485BPOS 1 d701597d485bpos.htm FORM 485BPOS Form 485BPOS

As filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on August 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. 498   
and/or   
REGISTRATION STATEMENT   
UNDER     
THE INVESTMENT COMPANY ACT OF 1940   
Amendment No. 500   

(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 August 30, 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

 

 

 


August 30, 2019
   
    
2019 Prospectus
iShares, Inc.
•  iShares Asia/Pacific Dividend ETF | DVYA |  NYSE ARCA
Beginning on January 1, 2021, as permitted by regulations adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), paper copies of the Fund’s shareholder reports will no longer be sent by mail, unless you specifically request paper copies of the reports from your financial intermediary, such as a broker-dealer or bank. Instead, the reports will be made available on a website, and you will be notified by mail each time a report is posted and provided with a website link to access the report.
If you already elected to receive shareholder reports electronically, you will not be affected by this change and you need not take any action. If you hold accounts through a financial intermediary, you may contact your financial intermediary to enroll in electronic delivery. Please note that not all financial intermediaries may offer this service.
You may elect to receive all future reports in paper free of charge. If you hold accounts through a financial intermediary, you can follow the instructions included with this disclosure, if applicable, or contact your financial intermediary to request that you continue to receive paper copies of your shareholder reports. Please note that not all financial intermediaries may offer this service. Your election to receive reports in paper will apply to all funds held with your financial intermediary.
The SEC has not approved or disapproved these securities or passed upon the adequacy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 



 


Table of Contents
The “Dow Jones Asia/Pacific Select Dividend 30 IndexTM” is a product of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC (“SPDJI”), and has been licensed for use by BlackRock Fund Advisors or its affiliates. Standard & Poor’s® and S&P® are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC (“S&P”); Dow Jones® is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC (“Dow Jones”); iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates, and these trademarks have been licensed for use by SPDJI and sublicensed for certain purposes by iShares, Inc. The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by SPDJI, Dow Jones, S&P or their respective affiliates, and none of such parties makes any representation regarding the advisability of investing in such product(s), nor do they have any liability for any errors, omissions, or interruptions of the Dow Jones Asia/Pacific Select Dividend 30 Index.
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iSHARES® ASIA/PACIFIC DIVIDEND ETF
Ticker: DVYA Stock Exchange: NYSE Arca
Investment Objective
The iShares Asia/Pacific Dividend ETF (the “Fund”) seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of relatively high dividend paying equities in Asia/Pacific developed markets.
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
Expenses1
  Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
0.49%   None   0.00%   0.49%

1 The amount rounded to 0.00%.
Example. This Example is intended to help you compare the cost of owning shares of the Fund with the cost of investing in other funds. The Example assumes that you invest $10,000 in the Fund for the time periods indicated and then sell all of your shares at the end of those periods. The Example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions, your costs would be:
1 Year   3 Years   5 Years   10 Years
$50   $157   $274   $616
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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 46% of the average value of its portfolio.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the Dow Jones Asia/Pacific Select Dividend 30 Index (the “Underlying Index”), which measures the stock performance of high dividend paying companies listed in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore. The Underlying Index measures the performance of a selected group of equity securities, excluding real estate investment trusts (“REITs”), issued by companies that have provided relatively high dividend yields on a consistent basis. Dividend yield is calculated using a stock’s unadjusted indicated annual dividend (not including any special dividends) divided by its unadjusted price.
The Underlying Index universe is defined as all companies in the S&P BMI country indices for Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore for the represented markets with non-negative trailing 12-month earnings-per-share.
The top 30 stocks by indicated dividend yield are included in the Underlying Index, subject to buffers designed to limit turnover by favoring current
constituents. Constituent weightings are assigned annually based on indicated annual dividend yield, with the weightings of any individual company capped at 10%.
The Underlying Index may include large-, mid- or small-capitalization companies. As of April 30, 2019, a significant portion of the Underlying Index is represented by securities of companies in the consumer services and financials industries or sectors. The components of the Underlying Index, which meet minimum market capitalization and trading volume criteria and pass various screens for the size and consistency of dividend payments, are likely to change over time.
BFA uses a “passive” or indexing approach to try to achieve the Fund’s investment objective. Unlike many investment companies, the Fund does not try to “beat” the index it tracks and does not seek temporary defensive positions when markets decline or appear overvalued.
Indexing may eliminate the chance that the Fund will substantially outperform the Underlying Index but also may reduce some of the risks of active management, such as poor security selection. Indexing seeks to achieve lower costs and better after-tax performance by aiming to keep portfolio turnover low in comparison to actively managed investment companies.
BFA uses a representative sampling indexing strategy to manage the Fund. “Representative sampling” is an indexing strategy that involves investing in a representative sample of securities that collectively has an investment profile similar to that of an applicable underlying index. The securities
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selected are expected to have, in the aggregate, investment characteristics (based on factors such as market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of an applicable underlying index. The Fund may or may not hold all of the securities in the Underlying Index.
The Fund generally will invest at least 90% of its assets in the component securities of the Underlying Index and in investments that have economic characteristics that are substantially identical to the component securities of the Underlying Index (i.e., depositary receipts representing securities of the Underlying Index) and may invest up to 10% of its assets in certain futures, options and swap contracts, cash and cash equivalents, including shares of money market funds advised by BFA or its affiliates, as well as in securities not included in the Underlying Index, but which BFA believes will help the Fund track the Underlying Index. 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 S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC (the “Index Provider” or “SPDJI”), which is independent of the Fund and BFA. The Index Provider determines the composition and relative weightings of the securities in the Underlying Index and publishes information regarding the market value of the Underlying Index.
Industry Concentration Policy. The Fund will concentrate its investments (i.e., hold 25% or more of its total assets) in a particular industry or group of industries to approximately the same extent that the Underlying Index is concentrated. For purposes of this limitation, securities of the U.S. government (including its agencies and instrumentalities) and repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.
Summary of Principal Risks
As with any investment, you could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund's performance could trail that of other investments. The Fund is subject to certain risks, including the principal risks noted below, any of which may adversely affect the Fund's net asset value per share (“NAV”), trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Asset Class Risk. Securities and other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund's portfolio may underperform in comparison to the general financial markets, a particular financial market or other asset classes.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant (as defined in the Shareholder Information section of this prospectus (the “Prospectus”)) may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund, and none of those Authorized Participants is obligated to engage in creation and/or redemption transactions. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as
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Authorized Participants on an agency basis (i.e., on behalf of other market participants). To the extent that Authorized Participants exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units (as defined in the Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares section of the Prospectus), Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium or discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts or delisting. Authorized Participant concentration risk may be heightened for exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”), such as the Fund, that invest in securities issued by non-U.S. issuers or other securities or instruments that have lower trading volumes.
Calculation Methodology Risk. The Underlying Index relies on various sources of information to assess the criteria of issuers included in the Underlying Index, including information that may be based on assumptions and estimates. Neither the Fund nor BFA can offer assurances that the Underlying Index’s calculation methodology or sources of information will provide an accurate assessment of included issuers.
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.
Consumer Services Industry Risk. Companies in the consumer services industry may be affected by, among other things, changes in the domestic and international economies, exchange rates, competition, consumers' disposable income and consumer preferences.
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's NAV is determined in U.S. dollars, the Fund's NAV could decline if the currency of a non-U.S. market in which the Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of such currency. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the Fund's NAV may change quickly and without warning.
Cybersecurity Risk. Failures or breaches of the electronic systems of the Fund, the Fund's adviser, distributor, the Index Provider and other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests have the ability to cause disruptions, negatively impact the Fund’s business operations and/or potentially result in financial losses to the Fund and its shareholders. While the Fund has established business continuity plans and risk management systems seeking to address system breaches or failures, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cybersecurity plans and systems of the Fund’s Index Provider and other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
Dividend-Paying Stock Risk. The Fund’s emphasis on dividend-paying stocks involves the risk that such stocks
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may fall out of favor with investors and underperform the broader market. Also, there is no guarantee that issuers of the stocks held by the Fund will declare dividends in the future or that, if declared, they will either remain at current levels or increase over time.
Equity Securities Risk. Equity securities are subject to changes in value, and their values may be more volatile than those of other asset classes. The Underlying Index is comprised of common stocks, which generally subject their holders to more risks than preferred stocks and debt securities because common stockholders’ claims are subordinated to those of holders of preferred stocks and debt securities upon the bankruptcy of the issuer.
Financials Sector Risk. Performance of companies in the financials sector may be adversely impacted by many factors, including, among others, changes in government regulations, economic conditions, 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.
Index-Related Risk. There is no guarantee that the Fund’s investment results will have a high degree of correlation to those of the Underlying Index or that the Fund will achieve its investment objective. Market disruptions and regulatory restrictions could have an adverse effect on the Fund’s ability to adjust its exposure to the required levels in order to track the Underlying Index. Errors in index data, index computations or the construction of the Underlying Index in accordance with its methodology may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, which may have an adverse impact on the Fund and its shareholders.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities to which the Fund has exposure. Changes in the financial condition or credit rating of an issuer of those securities may cause the value of the securities to decline. There is no guarantee that an issuer that paid dividends in the past will continue to do so in the future or will continue paying dividends at the same level.
Large-Capitalization Companies Risk. Large-capitalization companies may be less able than smaller capitalization companies to adapt to changing market conditions. Large-capitalization companies may be more mature and subject to more limited growth potential compared with smaller capitalization companies. During different market
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cycles, the performance of large-capitalization companies has trailed the overall performance of the broader securities markets.
Management Risk. As the Fund will not fully replicate the Underlying Index, it is subject to the risk that BFA's investment strategy may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns.
Market Trading Risk. The Fund faces numerous market trading risks, including the potential lack of an active market for Fund shares, losses from trading in secondary markets, periods of high volatility and disruptions in the creation/redemption process. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV.
Mid-Capitalization Companies Risk. Compared to large-capitalization companies, mid-capitalization companies may be less stable and more susceptible to adverse developments. In addition, the securities of mid-capitalization companies may be more volatile and less liquid than those of large-capitalization companies.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund trade on foreign exchanges or in foreign markets that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of such an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed
foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks associated with investing in those non-U.S. markets, such as heightened risks of inflation or nationalization. The Fund may lose money due to political, economic and geographic events affecting issuers of non-U.S. securities or non-U.S. markets. In addition, non-U.S. securities markets may trade a small number of securities and may be unable to respond effectively to changes in trading volume, potentially making prompt liquidation of holdings difficult or impossible at times. The Fund is specifically exposed to Asian Economic Risk and Australasian 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.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. The Fund invests in countries or regions
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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 and U.S. Economic Risk.
Risk of Investing in Asia. Investments in securities of issuers in certain Asian countries involve risks that are specific to Asia, including certain legal, regulatory, political and economic risks. Certain Asian countries have experienced expropriation and/or nationalization of assets, confiscatory taxation, political instability, armed conflict and social instability as a result of religious, ethnic, socio-economic and/or political unrest. In particular, escalated tensions involving North Korea and any outbreak of hostilities involving North Korea, or even the threat of an outbreak of hostilities, could have a severe adverse effect on Asian economies. Some economies in this region are dependent on a range of commodities, and are strongly affected by international commodity prices and particularly vulnerable to price changes for these products. The market for securities in this region may also be directly influenced by the flow of international capital, and by the economic and market conditions of neighboring countries. Many Asian economies have experienced rapid growth and industrialization, and there is no assurance that this growth rate will be maintained. Some Asian economies are highly dependent on trade, institution of tariffs or other trade barriers and economic conditions in other countries can impact these economies.
Risk of Investing in Australia. Investments in Australian issuers may subject the Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, and economic risk specific to Australia. The Australian economy is heavily dependent on exports from the energy, agricultural and mining sectors. This makes the Australian economy susceptible to fluctuations in the commodity markets. Australia is also dependent on trading with key trading partners.
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.
Risk of Investing in Hong Kong. Investments in Hong Kong issuers may subject the Fund to legal, regulatory, political, currency, security, and economic risk specific to Hong Kong. China is Hong Kong’s largest trading partner, both in terms of exports and imports. Any changes in the Chinese economy, trade regulations or currency
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exchange rates, or a tightening of China’s control over Hong Kong, may have an adverse impact on Hong Kong’s economy.
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.
Small Fund Risk. When the Fund’s size is small, the Fund may experience low trading volume and wide bid/ask spreads. In addition, the Fund may face the risk of being delisted if the Fund does not meet certain conditions of the listing exchange. Any resulting liquidation of the Fund could cause the Fund to incur elevated transaction costs for the Fund and negative tax consequences for its shareholders.
Tracking Error Risk. The Fund may be subject to tracking error, which is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities and other instruments held in the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences (including, as applicable, differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the Fund's valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the Fund's NAV), transaction costs incurred by the Fund, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash,
differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or interest, the requirements to maintain pass-through tax treatment, portfolio transactions carried out to minimize the distribution of capital gains to shareholders, changes to the Underlying Index or the costs to the Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. This risk may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions. Tracking error also may result because the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not.
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 Returns1 (Years Ended December 31)

1 The Fund’s year-to-date return as of June 30, 2019 was 11.93%.
The best calendar quarter return during the periods shown above was 10.56% in the 3rd quarter of 2016; the worst was -18.77% in the 3rd quarter of 2015.
Updated performance information, including the Fund’s current NAV, may be obtained by visiting our website at www.iShares.com or by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) (toll free).
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Average Annual Total Returns
(for the periods ended December 31, 2018)
  One Year   Five Years   Since Fund
Inception
(Inception Date: 2/23/2012)          
Return Before Taxes -15.02%   -0.78%   1.65%
Return After Taxes on Distributions1 -16.31%   -2.07%   0.31%
Return After Taxes on Distributions and Sale of Fund Shares1 -8.15%   -0.69%   1.19%
Dow Jones Asia/Pacific Select Dividend 30 Index (Index returns do not reflect deductions for fees, expenses, or taxes) -14.81%   -0.56%   1.95%

