. 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 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 could also lead to legal uncertainty and 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. may be less stable than it has been in recent years, and investments in the U.K. 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
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a period of significant political, regulatory and commercial uncertainty as the U.K. seeks to negotiate its long-term exit from the EU.
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 varying 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.
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 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, including non-U.S. financials sector companies, increased risk taking by affected banks may also result in greater overall risk in the 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 cyber-attacks, and may experience technology malfunctions and disruptions. In recent years, cyber-attacks 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. Some of the companies in which the 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.
High Yield Securities Risk. Securities that are rated below investment-grade (commonly referred to as “junk bonds,” which may include those bonds rated below “BBB-” by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch, or “Baa3” by 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.
The major risks of high yield securities investments include:
High yield securities may be issued by less creditworthy issuers. Issuers of high yield securities may have a larger amount of outstanding debt relative to their assets than issuers of investment-grade bonds. In the event of an issuer’s bankruptcy, claims of other creditors may have priority over the claims of high yield securities holders, leaving few or no assets available to repay high yield securities holders.
Prices of high yield securities are subject to extreme price fluctuations. Adverse changes in an issuer’s industry and general economic conditions may have a greater impact on the prices of high yield securities than on other higher rated fixed-income securities. The credit rating of a high yield security does not necessarily address its market value risk. Ratings and market value may change from time to time, positively or negatively, to reflect new developments regarding the issuer.
Issuers of high yield securities may be unable to meet their interest or principal payment obligations because of an economic downturn, specific issuer developments, or the unavailability of additional financing.
High yield securities frequently have redemption features that permit an issuer to repurchase the security from the Fund before it matures. If the issuer redeems high yield securities held by the Fund, the Fund may have to invest the proceeds in bonds with lower yields and may lose income.
High yield securities may be less liquid than higher rated fixed-income securities, even under normal economic conditions. There are fewer dealers in the high yield securities market, and there may be significant differences in the prices quoted for high yield securities by the dealers. Because high yield securities are less liquid, judgment may play a greater role in valuing certain of the Fund’s securities than is the case with securities trading in a more liquid market.
The Fund may incur expenses to the extent necessary to seek recovery upon default or to negotiate new terms with a defaulting issuer.
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
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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 fixed-income securities or the lack of an active market for such securities. To the extent that the Fund invests in securities 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 that is deemed to be liquid when purchased will continue to be liquid for as long as it is held by the Fund. 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 fixed-income holdings at the same time as the Fund, causing increased supply of the Fund’s underlying investments in the market and contributing to liquidity risk and downward pricing pressure.
Income Risk. The Fund’s income may decline if interest rates fall. This decline in income can occur because the Fund may subsequently invest in lower-yielding bonds, as bonds in its portfolio mature, are near maturity or are called, bonds in the Underlying Index are substituted, or the Fund otherwise needs to purchase additional bonds. The Index Provider’s substitution of bonds in the Underlying Index may occur, for example, when the time to maturity for the bond no longer matches the Underlying Index’s stated maturity guidelines.
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. 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. Such errors may negatively or positively impact the Fund and its shareholders. Shareholders should understand that any gains from Index Provider errors will be kept by the Fund and its shareholders
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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. Unscheduled rebalances to the Underlying Index may expose the Fund to additional tracking error risk, which is the risk that the Fund's returns may not track those of the Underlying Index. 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.
Interest Rate Risk. As interest rates rise, the value of a fixed-income security held by the Fund is likely to decrease. Securities with longer durations tend to be more sensitive to interest rate changes, usually making their prices more volatile than those of securities with shorter durations. To the extent the Fund invests a substantial portion of its assets in fixed-income securities with longer-term maturities, rising interest rates may cause the value of the Fund’s investments to decline significantly . An increase in interest rates may lead to heightened volatility in the fixed-income markets and adversely affect the liquidity of certain fixed-income investments. In addition, decreases in fixed-income dealer market-making capacity may also potentially lead to heightened volatility and reduced liquidity in the fixed-income markets.
The historically low interest rate environment in recent years was created in part by the U.S. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “Fed”) and certain foreign central banks keeping the federal funds and equivalent foreign rates at or near zero percent. The Fed recently raised its benchmark interest rate several times as the U.S. labor market strengthened and economic activity accelerated. The Fed indicated that it expects some further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate consistent with sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Fed’s objective over the medium term.
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. Changes to the financial condition or credit rating of an issuer of those securities may cause the value of the securities 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.
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
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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. Market risk arises mainly from uncertainty about future values of financial instruments and may be influenced by price, currency and interest rate movements. It represents the potential loss the Fund may suffer through holding financial instruments in the face of market movements or uncertainty. 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. The Fund invests primarily in emerging market bonds and, as a result, the Fund’s portfolio may have greater exposure to market risk than a fund that invests in securities of developed markets. Fixed-income securities with short-term maturities are generally less sensitive to such changes than are fixed-income securities with longer term maturities. 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 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
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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, including during periods of significant redemption requests or other unusual market conditions. 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 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
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advisable for investors who anticipate regularly making small investments through a brokerage account.
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 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.
Non-U.S. Issuers Risk. Securities issued by non-U.S. issuers have 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 which could affect U.S. investments in non-U.S. countries, uncertainties of transnational litigation, and potential restrictions on the flow of international capital, including the possible seizure or nationalization of the securities issued by non-U.S. issuers held by the Fund . Non-U.S. issuers may be subject to less governmental regulation than U.S. issuers. Moreover, individual non-U.S. economies may differ favorably or unfavorably from the U.S. economy in such respects as growth of gross domestic product, rate of inflation, capital reinvestment, resource self-sufficiency and balance of payment positions. Unfavorable political, economic or governmental developments in non-U.S. countries could affect the payment of a security’s principal and interest. Securities issued by non-U.S. issuers may also be less liquid and more difficult to value than securities of U.S. issuers. In addition, the value of these securities may fluctuate due to changes in the exchange rate of the issuer’s local currency against the U.S. dollar.
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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 or interest rates; prices for competitive energy services, economic conditions, tax treatment, or government regulation; 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.
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.
Privately-Issued Securities Risk. The Fund will invest in privately-issued securities, including those that are normally purchased pursuant to Rule 144A or Regulation S under the 1933 Act. Privately-issued securities typically may be resold only to qualified institutional buyers, or in a privately negotiated transaction, or to a limited number of purchasers, or in limited quantities after they have been held for a specified period of time and other conditions are met for an exemption from registration. Because there may be relatively few potential purchasers for such securities, especially under adverse market or economic conditions or in the event of adverse changes in the financial condition of the issuer, the Fund may find it more difficult to sell such securities when it may be advisable to do so or it may be able to sell such securities only at prices lower than if such securities were more widely held and traded. At times, it also may be more difficult to determine the fair value of such securities for purposes of computing the Fund’s NAV due to the absence of an active trading market. There can be no assurance that a privately-issued security that is deemed to be liquid when purchased will continue to be liquid for as long as it is held by the Fund, and its value may decline as a result.
Privatization Risk. Some countries in which the Fund invests have privatized, or have begun the 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
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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. Economies in emerging market countries generally are heavily dependent upon commodity prices and international trade and, accordingly, have been and may continue to be affected adversely by the economies of their trading partners, trade barriers, exchange controls, managed adjustments in relative currency values, and may suffer from extreme and volatile debt burdens or inflation rates. These countries may be subject to other protectionist measures imposed or negotiated by the countries with which they trade.
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 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.