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. Rachel Aguirre, Jennifer Hsui, Alan Mason, Greg Savage and Amy Whitelaw (the “Portfolio Managers”) are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager supervises a portfolio management team. Ms. Aguirre, Ms. Hsui, Mr. Mason, Mr. Savage and Ms. Whitelaw have been Portfolio Managers of the Fund since 2018, 2012, 2016, 2012 and 2018, respectively.
Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares
The Fund is an ETF. Individual shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange. Most investors will buy and sell shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer. The price of Fund shares is based on market price, and because ETF shares trade at market prices rather than at NAV, shares may trade at a price greater than NAV (a premium) or less than NAV (a discount). The Fund will only issue or redeem shares that have been aggregated into blocks of 50,000 shares or multiples thereof (“Creation Units”) to Authorized Participants who have entered into agreements with the Fund's distributor. The Fund generally will issue or redeem Creation Units in return for a designated portfolio of securities (and an amount of cash) that the Fund specifies each day.
Tax Information
The Fund intends to make distributions that may be taxable to you as ordinary income or capital gains, unless you are investing through a tax-deferred arrangement such as a 401(k) plan or an IRA, in which case, your distributions generally will be taxed when withdrawn.
Payments to Broker-Dealers and Other Financial Intermediaries
If you purchase shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary (such as a bank), BFA or other related companies may pay the intermediary for marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems or other services related to the sale or promotion of the Fund. These payments may create a conflict of interest by influencing the broker-dealer or other intermediary and your salesperson to recommend the Fund over another investment. Ask your salesperson or visit your financial intermediary’s website for more information.
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More Information About the Fund
This Prospectus contains important information about investing in the Fund. Please read this Prospectus carefully before you make any investment decisions. Additional information regarding the Fund is available at www.iShares.com.
BFA is the investment adviser to the Fund. Shares of the Fund are listed for trading on NYSE Arca, Inc. (“NYSE Arca”). The market price for a share of the Fund may be different from the Fund’s most recent NAV.
ETFs are funds that trade like other publicly-traded securities. The Fund is designed to track an index. Similar to shares of an index mutual fund, each share of the Fund represents an ownership interest in an underlying portfolio of securities and other instruments intended to track a market index. Unlike shares of a mutual fund, which can be bought and redeemed from the issuing fund by all shareholders at a price based on NAV, shares of the Fund may be purchased or redeemed directly from the Fund at NAV solely by Authorized Participants and only in Creation Unit increments. Also unlike shares of a mutual fund, shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange and trade in the secondary market at market prices that change throughout the day.
The Fund invests in a particular segment of the securities markets and seeks to track the performance of a securities index that is not representative of the market as a whole. The Fund is designed to be used as part of broader asset allocation strategies. Accordingly, an investment in the Fund should not constitute a complete investment program.
An index is a financial calculation, based on a grouping of financial instruments, and is not an investment product, while the Fund is an actual investment portfolio. The performance of the Fund and the Underlying Index may vary for a number of reasons, including transaction costs, non-U.S. currency valuations, asset valuations, corporate actions (such as mergers and spin-offs), timing variances and differences between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index resulting from the Fund's use of representative sampling or from legal restrictions (such as diversification requirements) that apply to the Fund but not to the Underlying Index. From time to time, the Index Provider may make changes to the methodology or other adjustments to the Underlying Index. Unless otherwise determined by BFA, any such change or adjustment will be reflected in the calculation of the Underlying Index performance on a going-forward basis after the effective date of such change or adjustment. Therefore, the Underlying Index performance shown for periods prior to the effective date of any such change or adjustment will generally not be recalculated or restated to reflect such change or adjustment.
“Tracking error” is the divergence of the Fund's performance from that of the Underlying Index. BFA expects that, over time, the Fund’s tracking error will not exceed 5%. Because the Fund uses a representative sampling indexing strategy, it can be expected to have a larger tracking error than if it used a replication indexing strategy. “Replication” is an indexing strategy in which a fund invests in substantially all of the
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securities in its underlying index in approximately the same proportions as in the underlying index.
Under continuous listing standards adopted by the Fund's listing exchange, the Fund is required to confirm on an ongoing basis that the components of the Underlying Index satisfy the applicable listing requirements. In the event that the Underlying Index does not comply with the applicable listing requirements, the Fund is required to rectify such non-compliance by requesting that the Index Provider modify the Underlying Index, adopting a new underlying index, or obtaining relief from the SEC. Failure to rectify such non-compliance may result in the Fund being delisted by the listing exchange.
An investment in the Fund is not a bank deposit and it is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency, BFA or any of its affiliates.
The Fund's investment objective and the Underlying Index may be changed without shareholder approval.
A Further Discussion of Principal Risks
The Fund is subject to various risks, including the principal risks noted below, any of which may adversely affect the Fund’s NAV, trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. You could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund could underperform other investments. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Asian Economic Risk. Many Asian economies have experienced rapid growth and industrialization in recent years, but there is no assurance that this growth rate will be maintained. Other Asian economies, however, have experienced high inflation, high unemployment, currency devaluations and restrictions, and over-extension of credit. Geopolitical hostility, political instability, and economic or environmental events in any one Asian country may have a significant economic effect on the entire Asian region, as well as on major trading partners outside Asia. Any adverse event in the Asian markets may have a significant adverse effect on some or all of the economies of the countries in which the Fund invests. Many Asian countries are subject to political risk, including political instability, corruption and regional conflict with neighboring countries. North Korea and South Korea each have substantial military capabilities, and historical tensions between the two countries present the risk of war. Escalated tensions involving the two countries and any outbreak of hostilities between the two countries, or even the threat of an outbreak of hostilities, could have a severe adverse effect on the entire Asian region. Certain Asian countries have 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.
Australasian Economic Risk. The economies of Australasia, which include Australia and New Zealand, are dependent on exports from the energy, agricultural and mining sectors. This makes Australasian economies susceptible to fluctuations in the commodity markets. Australasian economies are also increasingly dependent on their growing service industries. Because the economies of Australasia are dependent on the economies of Asia, Europe and the U.S. as key trading partners and investors, reduction in spending by any of these trading partners on Australasian products and services, or negative changes in any of these economies, may cause an adverse impact on some or all of the Australasian economies. The Australia–U.S. Free Trade Agreement has significantly expanded the trading relationship between the U.S. and Australia. Economic events in the U.S., Asia, or in other key trading countries can have a significant economic effect on the Australian economy.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund, and none of those Authorized Participants is obligated to engage in creation and/or redemption transactions. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as Authorized Participants on an agency basis (i.e., on behalf of other market participants). To the extent that Authorized Participants exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units, Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium or discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts or delisting. Authorized Participant concentration risk may be heightened because ETFs, such as the Fund, that invest in securities issued by non-U.S. issuers or other securities or instruments that are less widely traded often involve greater settlement and operational issues and capital costs for Authorized Participants, which may limit the availability of Authorized Participants.
Calculation Methodology Risk. The Underlying Index relies on various sources of information to assess the criteria of issuers included in the Underlying Index, including information that may be based on assumptions and estimates. Neither the Fund nor BFA can offer assurances that the Underlying Index’s calculation methodology or sources of information will provide an accurate assessment of included issuers.
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. The Fund may be more adversely affected by the underperformance of those securities, may experience increased price volatility and may be more susceptible to adverse economic, market,
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political or regulatory occurrences affecting those securities than a fund that does not concentrate its investments.
Consumer Services Industry Risk. The success of firms in the consumer services industry and certain retailers (including food and beverage, 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.
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's NAV is determined on the basis of the U.S. dollar, investors may lose money if the currency of a non-U.S. market in which the Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of such currency, even if such currency value of the Fund's holdings in that market increases. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the Fund’s NAV may change quickly and without warning.
Cybersecurity Risk. With the increased use of technologies such as the internet to conduct business, the Fund, Authorized Participants, service providers and the relevant listing exchange are susceptible to operational, information security and related “cyber” risks both directly and through their service providers. Similar types of cybersecurity risks are also present for issuers of securities in which the Fund invests, which could result in material adverse consequences for such issuers and may cause the Fund’s investment in such portfolio companies to lose value. Unlike many other types of risks faced by the Fund, these risks typically are not covered by insurance. In general, cyber incidents can result from deliberate attacks or unintentional events. Cyber incidents include, but are not limited to, gaining unauthorized access to digital systems (e.g., through “hacking” or malicious software coding) for purposes of misappropriating assets or sensitive information, corrupting data, or causing operational disruption. Cyberattacks may also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as causing denial-of-service attacks on websites (i.e., efforts to make network services unavailable to intended users). Recently, geopolitical tensions may have increased the scale and sophistication of deliberate attacks, particularly those from nation-states or from entities with nation-state backing.
Cybersecurity failures by or breaches of the systems of the Fund’s adviser, distributor and other service providers (including, but not limited to, index and benchmark providers, fund accountants, custodians, transfer agents and administrators), market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests, have the ability to cause disruptions and impact business operations, potentially resulting in: financial losses, interference with the Fund’s ability to calculate its NAV, disclosure of confidential trading information, impediments to trading, submission of erroneous trades or erroneous creation or redemption orders, the inability of the Fund
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or its service providers to transact business, violations of applicable privacy and other laws, regulatory fines, penalties, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensation costs, or additional compliance costs. In addition, cyberattacks may render records of Fund assets and transactions, shareholder ownership of Fund shares, and other data integral to the functioning of the Fund inaccessible or inaccurate or incomplete. Substantial costs may be incurred by the Fund in order to resolve or prevent cyber incidents in the future. While the Fund has established business continuity plans in the event of, and risk management systems to prevent, such cyberattacks, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems, including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified and that prevention and remediation efforts will not be successful or that cyberattacks will go undetected. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cybersecurity plans and systems put in place by service providers to the Fund, issuers in which the Fund invests, the Index Provider, market makers or Authorized Participants. The Fund and its shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result.
Dividend-Paying Stock Risk. The Fund's strategy of investing in dividend-paying stocks involves the risk that such stocks may fall out of favor with investors and underperform the broader market. Also, there is no guarantee that issuers of the stocks held by the Fund will declare dividends in the future or that, if declared, such dividends will remain at current levels or increase over time. Depending upon market conditions, dividend-paying stocks that meet the Fund’s investment criteria may not be widely available and/or may be highly concentrated in only a few market sectors.
Equity Securities Risk. The Fund invests in equity securities, which are subject to changes in value that may be attributable to market perception of a particular issuer or to general stock market fluctuations that affect all issuers. Investments in equity securities may be more volatile than investments in other asset classes. The Underlying Index is comprised of common stocks, which generally subject their holders to more risks than preferred stocks and debt securities because common stockholders' claims are subordinated to those of holders of preferred stocks and debt securities upon the bankruptcy of the issuer.
Financials Sector Risk. 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 U.S. and global financials sector. The impact of changes in capital requirements, or recent or future regulation in various countries, on any individual financial company or on the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. Certain risks may impact the value of investments in the
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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.
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.
Index-Related Risk. The Fund seeks to achieve a return that corresponds generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Underlying Index as published by the Index Provider. There is no assurance that the Index Provider or any agents that may act on its behalf will compile the Underlying Index accurately, or that the Underlying Index will be determined, composed or calculated accurately. While the Index Provider provides descriptions of what the Underlying Index is designed to achieve, neither the Index Provider nor its agents provide any warranty or accept any liability in relation to the quality, accuracy or completeness of the Underlying Index or its related data, and they do not guarantee that the Underlying Index will be in line with the Index Provider’s methodology. BFA’s mandate as described in this Prospectus is to manage the Fund consistently with the Underlying Index provided by the Index Provider to BFA. BFA does not provide any warranty or guarantee against the Index Provider’s or any agent’s errors. Errors in respect of the quality, accuracy and completeness of the data used to compile the Underlying Index may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, particularly where the indices are less commonly used as benchmarks by funds or managers. Such errors may negatively or positively impact the Fund and its shareholders. For example, during a period where the Underlying Index contains incorrect constituents, the Fund would have market exposure to such constituents and would be underexposed to the Underlying Index’s other constituents. Shareholders should understand that any gains from Index Provider errors will be kept by the Fund and its shareholders and any losses or costs resulting from Index Provider errors will be borne by the Fund and its shareholders.
Apart from scheduled rebalances, the Index Provider or its agents may carry out additional ad hoc rebalances to the Underlying Index in order, for example, to correct an error in the selection of index constituents. When the Underlying Index is rebalanced and the Fund in turn rebalances its portfolio to attempt to increase the
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correlation between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index, any transaction costs and market exposure arising from such portfolio rebalancing will be borne directly by the Fund and its shareholders. Therefore, errors and additional ad hoc rebalances carried out by the Index Provider or its agents to the Underlying Index may increase the costs to and the tracking error risk of the Fund.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities to which the Fund has exposure. Any issuer of these securities may perform poorly, causing the value of its securities to decline. Poor performance may be caused by poor management decisions, competitive pressures, changes in technology, expiration of patent protection, disruptions in supply, labor problems or shortages, corporate restructurings, fraudulent disclosures, credit deterioration of the issuer or other factors. Issuers may, in times of distress or at their own discretion, decide to reduce or eliminate dividends, which may also cause their stock prices to decline. There is no guarantee that an issuer that paid dividends in the past will continue to do so in the future or will continue paying dividends at the same level. An issuer may also be subject to risks associated with the countries, states and regions in which the issuer resides, invests, sells products, or otherwise conducts operations.
Large-Capitalization Companies Risk. Large-capitalization companies may be less able than smaller capitalization companies to adapt to changing market conditions. Large-capitalization companies may be more mature and subject to more limited growth potential compared with smaller capitalization companies. During different market cycles, the performance of large-capitalization companies has trailed the overall performance of the broader securities markets.
Management Risk. Because BFA uses a representative sampling indexing strategy, the Fund will not fully replicate the Underlying Index and may hold securities not included in the Underlying Index. As a result, the Fund is subject to the risk that BFA’s investment strategy, the implementation of which is subject to a number of constraints, may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns. The value of a security or other asset may decline due to changes in general market conditions, economic trends or events that are not specifically related to the issuer of the security or other asset, or factors that affect a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class. During a general market downturn, multiple asset classes may be negatively affected. Changes in market conditions and interest rates generally do not have the same impact on all types of securities and instruments.
Market Trading Risk
Absence of Active Market. Although shares of the Fund are listed for trading on one or more stock exchanges, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained by market makers or Authorized Participants.
Risk of Secondary Listings. The Fund's shares may be listed or traded on U.S. and non-U.S. stock exchanges other than the U.S. stock exchange where the Fund's primary
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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 the market value of the Fund’s holdings. The trading price of the Fund's shares fluctuates continuously throughout trading hours based on both market supply of and demand for Fund shares and the underlying value of the Fund's portfolio holdings or NAV. As a result, the trading prices of the Fund’s shares may deviate significantly from NAV during periods of market volatility. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV. However, because shares can be created and redeemed in Creation Units at NAV, BFA believes that large discounts or premiums to the NAV of the Fund are not likely to be sustained over the long term (unlike shares of many closed-end funds, which frequently trade at appreciable discounts from, and sometimes at premiums to, their NAVs). While the creation/redemption feature is designed to make it more likely that the Fund’s shares normally will trade on stock exchanges at prices close to the Fund’s next calculated NAV, exchange prices are not expected to correlate exactly with the Fund's NAV due to timing reasons, supply and demand imbalances and other factors. In addition, disruptions to creations and redemptions, including disruptions at market makers, Authorized Participants, or other market participants, and during periods of significant market volatility, may result in trading prices for shares of the Fund that differ significantly from its NAV. Authorized Participants may be less willing
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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.
Mid-Capitalization Companies Risk. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies may be more volatile than those of large-capitalization companies and, therefore, the Fund’s share price may be more volatile than those of funds that invest a larger percentage of their assets in stocks issued by large-capitalization companies. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies are also more vulnerable than those of large-capitalization companies to adverse business or economic developments, and the stocks of mid-capitalization companies may be less liquid than those of large-capitalization companies, making it difficult for the Fund to buy and sell shares of mid-capitalization companies. In addition, mid-capitalization companies generally have less diverse product lines than large-capitalization companies and are more susceptible to adverse developments related to their products.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund trade on foreign exchanges or in foreign markets that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks of investing in the markets where such issuers are located, including heightened risks of inflation, nationalization and market fluctuations caused by economic and political developments. As a result of investing in non-U.S. securities, the Fund may be subject to increased risk of loss caused by any of the factors listed below:
A lack of market liquidity and market efficiency;
Greater securities price volatility;
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Exchange rate fluctuations and exchange controls;
Less availability of public information about issuers;
Limitations on foreign ownership of securities;
Imposition of withholding or other taxes;
Imposition of restrictions on the expatriation of the funds or other assets of the Fund;
Higher transaction and custody costs and delays in settlement procedures;
Difficulties in enforcing contractual obligations;
Lower levels of regulation of the securities markets;
Weaker accounting, disclosure and reporting requirements; and
Legal principles relating to corporate governance, directors’ fiduciary duties and liabilities and stockholders’ rights in markets in which the Fund invests may differ from and/or may not be as extensive or protective as those that apply in the U.S.
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.
Reliance on Trading Partners Risk. The economies of some countries or regions in which the Fund invests are dependent on trading with certain key trading partners. Reduction in spending on the products and services of these countries or regions, institution of tariffs or other trade barriers by any of their key trading partners or a slowdown in the economies of any of their key trading partners may cause an adverse impact on the economies of such countries or regions.
Risk of Investing in Australia. Investment in Australian issuers may subject the Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, and economic risk specific to Australia. The Australian economy is heavily dependent on exports from the energy, agricultural and mining sectors. As a result, the Australian economy is susceptible to fluctuations in the commodity markets. The Australian economy is also becoming increasingly dependent on its growing services industry. The Australian economy is dependent on trading with key trading partners, including the U.S., China, Japan, Singapore and certain European countries. Reduction in spending on Australian products and services, or changes in any of the economies may cause an adverse impact on the Australian economy.
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries. Investment in developed country issuers may subject the Fund to regulatory, political, currency, security, economic and other
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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 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 Hong Kong. The Fund’s investment in Hong Kong issuers may subject the Fund to legal, regulatory, political, currency, security, and economic risk specific to Hong Kong. China is Hong Kong’s largest trading partner, both in terms of exports and imports. Any changes in the Chinese economy, trade regulations or currency exchange rates may have an adverse impact on Hong Kong’s economy.
Political and Social Risk. Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997 as a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China under the principle of “one country, two systems.” Although China is obligated, under the Sino-British Joint Declaration it signed in 1984, to maintain the current capitalist economic and social system of Hong Kong through June 30, 2047, the continuation of economic and social freedoms enjoyed in Hong Kong is dependent on the government of China. Any attempt by China to tighten its control over Hong Kong's political, economic or social policies may result in an adverse effect on Hong Kong's economy.
Economic Risk. The economy of Hong Kong is closely tied to the economy of China. The Chinese economy has grown rapidly during the past several years and there is no assurance that this growth rate will be maintained. China may experience substantial rates of inflation or economic recessions, causing a negative effect on the economy and securities market. Delays in enterprise restructuring, slow development of well-functioning financial markets and widespread corruption have also hindered performance of the Chinese economy, and China continues to receive substantial pressure from trading partners to liberalize official currency exchange rates.
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
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collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (“BTC”), the Fund's securities lending agent, will take into account the tax impact to shareholders of substitute payments for dividends when managing the Fund's securities lending program.
Small Fund Risk. When the Fund’s size is small, the Fund may experience low trading volume and wide bid/ask spreads. In addition, the Fund may face the risk of being delisted if the Fund does not meet certain conditions of the listing exchange. If the Fund were to be required to delist from the listing exchange, the value of the Fund may rapidly decline and performance may be negatively impacted. Any resulting liquidation of the Fund could cause the Fund to incur elevated transaction costs for the Fund and negative tax consequences for its shareholders.
Tracking Error Risk. The Fund may be subject to tracking error, which is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities and other instruments held in the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences (including, as applicable, differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the Fund's valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the Fund's NAV), transaction costs incurred by the Fund, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or interest, the requirements to maintain pass-through tax treatment, portfolio transactions carried out to minimize the distribution of capital gains to shareholders, changes to the Underlying Index or the costs to the Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. This risk may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions. Tracking error also may result because the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not.
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. 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
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used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund's performance and the performance of the Underlying Index. Authorized Participants who purchase or redeem Fund shares on days when the Fund is holding fair-valued securities may receive fewer or more shares, or lower or higher redemption proceeds, than they would have received had the Fund not fair-valued securities or used a different valuation methodology. The Fund’s ability to value investments may be impacted by technological issues or errors by pricing services or other third-party service providers.
A Further Discussion of Other Risks
The Fund may also be subject to certain other risks associated with its investments and investment strategies. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Basic Materials Industry Risk. Issuers in the basic materials industry may be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, exchange rate fluctuations, 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 global prudential regulators that are now in effect require counterparties that are part of U.S. or foreign global systemically important banking organizations to include contractual restrictions on close-out and cross-default in agreements relating to qualified financial contracts. Qualified financial contracts include agreements relating to swaps, currency forwards and other derivatives as well as repurchase agreements and securities lending agreements. The restrictions prevent the Fund from closing out a qualified financial contract during a specified time period if the counterparty is subject to resolution proceedings and prohibit the Fund from exercising default rights due to a receivership or similar proceeding of an affiliate of the counterparty. These requirements may increase credit risk and other risks to the Fund.
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.
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
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things, the reduced number and capacity of traditional market participants to make a market in securities or instruments or the lack of an active market for such securities or instruments. To the extent that the Fund invests in securities or instruments with substantial market and/or credit risk, the Fund will tend to have increased exposure to the risks associated with illiquid investments. Liquid investments may become illiquid after purchase by the Fund, particularly during periods of market turmoil. There can be no assurance that a security or instrument that is deemed to be liquid when purchased will continue to be liquid for as long as it is held by the Fund, and any security or instrument held by the Fund may be deemed an illiquid investment pursuant to the Fund’s liquidity risk management program. Illiquid investments may be harder to value, especially in changing markets. Although the Fund primarily seeks to redeem shares of the Fund on an in-kind basis, if the Fund is forced to sell underlying investments at reduced prices or under unfavorable conditions to meet redemption requests or for other cash needs, the Fund may suffer a loss. This may be magnified in a rising interest rate environment or other circumstances where redemptions from the Fund may be greater than normal. Other market participants may be attempting to liquidate holdings at the same time as the Fund, causing increased supply of the Fund’s underlying investments in the market and contributing to illiquid investments risk and downward pricing pressure. During periods of market volatility, liquidity in the market for the Fund’s shares may be impacted by the liquidity in the market for the underlying securities or instruments held by the Fund, which could lead to the Fund’s shares trading at a premium or discount to the Fund’s NAV.