Risk of Investing in Russia. Investing in Russian securities involves significant risks, in addition to those described under “Risk of Investing in Emerging Markets” and “Non-U.S. Securities Risk” that are not typically associated with investing in U.S. securities, including:
The risk of delays in settling portfolio transactions and the risk of loss arising out of the system of share registration and custody used in Russia;
Risks in connection with the maintenance of the Fund’s portfolio securities and cash with foreign sub-custodians and securities depositories, including the risk that appropriate sub-custody arrangements will not be available to the Fund;
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The risk that the Fund’s ownership rights in portfolio securities could be lost through fraud or negligence because ownership in shares of Russian companies is recorded by the companies themselves and by registrars, rather than by a central registration system; and
The risk that the Fund may not be able to pursue claims on behalf of its shareholders because of the system of share registration and custody, and because Russian banking institutions and registrars are not guaranteed by the Russian government.
Russia Sanctions. The U.S. and the Economic and Monetary Union of the EU, along with the regulatory bodies of a number of countries including Japan, Australia, Norway, Switzerland and Canada (collectively, “Sanctioning Bodies”), have imposed economic sanctions, which consist of prohibiting certain securities trades, prohibiting certain private transactions in the energy sector, asset freezes and prohibition of all business, against certain Russian individuals and Russian corporate entities. The Sanctioning Bodies could also institute broader sanctions on Russia. These sanctions, or even the threat of further sanctions, may result in the decline of the value and liquidity of Russian securities, a weakening of the ruble or other adverse consequences to the Russian economy. These sanctions could also result in the immediate freeze of Russian securities and/or funds invested in prohibited assets, impairing the ability of the Fund to buy, sell, receive or deliver those securities and/or assets. Additional sanctions against Russia have been, and may in the future be, imposed by the U.S. or other countries.
The sanctions against certain Russian issuers include prohibitions on transacting in or dealing in issuances of debt or equity of such issuers. Compliance with each of these sanctions may impair the ability of the Fund to buy, sell, hold, receive or deliver the affected securities or other securities of such issuers. If it becomes impracticable or unlawful for the Fund to hold securities subject to, or otherwise affected by, sanctions (collectively, “affected securities”), or if deemed appropriate by BFA, the Fund may prohibit in-kind deposits of the affected securities in connection with creation transactions and instead require a cash deposit, which may also increase the Fund's transaction costs. The Fund may also be legally required to freeze assets in a blocked account.
Also, if an affected security is included in the Fund's Underlying Index, the Fund may, where practicable, seek to eliminate its holdings of the affected security by employing or augmenting its representative sampling strategy to seek to track the investment results of its Underlying Index. The use of (or increased use of) a representative sampling strategy may increase the Fund’s tracking error risk. If the affected securities constitute a significant percentage of the Underlying Index, the Fund may not be able to effectively implement a representative sampling strategy, which may result in significant tracking error between the Fund’s performance and the performance of its Underlying Index.
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Current or future sanctions may result in Russia taking counter measures or retaliatory actions, which may further impair the value and liquidity of Russian securities. These retaliatory measures may include the immediate freeze of Russian assets held by the Fund. In the event of such a freeze of any Fund assets, including depositary receipts, the Fund may need to liquidate non-restricted assets in order to satisfy any Fund redemption orders. The liquidation of Fund assets during this time may also result in the Fund receiving substantially lower prices for its securities.
These sanctions may also lead to changes in the Fund’s Underlying Index. The Fund’s Index Provider may remove securities from the Underlying Index or implement caps on the securities of certain issuers that have been subject to recent economic sanctions. In such an event, it is expected that the Fund will rebalance its portfolio to bring it in line with the Underlying Index as a result of any such changes, which may result in transaction costs and increased tracking error. These sanctions, the volatility that may result in the trading markets for Russian securities and the possibility that Russia may impose investment or currency controls on investors may cause the Fund to invest in, or increase the Fund’s investments in, depositary receipts that represent the securities of the Underlying Index. These investments may result in increased transaction costs and increased tracking error.
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., 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.