Industrials Sector Risk. The value of securities issued by companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by supply and demand changes related to their specific products or services and industrials sector products in general. The products of manufacturing companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction. Global events, trade disputes and changes in government regulations, economic conditions and exchange rates may adversely affect the performance of companies in the industrials sector. Companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. The industrials sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors. Companies in the industrials sector, particularly aerospace and defense companies, may also be adversely affected by government spending policies because companies in this sector tend to rely to a significant extent on government demand for their products and services.
Small-Capitalization Companies Risk. Stock prices of small-capitalization companies may be more volatile than those of larger companies and, therefore, the Fund's share price may be more volatile than those of funds that invest a larger percentage of their assets in stocks issued by mid- or large-capitalization companies. Stock prices of small-capitalization companies are generally more vulnerable than those of mid- or large-capitalization companies to adverse business and economic developments. Securities of small-capitalization companies may be thinly traded, making it difficult for the Fund to buy and sell them. In addition, small-capitalization companies are typically less financially stable than larger, more established companies and may depend on a small number of essential personnel, making these companies
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more vulnerable to experiencing adverse effects due to the loss of personnel. Small-capitalization companies also normally have less diverse product lines than those of mid- or large-capitalization companies and are more susceptible to adverse developments concerning their products.
Telecommunications Sector Risk. The telecommunications sector is subject to extensive government regulation. The costs of complying with governmental regulations, delays or failure to receive required regulatory approvals, or the enactment of new regulatory requirements may negatively affect the business of telecommunications companies. Government actions around the world, specifically in the area of pre-marketing clearance of products and prices, can be arbitrary and unpredictable. Companies in the telecommunications sector may encounter distressed cash flows due to the need to commit substantial capital to meet increasing competition, particularly in developing new products and services using new technology. Technological innovations may make the products and services of certain telecommunications companies obsolete. Telecommunications providers are generally required to obtain franchises or licenses in order to provide services in a given location. Licensing and franchise rights in the telecommunications sector are limited, which may provide an advantage to certain participants. Limited availability of such rights, high barriers to market entry and regulatory oversight, among other factors, have led to consolidation of companies within the sector, which could lead to further regulation or other negative effects in the future.
Threshold/Underinvestment Risk. If certain aggregate and/or fund-level ownership thresholds are reached through transactions undertaken by BFA, its affiliates or the Fund, or as a result of third-party transactions or actions by an issuer or regulator, the ability of BFA and its affiliates on behalf of clients (including the Fund) to purchase or dispose of investments, or exercise rights or undertake business transactions, may be restricted by regulation or otherwise impaired. The capacity of the Fund to make investments in certain securities may be affected by the relevant threshold limits, and such limitations may have adverse effects on the liquidity and performance of the Fund’s portfolio holdings compared to the performance of the Underlying Index. This may increase the risk of the Fund being underinvested to the Underlying Index and increase the risk of tracking error.
For example, in certain circumstances where the Fund invests in securities issued by companies that operate in certain regulated industries or in certain emerging or international markets, or is subject to corporate or regulatory ownership restrictions, or invests in certain futures or other derivative transactions, there may be limits on the aggregate and/or fund-level amount invested or voted by BFA and its affiliates for their proprietary accounts and for client accounts (including the Fund) that may not be exceeded without the grant of a license or other regulatory or corporate consent or, if exceeded, may cause BFA and its affiliates, the Fund or other client accounts to suffer disadvantages or business restrictions.
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,
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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 . 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.
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 0.49%. 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
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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 June 30, 2019, BFA and its affiliates provided investment advisory services for assets in excess of $6.84 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 semi-annual report for the period ended October 31.
Portfolio Managers. Rachel Aguirre, Jennifer Hsui, Alan Mason, Greg Savage and Amy Whitelaw are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager is responsible for various functions related to portfolio management, including, but not limited to, investing cash inflows, coordinating with members of his or her portfolio management team to focus on certain asset classes, implementing investment strategy, researching and reviewing investment strategy and overseeing members of his or her portfolio management team that have more limited responsibilities.
Rachel Aguirre has been with BlackRock since 2006, including her years with Barclays Global Investors (“BGI”), which merged with BlackRock in 2009. Ms. Aguirre has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 2006 and has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2018.
Jennifer Hsui has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a senior portfolio manager since 2007. Prior to that, Ms. Hsui was a portfolio manager from 2006 to 2007 for Barclays Global Fund Advisors (“BGFA”). Ms. Hsui has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2012.
Alan Mason has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 1991. Mr. Mason has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2016.
Greg Savage has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a senior portfolio manager since 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Savage was a portfolio manager from 2001 to 2006 for BGFA. Mr. Savage has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2012.
Amy Whitelaw has been with BlackRock since 1999, including her years with BGI, which merged with BlackRock in 2009. Ms. Whitelaw has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 2009 and has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2018.
The Fund's SAI provides additional information about the Portfolio Managers' compensation, other accounts managed by the Portfolio Managers and the Portfolio Managers' ownership (if any) of shares in the Fund.
Administrator, Custodian and Transfer Agent. State Street Bank and Trust Company (“State Street”) is the administrator, custodian and transfer agent for the Fund.
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Conflicts of Interest. The investment activities of BFA and its affiliates (including BlackRock and its subsidiaries (collectively, the “Affiliates”)), The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (which, through a subsidiary, has a significant economic interest in BlackRock) and its subsidiaries (each with The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., an “Entity” and collectively, the “Entities”), and their respective directors, officers or employees, in the management of, or their interest in, their own accounts and other accounts they manage, may present conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA, its Affiliates and the Entities provide investment management services to other funds and discretionary managed accounts that may follow investment programs similar to that of the Fund. BFA, its Affiliates and the Entities are involved worldwide with a broad spectrum of financial services and asset management activities and may engage in the ordinary course of business in activities in which their interests or the interests of their clients may conflict with those of the Fund. BFA or one or more Affiliates or Entities act, or may act, as an investor, investment banker, research provider, investment manager, commodity pool operator, commodity trading advisor, financier, underwriter, adviser, market maker, trader, prime broker, lender, index provider, agent and/or principal, and have other direct and indirect interests in securities, currencies, commodities, derivatives and other instruments in which the Fund may directly or indirectly invest. Thus, it is likely that the Fund will have multiple business relationships with and will invest in, engage in transactions with, make voting decisions with respect to, or obtain services from, entities for which an Affiliate or an Entity performs or seeks to perform investment banking or other services. Specifically, the Fund may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies with which an Affiliate or an Entity has developed or is trying to develop investment banking relationships or in which an Affiliate or an Entity has significant debt or equity investments or other interests. The Fund may also invest in issuances (such as structured notes) by entities for which an Affiliate or an Entity provides and is compensated for cash management services relating to the proceeds from the sale of such issuances. The Fund also may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies for which an Affiliate or an Entity provides or may in the future provide research coverage. An Affiliate or an Entity may have business relationships with, and purchase or distribute or sell services 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 BTC, an Affiliate of BFA, to serve as the securities lending agent for the Fund to the extent that the Fund participates in the securities lending program. For these services, the securities lending agent will receive a fee from the Fund, including a fee based on the returns earned on the Fund’s investment of the cash received as collateral for the loaned securities. In addition, one or more Affiliates or Entities may be among the entities to which the Fund may lend its portfolio securities under the securities lending program.
The activities of BFA, its Affiliates and Entities and their respective directors, officers or employees, may give rise to other conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA has adopted policies and procedures designed to address these potential conflicts of interest. See the SAI for further information.
Shareholder Information
Additional shareholder information, including how to buy and sell shares of the Fund, is available free of charge by calling toll-free: 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or visiting our website at www.iShares.com.
Buying and Selling Shares. Shares of the Fund may be acquired or redeemed directly from the Fund only in Creation Units or multiples thereof, as discussed in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus. Only an Authorized Participant (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 “DVYA.”
Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange or other secondary market involves two types of costs that may apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you may incur a brokerage commission and other charges. The commission is frequently a fixed amount and may be a significant proportional cost for investors seeking to buy or sell small amounts of shares. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread,” that is, any difference between the bid price and the ask price. The spread varies over time for shares of the Fund based on the Fund’s trading volume and market liquidity, and is generally lower if the Fund has high trading volume and market liquidity, and higher if the Fund has little trading volume and market liquidity (which is often the case for funds that are newly launched or small in size). The Fund's spread may also be impacted by the liquidity or illiquidity of the underlying securities held by the Fund, particularly for newly launched or smaller funds or in instances of significant volatility of the underlying securities.
The Board has adopted a policy of not monitoring for frequent purchases and redemptions of Fund shares (“frequent trading”) that appear to attempt to take advantage of a potential arbitrage opportunity presented by a lag between a change in the value of the Fund’s portfolio securities after the close of the primary markets for the Fund’s portfolio securities and the reflection of that change in the Fund’s NAV (“market timing”), because the Fund sells and redeems its shares directly through transactions that are in-kind and/or for cash, subject to the conditions described below under Creations and Redemptions. The Board has not adopted a policy of monitoring for other frequent trading activity because shares of the Fund are listed for trading on a national securities exchange.
The national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed is open for trading Monday through Friday and is closed on weekends and the following holidays (or the days on which they are observed): New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The Fund’s primary listing exchange is NYSE Arca.
Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act restricts investments by investment companies, including foreign investment companies, in the securities of other investment companies. Registered investment companies are permitted to invest in the Fund beyond the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1), subject to certain terms and conditions set forth in SEC rules or in an SEC exemptive order issued to the 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. Foreign investment companies are permitted to invest in the Fund only up to the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1), subject to any applicable SEC no-action relief.
Book Entry. Shares of the Fund are held in book-entry form, which means that no stock certificates are issued. The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) or its nominee is the record owner of, and holds legal title to, all outstanding shares of the Fund.
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Investors owning shares of the Fund are beneficial owners as shown on the records of DTC or its participants. DTC serves as the securities depository for shares of the Fund. DTC participants include securities brokers and dealers, banks, trust companies, clearing corporations and other institutions that directly or indirectly maintain a custodial relationship with DTC. As a beneficial owner of shares, you are not entitled to receive physical delivery of stock certificates or to have shares registered in your name, and you are not considered a registered owner of shares. Therefore, to exercise any right as an owner of shares, you must rely upon the procedures of DTC and its participants. These procedures are the same as those that apply to any other securities that you hold in book-entry or “street name” form.
Share Prices. The trading prices of the Fund’s shares in the secondary market generally differ from the Fund’s daily NAV and are affected by market forces such as the supply of and demand for ETF shares and shares of underlying securities held by the Fund, economic conditions and other factors. Information regarding the intraday value of shares of the Fund, also known as the “indicative optimized portfolio value” (“IOPV”), is disseminated every 15 seconds throughout each trading day by the national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed or by market data vendors or other information providers. The IOPV is based on the current market value of the securities or other assets and/or cash required to be deposited in exchange for a Creation Unit. The IOPV does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities or other assets held by the Fund at a particular point in time or the best possible valuation of the current portfolio. Therefore, the IOPV should not be viewed as a “real-time” update of the Fund's NAV, which is computed only once a day. The IOPV is generally determined by using both current market quotations and price quotations obtained from broker-dealers and other market intermediaries that may trade in the portfolio securities or other assets held by the Fund. The quotations of certain Fund holdings may not be updated during U.S. trading hours if such holdings do not trade in the U.S. The Fund is not involved in, or responsible for, the calculation or dissemination of the IOPV and makes no representation or warranty as to its accuracy.
Determination of Net Asset Value. The NAV of the Fund normally is determined once daily Monday through Friday, generally as of the regularly scheduled close of business of the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) (normally 4:00 p.m., Eastern time) on each day that the NYSE is open for trading, based on prices at the time of closing, provided that (i) any Fund assets or liabilities denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar are translated into U.S. dollars at the prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers (as detailed below) and (ii) U.S. fixed-income assets may be valued as of the announced closing time for trading in fixed-income instruments in a particular market or exchange. The NAV of the Fund is calculated by dividing the value of the net assets of the Fund (i.e., the value of its total assets less total liabilities) by the total number of outstanding shares of the Fund, generally rounded to the nearest cent.
The value of the securities and other assets and liabilities held by the Fund are determined pursuant to valuation policies and procedures approved by the Board.
Equity investments and other instruments for which market quotations are readily available, as well as investments in an underlying fund, if any, are valued at market
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value, which is generally determined using the last reported official closing price or, if a reported closing price is not available, the last traded price on the exchange or market on which the security is primarily traded at the time of valuation.
The Fund invests in non-U.S. securities. Foreign currency exchange rates with respect to the portfolio securities denominated in non-U.S. currencies are generally determined as of 4:00 p.m., London time. Non-U.S. securities held by the Fund may trade on weekends or other days when the Fund does not price its shares. As a result, 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 trading or other reasons, if a market quotation differs significantly from recent price quotations or otherwise no longer appears to reflect fair value, where the security or other asset or liability is thinly traded, when there is a significant event subsequent to the most recent market quotation, or if the trading market on which a security is listed is suspended or closed and no appropriate alternative trading market is available. A “significant event” is deemed to occur if BFA determines, in its reasonable business judgment prior to or at the time of pricing the Fund’s assets or liabilities, that the event is likely to cause a material change to the closing market price of one or more assets or liabilities held by the Fund. Non-U.S. securities whose values are affected by volatility that occurs in the local markets or in related or highly correlated assets (e.g., American Depositary Receipts, Global Depositary Receipts or substantially identical ETFs) on a trading day after the close of non-U.S. securities markets may be fair valued.
Fair value represents a good faith approximation of the value of an asset or liability. The fair value of an asset or liability held by the Fund is the amount the Fund might reasonably expect to receive from the current sale of that asset or the cost to extinguish that liability in an arm’s-length transaction. Valuing the Fund’s investments using fair value pricing will result in prices that may differ from current market valuations and that may not be the prices at which those investments could have been sold during the period in which the particular fair values were used. Use of fair value prices and certain current market valuations could result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the Fund’s NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund’s performance and the performance of the Underlying Index.
The value of assets or liabilities denominated in non-U.S. currencies will be converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by
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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 (“RIC”) or to avoid imposition of income or excise taxes on undistributed income or realized gains.
Dividends and other distributions on shares of the Fund are distributed on a pro rata basis to beneficial owners of such shares. Dividend payments are made through DTC participants and indirect participants to beneficial owners then of record with proceeds received from the Fund.
Dividend Reinvestment Service. No dividend reinvestment service is provided by the 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. You should consult your own tax professional about the tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund.
Unless your investment in Fund shares is made through a tax-exempt entity or tax-deferred retirement account, such as an IRA, in which case your distributions generally will be taxable when withdrawn, you need to be aware of the possible tax consequences when the Fund makes distributions or you sell Fund shares.
Taxes on Distributions. Distributions from the Fund’s net investment income (other than qualified dividend income), including distributions of income from securities lending and distributions out of the Fund’s net short-term capital gains, if any, are taxable to you as ordinary income. Distributions by the Fund of net long-term capital gains, if any, in excess of net short-term capital losses (capital gain dividends) are taxable to you as long-term capital gains, regardless of how long you have held the Fund’s shares. Distributions by the Fund that qualify as qualified dividend income are taxable to you at long-term capital gain rates. Long-term capital gains and qualified dividend income are generally eligible for taxation at a maximum rate of 15% or 20% for non-corporate shareholders, depending on whether their income exceeds certain threshold amounts. In addition, a 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax is imposed on “net investment income,” including, but not limited to, interest, dividends,
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and net gain, of U.S. individuals with income exceeding $200,000 (or $250,000 if married and filing jointly) and of estates and trusts.
Dividends will be qualified dividend income to you if they are attributable to qualified dividend income received by the Fund. Generally, qualified dividend income includes dividend income from taxable U.S. corporations and qualified non-U.S. corporations, provided that the Fund satisfies certain holding period requirements in respect of the stock of such corporations and has not hedged its position in the stock in certain ways. Substitute dividends received by the Fund with respect to dividends paid on securities lent out will not be qualified dividend income. For this purpose, a qualified non-U.S. corporation means any non-U.S. corporation that is eligible for benefits under a comprehensive income tax treaty with the U.S., which includes an exchange of information program, or if the stock with respect to which the dividend was paid is readily tradable on an established U.S. securities market. The term excludes a corporation that is a passive foreign investment company.
Dividends received by the Fund from a REIT or another RIC generally are qualified dividend income only to the extent such dividend distributions are made out of qualified dividend income received by such REIT or RIC. Additionally, it is expected that dividends received by the Fund from a REIT and distributed to a shareholder generally will be taxable to the shareholder as ordinary income. However, for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2026, the Fund may report dividends eligible for a 20% “qualified business income” deduction for non-corporate U.S. shareholders to the extent the Fund’s income is derived from ordinary REIT dividends, reduced by allocable Fund expenses.
For a dividend to be treated as qualified dividend income, the dividend must be received with respect to a share of stock held without being hedged by the Fund, and with respect to a share of the Fund held without being hedged by you, for 61 days during the 121-day period beginning at the date which is 60 days before the date on which such share becomes ex-dividend with respect to such dividend or, in the case of certain preferred stock, 91 days during the 181-day period beginning 90 days before such date.
In general, your distributions are subject to U.S. federal income tax for the year when they are paid. Certain distributions paid in January, however, may be treated as paid on December 31 of the prior year.
If the Fund’s distributions exceed current and accumulated earnings and profits, all or a portion of the distributions made in the taxable year may be recharacterized as a return of capital to shareholders. Distributions in excess of the Fund’s minimum distribution requirements, but not in excess of the Fund’s earnings and profits, will be taxable to shareholders and will not constitute nontaxable returns of capital. A return of capital distribution generally will not be taxable but will reduce the shareholder’s cost basis and result in a higher capital gain or lower capital loss when those shares on which the distribution was received are sold. Once a shareholder's cost basis is reduced to zero, further distributions will be treated as capital gain, if the shareholder holds shares of the Fund as capital assets.
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Dividends, interest and capital gains earned by the Fund with respect to securities issued by non-U.S. issuers may give rise to withholding, capital gains and other taxes imposed by non-U.S. countries. Tax conventions between certain countries and the U.S. may reduce or eliminate such taxes. If more than 50% of the total assets of the Fund at the close of a year consists of non-U.S. stocks or securities (generally, for this purpose, depositary receipts, no matter where traded, of non-U.S. companies are treated as “non-U.S.”), generally the Fund may “pass through” to you certain non-U.S. income taxes (including withholding taxes) paid by the Fund. This means that you would be considered to have received as an additional dividend your share of such non-U.S. taxes, but you may be entitled to either a corresponding tax deduction in calculating your taxable income, or, subject to certain limitations, a credit in calculating your U.S. federal income tax.
For purposes of foreign tax credits for U.S. shareholders of the Fund, foreign capital gains taxes may not produce associated foreign source income, limiting the availability of such credits for U.S. persons.
If you are neither a resident nor a citizen of the U.S. or if you are a non-U.S. 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. 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 your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending arrangement, you may lose the ability to treat Fund dividends paid while the shares are held by the borrower as qualified dividend income. In addition, you may lose the ability to use
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foreign tax credits passed through by the Fund if your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending agreement.
If you are a resident or a citizen of the U.S., by law, backup withholding at a 24% rate will apply to your distributions and proceeds if you have not provided a taxpayer identification number or social security number and made other required certifications.
Taxes When Shares are Sold. Currently, any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares is generally treated as a long-term gain or loss if the shares have been held for more than one year. Any capital gain or loss realized upon a sale of Fund shares held for one year or less is generally treated as short-term gain or loss, except that any capital loss on the sale of shares held for six months or less is treated as long-term capital loss to the extent that capital gain dividends were paid with respect to such shares. Any such capital gains, including from sales of Fund shares or from capital gain dividends, are included in “net investment income” for purposes of the 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax mentioned above.
The foregoing discussion summarizes some of the consequences under current U.S. federal tax law of an investment in the Fund. It is not a substitute for personal tax advice. You may also be subject to state and local taxation on Fund distributions and sales of shares. Consult your personal tax advisor about the potential tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund under all applicable tax laws.
Creations and Redemptions. Prior to trading in the secondary market, shares of the Fund are “created” at NAV by market makers, large investors and institutions only in block-size Creation Units of 50,000 shares or multiples thereof. Each “creator” or authorized participant (an “Authorized Participant”) has entered into an agreement with the Fund's distributor, BlackRock Investments, LLC (the “Distributor”), an affiliate of BFA.
A creation transaction, which is subject to acceptance by the Distributor and the Fund, generally takes place when an Authorized Participant deposits into the Fund a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) and a specified amount of cash approximating the holdings of the Fund in exchange for a specified number of Creation Units. To the extent practicable, the composition of such portfolio generally corresponds pro rata to the holdings of the Fund. However, creation and redemption baskets may differ. The Fund may, in certain circumstances, offer Creation Units partially or solely for cash.
Similarly, shares can be redeemed only in Creation Units, generally for a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) held by the Fund and a specified amount of cash. Except when aggregated in Creation Units, shares are not redeemable by the Fund.
The prices at which creations and redemptions occur are based on the next calculation of NAV after a creation or redemption order is received in an acceptable form under the authorized participant agreement.
Only an Authorized Participant may create or redeem Creation Units with the Fund. Authorized Participants may create or redeem Creation Units for their own accounts or for customers, including, without limitation, affiliates of the Fund.
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In the event of a system failure or other interruption, including disruptions at market makers or Authorized Participants, orders to purchase or redeem Creation Units either may not be executed according to the Fund's instructions or may not be executed at all, or the Fund may not be able to place or change orders.
To the extent the Fund engages in in-kind transactions, the Fund intends to comply with the U.S. federal securities laws in accepting securities for deposit and satisfying redemptions with redemption securities by, among other means, assuring that any securities accepted for deposit and any securities used to satisfy redemption requests will be sold in transactions that would be exempt from registration under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”). Further, an Authorized Participant that is not a “qualified institutional buyer,” as such term is defined in Rule 144A under the 1933 Act, will not be able to receive restricted securities eligible for resale under Rule 144A.
Creations and redemptions must be made through a firm that is either a member of the Continuous Net Settlement System of the National Securities Clearing Corporation or a DTC participant that has executed an agreement with the Distributor with respect to creations and redemptions of Creation Unit aggregations. Information about the procedures regarding creation and redemption of Creation Units (including the cut-off times for receipt of creation and redemption orders) is included in the Fund's SAI.
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
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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 May 31, 2019, 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*
$2,164,000   50,000   $800   7.0%   2.0%