Security Risk. Some geographic areas in which the Fund invests have experienced acts of terrorism and strained international relations due to territorial disputes, historical animosities, defense concerns and other security concerns. These situations may cause uncertainty in the markets of these geographic areas and may adversely affect their economies.
Structural Risk. Certain countries in which the Fund invests may experience currency devaluations, substantial rates of inflation or economic recessions, causing a negative effect on their economies and securities markets.
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), differences in transaction costs, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of 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
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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 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, certain country or countries in which the Fund invests. As a result, economic conditions of such countries may be particularly affected by changes in the U.S. economy. A decrease in U.S. imports or exports, new trade and financial regulations or tariffs, changes in the U.S. dollar exchange rate or an economic slowdown in the U.S. may have a material adverse effect on the economic conditions of such countries 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. stock 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. 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.
African Economic Risk. Investing in the economies of African countries involves risks not typically associated with investments in securities of issuers in more developed economies, countries or geographic regions that may negatively affect the value of investments in the Fund. Such heightened risks include, among others, expropriation and/or nationalization of assets, restrictions on and government intervention in international trade, confiscatory taxation, political instability, including authoritarian and/or military involvement in governmental decision making, armed conflict, civil war, and social instability as a result of religious, ethnic and/or socioeconomic unrest or widespread outbreaks of disease.
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The securities markets in Africa are underdeveloped and are often considered to be less correlated to global economic cycles than markets located in more developed economies, countries or geographic regions. Securities markets in African countries are subject to greater risks associated with market volatility, lower market capitalization, lower trading volume, illiquidity, inflation, greater price fluctuations, uncertainty regarding the existence of trading markets, governmental control and heavy regulation of labor and industry. Moreover, trading on African securities markets may be suspended altogether.
Certain governments in African countries may restrict or control to varying degrees the ability of foreign investors to invest in securities of issuers located or operating in those countries. Moreover, certain countries in Africa may require governmental approval or special licenses prior to investment by foreign investors; may limit the amount of investment by foreign investors in a particular industry and/or issuer; may limit such foreign investment to a certain class of securities of an issuer that may have less advantageous rights than the classes available for purchase by domestic investors of those countries; and/or may impose additional taxes on foreign investors. These factors, among others, make investing in issuers located or operating in countries in Africa significantly riskier than investing in issuers located or operating in more developed countries.
Close-out Risk for Qualified Financial Contracts. Regulations adopted by the prudential regulators 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 and other risks to the Fund.
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
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influenced by unpredictable factors. These companies may be subject to severe competition, which may have an adverse impact on their profitability.
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 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.
Media Sub-Industry Risk. Companies in the media sub-industry may encounter distressed cash flows due to the need to commit substantial capital to meet increasing competition, particularly in formulating new products and services using new technology. Media companies are subject to risks that include cyclicality of revenues and earnings, a potential decrease in the discretionary income of targeted individuals, changing consumer tastes and interests, competition in the industry and the potential for increased state and federal regulation. Advertising spending is an important source of revenue for media companies. During economic downturns advertising spending typically decreases and as a result, media companies tend to generate less revenue.
Metals and Mining Industry Risk. The Fund will invest in securities that are issued by and/or have exposure to, companies primarily involved in the metals and mining industry. Investments in metals and mining companies may be speculative and subject to greater price volatility than investments in other types of companies. The profitability of companies in the metals and mining industry is related to, among other things, worldwide metal prices and extraction and production costs. Worldwide metal prices may fluctuate substantially over short periods of time, and as a result, the Fund’s share price may be more volatile than other types of investments. In addition, metals and mining companies may be significantly affected by changes in global demand for certain metals, economic developments, energy conservation, the success of exploration projects, changes in exchange rates, interest rates, economic conditions, tax treatment, trade treaties, and government regulation and intervention, and events in the regions that the companies to which the Fund has exposure operate (e.g., expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property, the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments or repatriation of capital, military coups, social or political unrest, violence and labor unrest). Metals and mining companies may also be subject to the effects of competitive pressures in the metals and mining industry.