* As a percentage of the net asset value per Creation Unit, inclusive, in the case of redemptions, of the standard redemption transaction fee.
Householding. Householding is an option available to certain Fund investors. Householding is a method of delivery, based on the preference of the individual investor, in which a single copy of certain shareholder documents can be delivered to investors who share the same address, even if their accounts are registered under different names. Please contact your broker-dealer if you are interested in enrolling in householding and receiving a single copy of prospectuses and other shareholder documents, or if you are currently enrolled in householding and wish to change your householding status.
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Distribution
The Distributor or its agent distributes Creation Units for the Fund on an agency basis. The Distributor does not maintain a secondary market in shares of the Fund. The Distributor has no role in determining the policies of the Fund or the securities that are purchased or sold by the Fund. The Distributor’s principal address is 1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540.
BFA or its affiliates make payments to broker-dealers, registered investment advisers, banks or other intermediaries (together, “intermediaries”) related to marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems, data provision services, or their making shares of the Fund and certain other iShares funds available to their customers generally and in certain investment programs. Such payments, which may be significant to the intermediary, are not made by the Fund. Rather, such payments are made by BFA or its affiliates from their own resources, which come directly or indirectly in part from fees paid by the iShares funds complex. Payments of this type are sometimes referred to as revenue-sharing payments. A financial intermediary may make decisions about which investment options it recommends or makes available, or the level of services provided, to its customers based on the payments or other financial incentives it is eligible to receive. Therefore, such payments or other financial incentives offered or made to an intermediary create conflicts of interest between the intermediary and its customers and may cause the intermediary to recommend the Fund or other iShares funds over another investment. More information regarding these payments is contained in the Fund's SAI. Please contact your salesperson or other investment professional for more information regarding any such payments his or her firm may receive from BFA or its affiliates.
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Financial Highlights
The financial highlights table is intended to help investors understand the Fund’s financial performance for the past five years. Certain information reflects financial results for a single share of the Fund. The total returns in the table represent the rate that an investor would have earned (or lost) on an investment in the Fund, assuming reinvestment of all dividends and distributions. This information has been audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, whose report is included, along with the Fund's financial statements, in the Fund's Annual Report (available upon request).
Financial Highlights
(For a share outstanding throughout each period)
  iShares Asia/Pacific Dividend ETF
  Year Ended
04/30/19
  Year Ended
04/30/18
  Year Ended
04/30/17
  Year Ended
04/30/16
  Year Ended
04/30/15
Net asset value, beginning of year $ 46.83   $ 48.14   $ 43.26   $ 50.11   $ 57.27
Net investment income(a) 2.49   2.30   2.46   2.13   2.38
Net realized and unrealized gain (loss)(b) (2.96)   (1.21)   4.38   (6.69)   (6.85)
Net increase (decrease) from investment operations (0.47)   1.09   6.84   (4.56)   (4.47)
Distributions (c)                  
From net investment income (2.60)   (2.40)   (1.96)   (2.23)   (2.69)
Return of capital       (0.06)  
Total distributions (2.60)   (2.40)   (1.96)   (2.29)   (2.69)
Net asset value, end of year $ 43.76   $ 46.83   $ 48.14   $ 43.26   $ 50.11
Total Return                  
Based on net asset value (0.83)%   2.19%   16.13%   (8.74)%   (8.04)%
Ratios to Average Net Assets                  
Total expenses 0.49%   0.49%   0.49%   0.49%   0.49%
Net investment income 5.65%   4.72%   5.38%   5.03%   4.47%
Supplemental Data                  
Net assets, end of year (000) $32,823   $39,803   $45,730   $56,243   $55,120
Portfolio turnover rate(d) 46%   21%   37%   32%   40%

(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
SPDJI is the Index Provider for the Underlying Index and is not affiliated with the Company, BFA, State Street, the Distributor or any of their respective affiliates.
SPDJI is a resource for index-based concepts, data and research. SPDJI provides financial, economic and investment information and analytical services to the financial community. SPDJI calculates and maintains the S&P Global 1200TM, which includes the S&P 500® for the U.S., the S&P Europe 350TM for Continental Europe, Ireland and the United Kingdom, the S&P/TOPIX 150TM for Japan, the S&P Asia 50TM, the S&P/TSX 60TM for Canada, the S&P/ASX 50TM and the S&P Latin America 40TM. SPDJI also publishes the S&P MidCap 400®, S&P SmallCap 600®, S&P Total Market IndexTM and S&P U.S. REITTM for the U.S. SPDJI calculates and maintains the S&P Global Broad Market Index (BMI) Series, a set of rules-based equity benchmarks covering developed and emerging countries around the world. Company additions to and deletions from an S&P equity index do not in any way reflect an opinion on the investment merits of the company.
BFA or its affiliates have entered into a license agreement with SPDJI to use the Underlying Index. BFA or its affiliates sublicense rights in the Underlying Index to the Company at no charge.
Disclaimers
The Underlying Index is a product of SPDJI, and has been licensed for use by BFA or its affiliates. Standard & Poor’s® and S&P® are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC, a division of S&P Global (“S&P”); Dow Jones® is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC (“Dow Jones”); iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BFA and its affiliates; and these trademarks have been licensed for use by SPDJI and sublicensed for certain purposes by the Trust. The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by SPDJI, Dow Jones, S&P, or any of their respective affiliates (collectively, “S&P Dow Jones Indices”). S&P Dow Jones Indices make 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 market performance. S&P Dow Jones Indices’ only relationship to the Company and BFA and their affiliates with respect to the Underlying Index is the licensing of the Underlying Index and certain trademarks, service marks and/or trade names of S&P Dow Jones Indices and/or its third party licensors. The Underlying Index is determined, composed and calculated by S&P Dow Jones Indices without regard to the Company, BFA or its affiliates or the Fund. S&P Dow Jones Indices have 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. S&P Dow Jones Indices are not responsible for and have 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,
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surrendered or redeemed, as the case may be. S&P Dow Jones Indices have no obligation or liability in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of shares of the Fund. There is no assurance that investment products based on the Underlying Index will accurately track index performance or provide positive investment returns. SPDJI is not an investment adviser. Inclusion of a security within an index is not a recommendation by S&P Dow Jones Indices to buy, sell, or hold such security, nor is it considered to be investment advice.
S&P DOW JONES INDICES DO NOT GUARANTEE THE ADEQUACY, ACCURACY, TIMELINESS AND/OR THE COMPLETENESS OF THE UNDERLYING INDEX OR ANY DATA RELATED THERETO OR ANY COMMUNICATION, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ORAL OR WRITTEN COMMUNICATION (INCLUDING ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS) WITH RESPECT THERETO. S&P DOW JONES INDICES SHALL NOT BE SUBJECT TO ANY DAMAGES OR LIABILITY FOR ANY ERRORS, OMISSIONS, OR DELAYS THEREIN. S&P DOW JONES INDICES MAKE NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, AND EXPRESSLY DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE OR 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 WITH RESPECT TO ANY DATA RELATED THERETO. WITHOUT LIMITING ANY OF THE FOREGOING, IN NO EVENT WHATSOEVER SHALL S&P DOW JONES INDICES BE LIABLE FOR ANY INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LOSS OF PROFITS, TRADING LOSSES, LOST TIME OR GOODWILL, EVEN IF THEY HAVE BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR OTHERWISE. THERE ARE NO THIRD PARTY BENEFICIARIES OF ANY AGREEMENTS OR ARRANGEMENTS BETWEEN S&P DOW JONES INDICES AND BFA OR ITS AFFILIATES, OTHER THAN THE LICENSORS OF S&P DOW JONES INDICES.
Shares of the Fund are not sponsored, endorsed or promoted by NYSE Arca. NYSE Arca makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the ability of the Fund to track the total return performance of the Underlying Index or the ability of the Underlying Index to track stock market performance. NYSE Arca is not responsible for, nor has it participated in, the determination of the compilation or the calculation of the Underlying Index, nor in the determination of the timing of, prices of, or quantities of shares of the Fund to be issued, nor in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the shares are redeemable. NYSE Arca has no obligation or liability to owners of shares of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of shares of the Fund.
NYSE Arca does not guarantee the accuracy and/or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. NYSE Arca makes no warranty, express or implied, as to results to be obtained by the Company on behalf of
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the Fund as licensee, licensee’s customers and counterparties, owners of shares of the Fund, or any other person or entity from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein in connection with the rights licensed as described herein or for any other use. NYSE Arca makes no express or implied warranties and hereby expressly disclaims all warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose with respect to the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall NYSE Arca have any liability for any direct, indirect, special, punitive, consequential or any other damages (including lost profits) even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
The past performance of the Underlying Index is not a guide to future performance. BFA and its affiliates do not guarantee the accuracy or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein and BFA and its affiliates shall have no liability for any errors, omissions or interruptions therein. BFA and its affiliates make no warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or to any other person or entity, as to results to be obtained by the Fund from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall BFA or its affiliates have any liability for any special, punitive, direct, indirect, consequential or any other damages (including lost profits), even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
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Supplemental Information
I. Premium/Discount Information
The table that follows presents information about the differences between the daily market price on secondary markets for shares of the Fund and the Fund’s NAV. NAV is the price at which the Fund issues and redeems shares. It is calculated in accordance with the standard formula for valuing mutual fund shares. The price used to calculate market returns (“Market Price”) of the Fund generally is determined using the midpoint between the highest bid and the lowest ask on the primary securities exchange on which shares of the Fund are listed for trading, as of the time that the Fund’s NAV is calculated. The Fund’s Market Price may be at, above or below its NAV. The NAV of the Fund will fluctuate with changes in the value of its portfolio holdings. The Market Price of the Fund will fluctuate in accordance with changes in its NAV, as well as market supply and demand.
Premiums or discounts are the differences (expressed as a percentage) between the NAV and Market Price of the Fund on a given day, generally at the time the NAV is calculated. A premium is the amount that the Fund is trading above the reported NAV, expressed as a percentage of the NAV. A discount is the amount that the Fund is trading below the reported NAV, expressed as a percentage of the NAV.
The following information shows the frequency of distributions of premiums and discounts for the Fund for each full calendar quarter of 2018 and the first two calendar quarters of 2019.
Each line in the table shows the number of trading days in which the Fund traded within the premium/discount range indicated. Premium/discount ranges with no trading days are omitted. The number of trading days in each premium/discount range is also shown as a percentage of the total number of trading days in the period covered by the table. All data presented here represents past performance, which cannot be used to predict future results.
Premium/Discount Range   Number of Days   Percentage of Total Days
Greater than 1.5% and Less than 2.0%   1   0.27%
Greater than 1.0% and Less than 1.5%   6   1.60
Greater than 0.5% and Less than 1.0%   37   9.87
Greater than 0.0% and Less than 0.5%   129   34.40
At NAV   2   0.53
Less than 0.0% and Greater than -0.5%   138   36.80
Less than -0.5% and Greater than -1.0%   41   10.93
Less than -1.0% and Greater than -1.5%   14   3.73
Less than -1.5% and Greater than -2.0%   4   1.07
Less than -2.0% and Greater than -2.5%   2   0.53
Less than -2.5% and Greater than -3.0%   1   0.27
    375   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 April 30, 2019.
“Average Annual Total Returns” represents the average annual change in value of an investment over the periods indicated. “Cumulative Total Returns” represents the total change in value of an investment over the periods indicated.
The Fund’s NAV is the value of one share of the Fund as calculated in accordance with the standard formula for valuing mutual fund shares. The NAV return is based on the NAV of the Fund and the market return is based on the Market Price of the Fund. Market Price generally is determined by using the midpoint between the highest bid and the lowest ask on the primary stock exchange on which shares of the Fund are listed for trading, as of the time that the Fund's NAV is calculated. 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 April 30, 2019
  Average Annual Total Returns   Cumulative Total Returns
  1 Year 5 Years Since
Inception
  1 Year 5 Years Since
Inception
Fund NAV (0.83)% (0.24)% 2.94%   (0.83)% (1.22)% 23.17%
Fund Market 0.20 (0.27) 2.97   0.20 (1.34) 23.37
Index (0.58) (0.02) 3.23   (0.58) (0.10) 25.67
  