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. Investment in developed country issuers may subject the Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, economic and other risks associated with developed countries. Developed countries generally tend to rely
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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 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 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 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 Frontier Markets. Frontier markets are those emerging markets considered to be among the smallest, least mature and the securities of the issuers of which are the least liquid. Investments in frontier markets generally are subject to a greater risk of loss than investments in developed markets or traditional emerging markets. This is due to, among other things, smaller economies, less developed capital markets, greater market volatility, lower trading volume, political and economic instability, greater risk of a market shutdown and more governmental limitations on foreign investments than typically found in more developed markets. Frontier markets are even more prone to economic shocks associated with political and economic risks than are emerging markets generally. Many frontier market countries may be dependent on commodities, foreign trade or foreign aid. As a result, those risks traditionally associated with investments in emerging markets may be more pronounced with respect to investments in frontier market economies.
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 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. 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 ownership thresholds are reached either through the actions of BFA and its affiliates or the Fund, or as a result of third-party transactions, the ability of BFA and its affiliates on behalf of clients (including the Fund) to purchase or dispose of investments, or exercise rights or
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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.
Utilities Sector Risk. Deregulation may subject utility companies to greater competition and may adversely affect their profitability. As deregulation allows utility companies to diversify outside of their original geographic regions and their traditional lines of business, utility companies may engage in riskier ventures. In addition, deregulation may eliminate restrictions on the profits of certain utility companies, but may also subject these companies to greater risk of loss. Companies in the utilities industry may have difficulty obtaining an adequate return on invested capital, raising capital, or financing large construction projects during periods of inflation or unsettled capital markets; face restrictions on operations and increased cost and delays attributable to environmental considerations and regulation; find that existing plants, equipment or products have been rendered obsolete by technological innovations; or be subject to increased costs because of the scarcity of certain fuels or the effects of man-made or natural disasters. Existing and future regulations or legislation may make it difficult for utility companies to operate profitably. Government regulators monitor and control utility revenues and costs, and therefore may limit utility profits. In certain countries, regulatory authorities may also restrict utility companies’ access to new markets, thereby diminishing these companies’ long-term prospects. There is no assurance that regulatory authorities will grant rate increases in the future or that such increases will be adequate to permit the payment of coupon payments on bonds issued by such company. Energy conservation and changes in climate policy may also have a significant adverse impact on the revenues and expenses of utility companies.
Portfolio Holdings Information
A description of the Company'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.
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Pursuant to the Investment Advisory Agreement between BFA and the Company (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 Directors who are not “interested persons” of the Company).
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 0.50%. 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 December 31, 2018, BFA and its affiliates provided investment advisory services for assets in excess of $5.97 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 Company's Board of Directors (the “Board”) of the Investment Advisory Agreement with BFA is available in the Fund's annual report for the period ended October 31.
Portfolio Managers. James Mauro and Scott Radell 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 portfolio management team to focus on certain asset classes, implementing investment strategy, researching and reviewing investment strategy and overseeing members of his portfolio management team that have more limited responsibilities.
James Mauro has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 2011. Prior to that, Mr. Mauro was a Vice President at State Street Global Advisors. Mr. Mauro has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2012.
Scott Radell has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 2004. Mr. Radell was a credit strategist from 2003 to 2004 and became a portfolio manager at Barclays Global Fund Advisors in 2004. Mr. Radell has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2012.
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.
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Conflicts of Interest. The investment activities of BFA and its affiliates (including BlackRock and its subsidiaries (collectively, the “Affiliates”)) and their directors, officers and employees and of 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”) 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 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.
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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 BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A., 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 (as defined in the Creations and Redemptions section below) 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 Company does not impose any minimum
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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 “CEMB.”
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 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.
Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act restricts investments by 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 Company. 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 Company, the registered investment company must enter into an agreement with the Company.
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,
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