  The inception date of the Fund was 2/23/12. The first day of secondary market trading was 2/24/12.
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Want to know more?
iShares.com     |    1-800-474-2737
Copies of the Prospectus, SAI and recent shareholder reports can be found on our website at www.iShares.com. For more information about the Fund, you may request a copy of the SAI. The SAI provides detailed information about the Fund and is incorporated by reference into this Prospectus. This means that the SAI, for legal purposes, is a part of this Prospectus.
Additional information about the Fund's investments is available in the Fund's Annual and Semi-Annual Reports to shareholders. In the Fund's Annual Report, you will find a discussion of the market conditions and investment strategies that significantly affected the Fund's performance during the last fiscal year.
If you have any questions about the 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-DVYA-0819


August 30, 2019
   
    
2019 Prospectus
iShares, Inc.
•  iShares Emerging Markets Dividend ETF | DVYE |  NYSE ARCA
Beginning on January 1, 2021, as permitted by regulations adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), paper copies of the Fund’s shareholder reports will no longer be sent by mail, unless you specifically request paper copies of the reports from your financial intermediary, such as a broker-dealer or bank. Instead, the reports will be made available on a website, and you will be notified by mail each time a report is posted and provided with a website link to access the report.
If you already elected to receive shareholder reports electronically, you will not be affected by this change and you need not take any action. If you hold accounts through a financial intermediary, you may contact your financial intermediary to enroll in electronic delivery. Please note that not all financial intermediaries may offer this service.
You may elect to receive all future reports in paper free of charge. If you hold accounts through a financial intermediary, you can follow the instructions included with this disclosure, if applicable, or contact your financial intermediary to request that you continue to receive paper copies of your shareholder reports. Please note that not all financial intermediaries may offer this service. Your election to receive reports in paper will apply to all funds held with your financial intermediary.
The SEC has not approved or disapproved these securities or passed upon the adequacy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.

 



 


Table of Contents
The “Dow Jones Emerging Markets Select Dividend IndexTM” is a product of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC (“SPDJI”), and has been licensed for use by BlackRock Fund Advisors or its affiliates. Standard & Poor’s® and S&P® are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC (“S&P”); Dow Jones® is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC (“Dow Jones”); iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates, and these trademarks have been licensed for use by SPDJI and sublicensed for certain purposes by iShares, Inc. The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by SPDJI, Dow Jones, S&P or their respective affiliates, and none of such parties makes any representation regarding the advisability of investing in such product(s), nor do they have any liability for any errors, omissions, or interruptions of the Dow Jones Emerging Markets Select Dividend Index.
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iSHARES® EMERGING MARKETS
DIVIDEND ETF
Ticker: DVYE Stock Exchange: NYSE Arca
Investment Objective
The iShares Emerging Markets Dividend ETF (the “Fund”) seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of relatively high dividend paying equities in emerging markets.
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. The Fund may incur “Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses.” Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses reflect the Fund's pro rata share of the fees and expenses incurred by investing in other investment companies. The impact of Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses is included in the total returns of the Fund. Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses are not included in the calculation of the ratio of expenses to average net assets shown in the Financial Highlights section of the Fund's prospectus (the “Prospectus”). BFA, the investment adviser to the Fund, has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees in an amount equal to the aggregate Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any, attributable to investments by the Fund in other series of iShares Trust and the Company through August 31, 2022. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to August 31, 2022 only upon written agreement of the Company and BFA.
You may also incur usual and customary brokerage commissions and other charges when buying or selling shares of the Fund, which are not reflected in the Example that follows:
Annual Fund Operating Expenses
(ongoing expenses that you pay each year as a
percentage of the value of your investments)
Management
Fees
  Distribution and
Service (12b-1)
Fees
  Other
Expenses1
  Acquired Fund Fees
and Expenses1
  Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
  Fee Waiver1   Total Annual
Fund
Operating
Expenses
After
Fee Waiver
0.49%   None   0.00%   0.00%   0.49%   (0.00)%   0.49%

1 The amount rounded to 0.00%.
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Example. This Example is intended to help you compare the cost of owning shares of the Fund with the cost of investing in other funds. The Example assumes that you invest $10,000 in the Fund for the time periods indicated and then sell all of your shares at the end of those periods. The Example also assumes that your investment has a 5% return each year and that the Fund’s operating expenses remain the same. Although your actual costs may be higher or lower, based on these assumptions, your costs would be:
1 Year   3 Years   5 Years   10 Years
$50   $157   $274   $616
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 69% of the average value of its portfolio.
Principal Investment Strategies
The Fund seeks to track the investment results of the Dow Jones Emerging Markets Select Dividend Index (the “Underlying Index”), which measures the performance of 100 leading dividend-paying emerging-market companies, selected by dividend yield subject to screening and buffering criteria. Dividend yield is calculated using a stock’s unadjusted indicated annual dividend (not including any special dividends) divided by its unadjusted price. The starting universe for the Underlying Index is the S&P Emerging BMI, excluding real estate investment trusts (“REITs”) and
countries classified as frontier markets.
As of April 30, 2019, the Underlying Index consisted of issuers in the following countries: Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Greece, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. The Underlying Index may include large-, mid- or small-capitalization companies. As of April 30, 2019, a significant portion of the Underlying Index is represented by securities of companies in the basic materials and financials industries or sectors. The components of the Underlying Index are likely to change over time.
BFA uses a “passive” or indexing approach to try to achieve the Fund’s investment objective. Unlike many investment companies, the Fund does not try to “beat” the index it tracks and does not seek temporary defensive positions when markets decline or appear overvalued.
Indexing may eliminate the chance that the Fund will substantially outperform the Underlying Index but also may reduce some of the risks of active management, such as poor security selection. Indexing seeks to achieve lower costs and better after-tax performance by aiming to keep portfolio
 
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turnover low in comparison to actively managed investment companies.
BFA uses a representative sampling indexing strategy to manage the Fund. “Representative sampling” is an indexing strategy that involves investing in a representative sample of securities that collectively has an investment profile similar to that of an applicable underlying index. The securities selected are expected to have, in the aggregate, investment characteristics (based on factors such as market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of an applicable underlying index. The Fund may or may not hold all of the securities in the Underlying Index.
The Fund generally invests at least 90% of its assets in the component securities of the Underlying Index and in investments that have economic characteristics that are substantially identical to the component securities of the Underlying Index (i.e., depositary receipts representing securities of the Underlying Index) and may invest up to 10% of its assets in certain futures, options and swap contracts, cash and cash equivalents, including shares of money market funds advised by BFA or its affiliates, as well as in securities not included in the Underlying Index, but which BFA believes will help the Fund track the Underlying Index. 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 S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC (the “Index Provider” or “SPDJI”), which is independent of the Fund and BFA. The Index Provider determines the composition and relative weightings of the securities in the Underlying Index and publishes information regarding the market value of the Underlying Index.
Industry Concentration Policy. The Fund will concentrate its investments (i.e., hold 25% or more of its total assets) in a particular industry or group of industries to approximately the same extent that the Underlying Index is concentrated. For purposes of this limitation, securities of the U.S. government (including its agencies and instrumentalities) and repurchase agreements collateralized by U.S. government securities are not considered to be issued by members of any industry.
Summary of Principal Risks
As with any investment, you could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund's performance could trail that of other investments. The Fund is subject to certain risks, including the principal risks noted below, any of which may adversely affect the Fund's net asset value per share (“NAV”), trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Asset Class Risk. Securities and other assets in the Underlying Index or in the Fund's portfolio may underperform in comparison to the general financial markets, a particular financial market or other asset classes.
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Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant (as defined in the Shareholder Information section of the Prospectus) may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund, and none of those Authorized Participants is obligated to engage in creation and/or redemption transactions. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as Authorized Participants on an agency basis (i.e., on behalf of other market participants). To the extent that Authorized Participants exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units (as defined in the Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares section of the Prospectus), Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium or discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts or delisting. Authorized Participant concentration risk may be heightened for exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”), such as the Fund, that invest in securities issued by non-U.S. issuers or other securities or instruments that have lower trading volumes.
Basic Materials Industry Risk. Companies in the basic materials industry may be adversely impacted by changes in commodity prices or exchange rates, depletion of resources, over-production, litigation, and government regulations, among other factors.
Calculation Methodology Risk. The Underlying Index relies on various sources of information to assess the criteria of issuers included in the Underlying Index, including information that may be based on assumptions and estimates. Neither the Fund nor BFA
can offer assurances that the Underlying Index’s calculation methodology or sources of information will provide an accurate assessment of included issuers.
Concentration Risk. The Fund may be susceptible to an increased risk of loss, including losses due to adverse events that affect the Fund’s investments more than the market as a whole, to the extent that the Fund's investments are concentrated in the securities of a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class.
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's NAV is determined in U.S. dollars, the Fund's NAV could decline if the currency of a non-U.S. market in which the Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of such currency. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the Fund's NAV may change quickly and without warning.
Custody Risk. Less developed securities markets are more likely to experience problems with the clearing and settling of trades, as well as the holding of securities by local banks, agents and depositories.
Cybersecurity Risk. Failures or breaches of the electronic systems of the Fund, the Fund's adviser, distributor, the Index Provider and other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests have the ability to cause disruptions, negatively impact the Fund’s business operations and/or potentially result in financial losses to the Fund and its shareholders. While the Fund has
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established business continuity plans and risk management systems seeking to address system breaches or failures, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cybersecurity plans and systems of the Fund’s Index Provider and other service providers, market makers, Authorized Participants or issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
Dividend-Paying Stock Risk. The Fund’s emphasis on dividend-paying stocks involves the risk that such stocks may fall out of favor with investors and underperform the broader market. Also, there is no guarantee that issuers of the stocks held by the Fund will declare dividends in the future or that, if declared, they will either remain at current levels or increase over time.
Equity Securities Risk. Equity securities are subject to changes in value, and their values may be more volatile than those of other asset classes. The Underlying Index is comprised of common stocks, which generally subject their holders to more risks than preferred stocks and debt securities because common stockholders’ claims are subordinated to those of holders of preferred stocks and debt securities upon the bankruptcy of the issuer.
Financials Sector Risk. Performance of companies in the financials sector may be adversely impacted by many factors, including, among others, changes in government regulations, economic conditions, 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.
Index-Related Risk. There is no guarantee that the Fund’s investment results will have a high degree of correlation to those of the Underlying Index or that the Fund will achieve its investment objective. Market disruptions and regulatory restrictions could have an adverse effect on the Fund’s ability to adjust its exposure to the required levels in order to track the Underlying Index. Errors in index data, index computations or the construction of the Underlying Index in accordance with its methodology may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, which may have an adverse impact on the Fund and its shareholders.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities to which the Fund has exposure. Changes in the financial condition or credit rating of an issuer of those securities may cause the value of the securities to decline. There is no
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guarantee that an issuer that paid dividends in the past will continue to do so in the future or will continue paying dividends at the same level.
Large-Capitalization Companies Risk. Large-capitalization companies may be less able than smaller capitalization companies to adapt to changing market conditions. Large-capitalization companies may be more mature and subject to more limited growth potential compared with smaller capitalization companies. During different market cycles, the performance of large-capitalization companies has trailed the overall performance of the broader securities markets.
Management Risk. As the Fund will not fully replicate the Underlying Index, it is subject to the risk that BFA's investment strategy may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns.
Market Trading Risk. The Fund faces numerous market trading risks, including the potential lack of an active market for Fund shares, losses from trading in secondary markets, periods of high volatility and disruptions in the creation/redemption process. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV.
Mid-Capitalization Companies Risk. Compared to large-capitalization companies, mid-capitalization companies may be less stable and more susceptible to adverse developments. In addition, the securities of mid-capitalization companies may be more
volatile and less liquid than those of large-capitalization companies.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund trade on foreign exchanges or in foreign markets that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of such an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks associated with investing in those non-U.S. markets, such as heightened risks of inflation or nationalization. The Fund may lose money due to political, economic and geographic events affecting issuers of non-U.S. securities or non-U.S. markets. In addition, non-U.S. securities markets may trade a small number of securities and may be unable to respond effectively to changes in trading volume, potentially making prompt liquidation of holdings difficult or impossible at times. The Fund is specifically exposed to Asian Economic Risk.
Operational Risk. The Fund is exposed to operational risks arising from a number of factors, including, but not limited to, human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund’s service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks
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through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate to address significant operational risks.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund is not actively managed, and BFA generally does not attempt to take defensive positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Privatization Risk. 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 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 and the European Union (the “EU”), have imposed economic sanctions on certain Russian individuals and Russian corporate entities. Additionally, Russia is alleged to have participated in state-sponsored cyberattacks against foreign companies and foreign governments. Actual and threatened responses to such activity, including purchasing restrictions, sanctions, tariffs or cyberattacks on the Russian government or Russian companies, may impact Russia’s economy and Russian issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
Risk of Investing in Taiwan. Investments in Taiwanese issuers involve risks that are specific to Taiwan, including legal, regulatory, political and economic risks. Political and economic developments of Taiwan’s neighbors may have an adverse effect on Taiwan’s economy. Specifically, Taiwan’s geographic proximity and history of political contention with China have resulted in ongoing tensions, which may materially affect the Taiwanese economy and its securities market.
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
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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.
Small-Capitalization Companies Risk. Compared to mid- and large-capitalization companies, small-capitalization companies may be less stable and more susceptible to adverse developments. In addition, the securities of small-capitalization companies may be more volatile and less liquid than those of mid- and large-capitalization companies.
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), transaction costs incurred by the Fund, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or
the valuation of dividends or interest, the requirements to maintain pass-through tax treatment, portfolio transactions carried out to minimize the distribution of capital gains to shareholders, changes to the Underlying Index or the costs to the Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. This risk may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions. Tracking error also may result because the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not. BFA EXPECTS THAT THE FUND MAY EXPERIENCE HIGHER TRACKING ERROR THAN IS TYPICAL FOR SIMILAR INDEX ETFs.
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 Returns1 (Years Ended December 31)

1 The Fund’s year-to-date return as of June 30, 2019 was 11.64%.
The best calendar quarter return during the periods shown above was 13.85% in the 1st quarter of 2017; the worst was -23.74% in the 3rd quarter of 2015.
Updated performance information, including the Fund’s current NAV, may be obtained by visiting our website at www.iShares.com or by calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) (toll free).
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Average Annual Total Returns
(for the periods ended December 31, 2018)
  One Year   Five Years   Since Fund
Inception
(Inception Date: 2/23/2012)          
Return Before Taxes -5.42%   -0.20%   -0.72%
Return After Taxes on Distributions1 -6.48%   -1.37%   -1.81%
Return After Taxes on Distributions and Sale of Fund Shares1 -2.17%   -0.24%   -0.56%
Dow Jones Emerging Markets Select Dividend Index (Index returns do not reflect deductions for fees, expenses, or taxes) -5.70%   -0.15%   -0.80%

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. Rachel Aguirre, Jennifer Hsui, Alan Mason, Greg Savage and Amy Whitelaw (the “Portfolio Managers”) are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager supervises a portfolio management team. Ms. Aguirre, Ms. Hsui, Mr. Mason, Mr. Savage and Ms. Whitelaw have been Portfolio Managers of the Fund since 2018, 2012, 2016, 2012 and 2018, respectively.
Purchase and Sale of Fund Shares
The Fund is an ETF. Individual shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange. Most investors will buy and sell shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer. The price of Fund shares is based on market price, and because ETF shares trade at market prices rather than at NAV, shares may trade at a price greater than NAV (a premium) or less than NAV (a discount). The Fund will only issue or redeem shares that have been aggregated into blocks of 50,000 shares or multiples thereof (“Creation Units”) to Authorized Participants who have entered into agreements with the Fund's distributor. The Fund generally will issue or redeem Creation Units in return for a designated portfolio of securities (and an amount of cash) that the Fund specifies each day.
Tax Information
The Fund intends to make distributions that may be taxable to you as ordinary income or capital gains, unless you are investing through a tax-deferred arrangement such as a 401(k) plan or an IRA, in which case, your distributions generally will be taxed when withdrawn.
Payments to Broker-Dealers and Other Financial Intermediaries
If you purchase shares of the Fund through a broker-dealer or other financial intermediary (such as a bank), BFA or other related companies may pay the intermediary for marketing activities and presentations, educational training programs, conferences, the development of technology platforms and reporting systems or other services related to the sale or promotion of the Fund. These payments may create a conflict of interest by influencing the broker-dealer or other intermediary and your salesperson to recommend the Fund over another investment. Ask your salesperson or visit your financial intermediary’s website for more information.
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More Information About the Fund
This Prospectus contains important information about investing in the Fund. Please read this Prospectus carefully before you make any investment decisions. Additional information regarding the Fund is available at www.iShares.com.
BFA is the investment adviser to the Fund. Shares of the Fund are listed for trading on NYSE Arca, Inc. (“NYSE Arca”). The market price for a share of the Fund may be different from the Fund’s most recent NAV.
ETFs are funds that trade like other publicly-traded securities. The Fund is designed to track an index. Similar to shares of an index mutual fund, each share of the Fund represents an ownership interest in an underlying portfolio of securities and other instruments intended to track a market index. Unlike shares of a mutual fund, which can be bought and redeemed from the issuing fund by all shareholders at a price based on NAV, shares of the Fund may be purchased or redeemed directly from the Fund at NAV solely by Authorized Participants and only in Creation Unit increments. Also unlike shares of a mutual fund, shares of the Fund are listed on a national securities exchange and trade in the secondary market at market prices that change throughout the day.
The Fund invests in a particular segment of the securities markets and seeks to track the performance of a securities index that is not representative of the market as a whole. The Fund is designed to be used as part of broader asset allocation strategies. Accordingly, an investment in the Fund should not constitute a complete investment program.
An index is a financial calculation, based on a grouping of financial instruments, and is not an investment product, while the Fund is an actual investment portfolio. The performance of the Fund and the Underlying Index may vary for a number of reasons, including transaction costs, non-U.S. currency valuations, asset valuations, corporate actions (such as mergers and spin-offs), timing variances and differences between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index resulting from the Fund's use of representative sampling or from legal restrictions (such as diversification requirements) that apply to the Fund but not to the Underlying Index. From time to time, the Index Provider may make changes to the methodology or other adjustments to the Underlying Index. Unless otherwise determined by BFA, any such change or adjustment will be reflected in the calculation of the Underlying Index performance on a going-forward basis after the effective date of such change or adjustment. Therefore, the Underlying Index performance shown for periods prior to the effective date of any such change or adjustment will generally not be recalculated or restated to reflect such change or adjustment.
“Tracking error” is the divergence of the Fund's performance from that of the Underlying Index. BFA expects that, over time, the Fund’s tracking error will not exceed 5%. Because the Fund uses a representative sampling indexing strategy, it can be expected to have a larger tracking error than if it used a replication indexing strategy. “Replication” is an indexing strategy in which a fund invests in substantially all of the
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securities in its underlying index in approximately the same proportions as in the underlying index.
Under continuous listing standards adopted by the Fund's listing exchange, the Fund is required to confirm on an ongoing basis that the components of the Underlying Index satisfy the applicable listing requirements. In the event that the Underlying Index does not comply with the applicable listing requirements, the Fund is required to rectify such non-compliance by requesting that the Index Provider modify the Underlying Index, adopting a new underlying index, or obtaining relief from the SEC. Failure to rectify such non-compliance may result in the Fund being delisted by the listing exchange.
The Fund may borrow as a temporary measure for extraordinary or emergency purposes, including to meet redemptions or to facilitate the settlement of securities or other transactions. The Fund does not intend to borrow money in order to leverage its portfolio.
An investment in the Fund is not a bank deposit and it is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency, BFA or any of its affiliates.
The Fund's investment objective and the Underlying Index may be changed without shareholder approval.
A Further Discussion of Principal Risks
The Fund is subject to various risks, including the principal risks noted below, any of which may adversely affect the Fund’s NAV, trading price, yield, total return and ability to meet its investment objective. You could lose all or part of your investment in the Fund, and the Fund could underperform other investments. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Asian Economic Risk. Many Asian economies have experienced rapid growth and industrialization in recent years, but there is no assurance that this growth rate will be maintained. Other Asian economies, however, have experienced high inflation, high unemployment, currency devaluations and restrictions, and over-extension of credit. Geopolitical hostility, political instability, and economic or environmental events in any one Asian country may have a significant economic effect on the entire Asian region, as well as on major trading partners outside Asia. Any adverse event in the Asian markets may have a significant adverse effect on some or all of the economies of the countries in which the Fund invests. Many Asian countries are subject to political risk, including political instability, corruption and regional conflict with neighboring countries. North Korea and South Korea each have substantial military capabilities, and historical tensions between the two countries present the risk of war. Escalated tensions involving the two countries and any outbreak of hostilities between the two countries, or even the threat of an outbreak of hostilities, could have a severe adverse effect on the entire Asian region. Certain Asian countries have 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
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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, markets, asset classes or sectors. Various types of securities, currencies and indexes may experience cycles of outperformance and underperformance in comparison to the general financial markets depending upon a number of factors including, among other things, inflation, interest rates, productivity, global demand for local products or resources, and regulation and governmental controls. This may cause the Fund to underperform other investment vehicles that invest in different asset classes.
Authorized Participant Concentration Risk. Only an Authorized Participant may engage in creation or redemption transactions directly with the Fund, and none of those Authorized Participants is obligated to engage in creation and/or redemption transactions. The Fund has a limited number of institutions that may act as Authorized Participants on an agency basis (i.e., on behalf of other market participants). To the extent that Authorized Participants exit the business or are unable to proceed with creation or redemption orders with respect to the Fund and no other Authorized Participant is able to step forward to create or redeem Creation Units, Fund shares may be more likely to trade at a premium or discount to NAV and possibly face trading halts or delisting. Authorized Participant concentration risk may be heightened because ETFs, such as the Fund, that invest in securities issued by non-U.S. issuers or other securities or instruments that are less widely traded often involve greater settlement and operational issues and capital costs for Authorized Participants, which may limit the availability of Authorized Participants.
Basic Materials Industry Risk. Issuers in the basic materials industry may be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, exchange rate fluctuations, 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.
Calculation Methodology Risk. The Underlying Index relies on various sources of information to assess the criteria of issuers included in the Underlying Index, including information that may be based on assumptions and estimates. Neither the Fund nor BFA can offer assurances that the Underlying Index’s calculation methodology or sources of information will provide an accurate assessment of included issuers.
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. The Fund may be more adversely affected by the underperformance of those securities, may experience increased price volatility and may be more susceptible to adverse economic, market,
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political or regulatory occurrences affecting those securities than a fund that does not concentrate its investments.
Currency Risk. Because the Fund's NAV is determined on the basis of the U.S. dollar, investors may lose money if the currency of a non-U.S. market in which the Fund invests depreciates against the U.S. dollar or if there are delays or limits on repatriation of such currency, even if such currency value of the Fund's holdings in that market increases. Currency exchange rates can be very volatile and can change quickly and unpredictably. As a result, the Fund’s NAV may change quickly and without warning.
Custody Risk. Custody risk refers to the risks inherent in the process of clearing and settling trades, as well as the holding of securities by local banks, agents and depositories. Low trading volumes and volatile prices in less developed markets may make trades harder to complete and settle, and governments or trade groups may compel local agents to hold securities in designated depositories that may not be subject to independent evaluation. Local agents are held only to the standards of care of their local markets. In general, the less developed a country’s securities markets are, the higher the degree of custody risk.
Cybersecurity Risk. With the increased use of technologies such as the internet to conduct business, the Fund, Authorized Participants, service providers and the relevant listing exchange are susceptible to operational, information security and related “cyber” risks both directly and through their service providers. Similar types of cybersecurity risks are also present for issuers of securities in which the Fund invests, which could result in material adverse consequences for such issuers and may cause the Fund’s investment in such portfolio companies to lose value. Unlike many other types of risks faced by the Fund, these risks typically are not covered by insurance. In general, cyber incidents can result from deliberate attacks or unintentional events. Cyber incidents include, but are not limited to, gaining unauthorized access to digital systems (e.g., through “hacking” or malicious software coding) for purposes of misappropriating assets or sensitive information, corrupting data, or causing operational disruption. Cyberattacks may also be carried out in a manner that does not require gaining unauthorized access, such as causing denial-of-service attacks on websites (i.e., efforts to make network services unavailable to intended users). Recently, geopolitical tensions may have increased the scale and sophistication of deliberate attacks, particularly those from nation-states or from entities with nation-state backing.
Cybersecurity failures by or breaches of the systems of the Fund’s adviser, distributor and other service providers (including, but not limited to, index and benchmark providers, fund accountants, custodians, transfer agents and administrators), market makers, Authorized Participants or the issuers of securities in which the Fund invests, have the ability to cause disruptions and impact business operations, potentially resulting in: financial losses, interference with the Fund’s ability to calculate its NAV, disclosure of confidential trading information, impediments to trading, submission of erroneous trades or erroneous creation or redemption orders, the inability of the Fund or its service providers to transact business, violations of applicable privacy and other laws, regulatory fines, penalties, reputational damage, reimbursement or other
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compensation costs, or additional compliance costs. In addition, cyberattacks may render records of Fund assets and transactions, shareholder ownership of Fund shares, and other data integral to the functioning of the Fund inaccessible or inaccurate or incomplete. Substantial costs may be incurred by the Fund in order to resolve or prevent cyber incidents in the future. While the Fund has established business continuity plans in the event of, and risk management systems to prevent, such cyberattacks, there are inherent limitations in such plans and systems, including the possibility that certain risks have not been identified and that prevention and remediation efforts will not be successful or that cyberattacks will go undetected. Furthermore, the Fund cannot control the cybersecurity plans and systems put in place by service providers to the Fund, issuers in which the Fund invests, the Index Provider, market makers or Authorized Participants. The Fund and its shareholders could be negatively impacted as a result.
Dividend-Paying Stock Risk. The Fund's strategy of investing in dividend-paying stocks involves the risk that such stocks may fall out of favor with investors and underperform the broader market. Also, there is no guarantee that issuers of the stocks held by the Fund will declare dividends in the future or that, if declared, such dividends will remain at current levels or increase over time. Depending upon market conditions, dividend-paying stocks that meet the Fund’s investment criteria may not be widely available and/or may be highly concentrated in only a few market sectors.
Equity Securities Risk. The Fund invests in equity securities, which are subject to changes in value that may be attributable to market perception of a particular issuer or to general stock market fluctuations that affect all issuers. Investments in equity securities may be more volatile than investments in other asset classes. The Underlying Index is comprised of common stocks, which generally subject their holders to more risks than preferred stocks and debt securities because common stockholders' claims are subordinated to those of holders of preferred stocks and debt securities upon the bankruptcy of the issuer.
Financials Sector Risk. 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 U.S. and global financials sector. The impact of changes in capital requirements, or recent or future regulation in various countries, on any individual financial company or on the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. Certain risks may impact the value of investments in the financials sector more severely than those of investments outside this sector, including the risks associated with companies that operate with substantial financial leverage.
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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.
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.
Index-Related Risk. The Fund seeks to achieve a return that corresponds generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Underlying Index as published by the Index Provider. There is no assurance that the Index Provider or any agents that may act on its behalf will compile the Underlying Index accurately, or that the Underlying Index will be determined, composed or calculated accurately. While the Index Provider provides descriptions of what the Underlying Index is designed to achieve, neither the Index Provider nor its agents provide any warranty or accept any liability in relation to the quality, accuracy or completeness of the Underlying Index or its related data, and they do not guarantee that the Underlying Index will be in line with the Index Provider’s methodology. BFA’s mandate as described in this Prospectus is to manage the Fund consistently with the Underlying Index provided by the Index Provider to BFA. BFA does not provide any warranty or guarantee against the Index Provider’s or any agent’s errors. Errors in respect of the quality, accuracy and completeness of the data used to compile the Underlying Index may occur from time to time and may not be identified and corrected by the Index Provider for a period of time or at all, particularly where the indices are less commonly used as benchmarks by funds or managers. Such errors may negatively or positively impact the Fund and its shareholders. For example, during a period where the Underlying Index contains incorrect constituents, the Fund would have market exposure to such constituents and would be underexposed to the Underlying Index’s other constituents. Shareholders should understand that any gains from Index Provider errors will be kept by the Fund and its shareholders and any losses or costs resulting from Index Provider errors will be borne by the Fund and its shareholders.
Apart from scheduled rebalances, the Index Provider or its agents may carry out additional ad hoc rebalances to the Underlying Index in order, for example, to correct an error in the selection of index constituents. When the Underlying Index is rebalanced and the Fund in turn rebalances its portfolio to attempt to increase the correlation between the Fund’s portfolio and the Underlying Index, any transaction costs and market exposure arising from such portfolio rebalancing will be borne
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directly by the Fund and its shareholders. Therefore, errors and additional ad hoc rebalances carried out by the Index Provider or its agents to the Underlying Index may increase the costs to and the tracking error risk of the Fund.
Issuer Risk. The performance of the Fund depends on the performance of individual securities to which the Fund has exposure. Any issuer of these securities may perform poorly, causing the value of its securities to decline. Poor performance may be caused by poor management decisions, competitive pressures, changes in technology, expiration of patent protection, disruptions in supply, labor problems or shortages, corporate restructurings, fraudulent disclosures, credit deterioration of the issuer or other factors. Issuers may, in times of distress or at their own discretion, decide to reduce or eliminate dividends, which may also cause their stock prices to decline. There is no guarantee that an issuer that paid dividends in the past will continue to do so in the future or will continue paying dividends at the same level. An issuer may also be subject to risks associated with the countries, states and regions in which the issuer resides, invests, sells products, or otherwise conducts operations.
Large-Capitalization Companies Risk. Large-capitalization companies may be less able than smaller capitalization companies to adapt to changing market conditions. Large-capitalization companies may be more mature and subject to more limited growth potential compared with smaller capitalization companies. During different market cycles, the performance of large-capitalization companies has trailed the overall performance of the broader securities markets.
Management Risk. Because BFA uses a representative sampling indexing strategy, the Fund will not fully replicate the Underlying Index and may hold securities not included in the Underlying Index. As a result, the Fund is subject to the risk that BFA’s investment strategy, the implementation of which is subject to a number of constraints, may not produce the intended results.
Market Risk. The Fund could lose money over short periods due to short-term market movements and over longer periods during more prolonged market downturns. The value of a security or other asset may decline due to changes in general market conditions, economic trends or events that are not specifically related to the issuer of the security or other asset, or factors that affect a particular issuer or issuers, country, group of countries, region, market, industry, group of industries, sector or asset class. During a general market downturn, multiple asset classes may be negatively affected. Changes in market conditions and interest rates generally do not have the same impact on all types of securities and instruments.
Market Trading Risk
Absence of Active Market. Although shares of the Fund are listed for trading on one or more stock exchanges, there can be no assurance that an active trading market for such shares will develop or be maintained by market makers or Authorized Participants.
Risk of Secondary Listings. The Fund's shares may be listed or traded on U.S. and non-U.S. stock exchanges other than the U.S. stock exchange where the Fund's primary listing is maintained, and may otherwise be made available to non-U.S. investors through funds or structured investment vehicles similar to depositary receipts. There
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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 the market value of the Fund’s holdings. The trading price of the Fund's shares fluctuates continuously throughout trading hours based on both market supply of and demand for Fund shares and the underlying value of the Fund's portfolio holdings or NAV. As a result, the trading prices of the Fund’s shares may deviate significantly from NAV during periods of market volatility. ANY OF THESE FACTORS, AMONG OTHERS, MAY LEAD TO THE FUND'S SHARES TRADING AT A PREMIUM OR DISCOUNT TO NAV. However, because shares can be created and redeemed in Creation Units at NAV, BFA believes that large discounts or premiums to the NAV of the Fund are not likely to be sustained over the long term (unlike shares of many closed-end funds, which frequently trade at appreciable discounts from, and sometimes at premiums to, their NAVs). While the creation/redemption feature is designed to make it more likely that the Fund’s shares normally will trade on stock exchanges at prices close to the Fund’s next calculated NAV, exchange prices are not expected to correlate exactly with the Fund's NAV due to timing reasons, supply and demand imbalances and other factors. In addition, disruptions to creations and redemptions, including disruptions at market makers, Authorized Participants, or other market participants, and during periods of significant market volatility, may result in trading prices for shares of the Fund that differ significantly from its NAV. Authorized Participants may be less willing to create or redeem Fund shares if there is a lack of an active market for such shares
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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.
Mid-Capitalization Companies Risk. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies may be more volatile than those of large-capitalization companies and, therefore, the Fund’s share price may be more volatile than those of funds that invest a larger percentage of their assets in stocks issued by large-capitalization companies. Stock prices of mid-capitalization companies are also more vulnerable than those of large-capitalization companies to adverse business or economic developments, and the stocks of mid-capitalization companies may be less liquid than those of large-capitalization companies, making it difficult for the Fund to buy and sell shares of mid-capitalization companies. In addition, mid-capitalization companies generally have less diverse product lines than large-capitalization companies and are more susceptible to adverse developments related to their products.
National Closed Market Trading Risk. To the extent that the underlying securities held by the Fund trade on foreign exchanges or in foreign markets that may be closed when the securities exchange on which the Fund’s shares trade is open, there are likely to be deviations between the current price of an underlying security and the last quoted price for the underlying security (i.e., the Fund’s quote from the closed foreign market). These deviations could result in premiums or discounts to the Fund’s NAV that may be greater than those experienced by other ETFs.
Non-U.S. Securities Risk. Investments in the securities of non-U.S. issuers are subject to the risks of investing in the markets where such issuers are located, including heightened risks of inflation, nationalization and market fluctuations caused by economic and political developments. As a result of investing in non-U.S. securities, the Fund may be subject to increased risk of loss caused by any of the factors listed below:
A lack of market liquidity and market efficiency;
Greater securities price volatility;
Exchange rate fluctuations and exchange controls;
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Less availability of public information about issuers;
Limitations on foreign ownership of securities;
Imposition of withholding or other taxes;
Imposition of restrictions on the expatriation of the funds or other assets of the Fund;
Higher transaction and custody costs and delays in settlement procedures;
Difficulties in enforcing contractual obligations;
Lower levels of regulation of the securities markets;
Weaker accounting, disclosure and reporting requirements; and
Legal principles relating to corporate governance, directors’ fiduciary duties and liabilities and stockholders’ rights in markets in which the Fund invests may differ from and/or may not be as extensive or protective as those that apply in the U.S.
Operational Risk. The Fund is exposed to operational risks arising from a number of factors, including, but not limited to, human error, processing and communication errors, errors of the Fund’s service providers, counterparties or other third-parties, failed or inadequate processes and technology or systems failures. The Fund and BFA seek to reduce these operational risks through controls and procedures. However, these measures do not address every possible risk and may be inadequate to address significant operational risks.
Passive Investment Risk. The Fund is not actively managed and may be affected by a general decline in market segments related to the Underlying Index. The Fund invests in securities included in, or representative of, the Underlying Index, regardless of their investment merits. BFA generally does not attempt to invest the Fund's assets in defensive positions under any market conditions, including declining markets.
Privatization Risk. 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 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. The economies of some countries or regions in which the Fund invests are dependent on trading with certain key trading partners. Reduction in spending on the products and services of these countries or regions, institution of tariffs or other trade barriers by any of their key trading partners or a slowdown in the economies of any of their key trading partners may cause an adverse impact on the economies of such countries or regions.
Risk of Investing in 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
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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;
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;
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; and
The risk that various responses by other nation-states to alleged Russian cyber activity will impact Russia’s economy and Russian issuers of securities in which the Fund invests.
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
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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.
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.
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.
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Risk of Investing in Taiwan. Investments in Taiwanese issuers may subject the Fund to legal, regulatory, political, currency and economic risks that are specific to Taiwan. Specifically, Taiwan’s geographic proximity and history of political contention with China have resulted in ongoing tensions between the two countries. These tensions may materially affect the Taiwanese economy and its securities market. Taiwan's economy is export-oriented, so it depends on an open world trade regime and remains vulnerable to fluctuations in the world economy. Rising labor costs and increasing environmental consciousness have led some labor-intensive industries to relocate to countries with cheaper work forces, and continued labor outsourcing may adversely affect the Taiwanese economy.
Securities Lending Risk. The Fund may engage in securities lending. Securities lending involves the risk that the Fund may lose money because the borrower of the loaned securities fails to return the securities in a timely manner or at all. The Fund could also lose money in the event of a decline in the value of collateral provided for loaned securities or a decline in the value of any investments made with cash collateral. These events could also trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (“BTC”), the Fund's securities lending agent, will take into account the tax impact to shareholders of substitute payments for dividends when managing the Fund's securities lending program.
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.
Small-Capitalization Companies Risk. Stock prices of small-capitalization companies may be more volatile than those of larger companies and, therefore, the Fund's share price may be more volatile than those of funds that invest a larger percentage of their assets in stocks issued by mid- or large-capitalization companies. Stock prices of small-capitalization companies are generally more vulnerable than those of mid- or large-capitalization companies to adverse business and economic developments. Securities of small-capitalization companies may be thinly traded, making it difficult for the Fund to buy and sell them. In addition, small-capitalization companies are typically less financially stable than larger, more established companies and may depend on a small number of essential personnel, making these companies more vulnerable to experiencing adverse effects due to the loss of personnel. Small-capitalization companies also normally have less diverse product lines than those of mid- or large-capitalization companies and are more susceptible to adverse developments concerning their products.
Structural Risk. Certain political, economic, legal and currency risks could contribute to a high degree of price volatility in the equity markets of some of the countries in which the Fund may invest and could adversely affect investments in the Fund.
Political and Social Risk. Disparities of wealth, the pace and success of democratization and ethnic, religious and racial disaffection, among other factors, may exacerbate social unrest, violence and labor unrest in some of the countries in which the Fund may invest. Unanticipated or sudden political or social developments may result in sudden
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and significant investment losses.
Economic Risk. Some countries in which the Fund may invest may experience economic instability, including instability resulting from substantial rates of inflation or significant devaluations of their currency, or economic recessions, which would have a negative effect on the economies and securities markets of their economies. Some of these countries may also impose restrictions on the exchange or export of currency or adverse currency exchange rates and may be characterized by a lack of available currency hedging instruments.
Expropriation Risk. Investments in certain countries in which the Fund may invest may be subject to loss due to expropriation or nationalization of assets and property or the imposition of restrictions on foreign investments and repatriation of capital.
Large Government Debt Risk. Chronic structural public sector deficits in some countries in which the Fund may invest may adversely impact securities held by the Fund.
Tracking Error Risk. The Fund may be subject to tracking error, which is the divergence of the Fund’s performance from that of the Underlying Index. Tracking error may occur because of differences between the securities and other instruments held in the Fund’s portfolio and those included in the Underlying Index, pricing differences (including, as applicable, differences between a security’s price at the local market close and the Fund's valuation of a security at the time of calculation of the Fund's NAV), transaction costs incurred by the Fund, the Fund’s holding of uninvested cash, differences in timing of the accrual of or the valuation of dividends or interest, the requirements to maintain pass-through tax treatment, portfolio transactions carried out to minimize the distribution of capital gains to shareholders, changes to the Underlying Index or the costs to the Fund of complying with various new or existing regulatory requirements. This risk may be heightened during times of increased market volatility or other unusual market conditions. Tracking error also may result because the Fund incurs fees and expenses, while the Underlying Index does not. BFA EXPECTS THAT THE FUND MAY EXPERIENCE HIGHER TRACKING ERROR THAN IS TYPICAL FOR SIMILAR INDEX ETFs.
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. 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
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shareholders will not be able to purchase or sell the Fund’s shares. In addition, for purposes of calculating the Fund's NAV, the value of assets denominated in non-U.S. currencies is converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. This conversion may result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the Fund's NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund's performance and the performance of the Underlying Index. Authorized Participants who purchase or redeem Fund shares on days when the Fund is holding fair-valued securities may receive fewer or more shares, or lower or higher redemption proceeds, than they would have received had the Fund not fair-valued securities or used a different valuation methodology. The Fund’s ability to value investments may be impacted by technological issues or errors by pricing services or other third-party service providers.
A Further Discussion of Other Risks
The Fund may also be subject to certain other risks associated with its investments and investment strategies. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
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
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Africa significantly riskier than investing in issuers located or operating in more developed countries.
Borrowing Risk. Borrowing may exaggerate changes in the net asset value of Fund shares and in the return on the Fund’s portfolio. Borrowing will cost the Fund interest expense and other fees. The costs of borrowing may reduce the Fund’s return. Borrowing may also cause the Fund to liquidate positions when it may not be advantageous to do so to satisfy its obligations.
Central and South American Economic Risk. The economies of certain Central and South American countries have experienced high interest rates, economic volatility, inflation, currency devaluations, government defaults and high unemployment rates. In addition, commodities (such as oil, gas and minerals) represent a significant percentage of the region's exports and many economies in these regions are particularly sensitive to fluctuations in commodity prices. Adverse economic events in one country may have a significant adverse effect on other countries of these regions.
Close-out Risk for Qualified Financial Contracts. Regulations adopted by global prudential regulators that are now in effect require counterparties that are part of U.S. or foreign global systemically important banking organizations to include contractual restrictions on close-out and cross-default in agreements relating to qualified financial contracts. Qualified financial contracts include agreements relating to swaps, currency forwards and other derivatives as well as repurchase agreements and securities lending agreements. The restrictions prevent the Fund from closing out a qualified financial contract during a specified time period if the counterparty is subject to resolution proceedings and prohibit the Fund from exercising default rights due to a receivership or similar proceeding of an affiliate of the counterparty. These requirements may increase credit risk and other risks to the Fund.
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;
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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 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.
Illiquid Investments Risk. The Fund may invest up to an aggregate amount of 15% of its net assets in illiquid investments. An illiquid investment is any investment that the Fund reasonably expects cannot be sold or disposed of in current market conditions in seven calendar days or less without significantly changing the market value of the investment. To the extent the Fund holds illiquid investments, the illiquid investments may reduce the returns of the Fund because the Fund may be unable to transact at advantageous times or prices. An investment may be illiquid due to, among other things, the reduced number and capacity of traditional market participants to make a market in securities or instruments or the lack of an active market for such securities or instruments. To the extent that the Fund invests in securities or instruments with substantial market and/or credit risk, the Fund will tend to have increased exposure to the risks associated with illiquid investments. Liquid investments may become illiquid after purchase by the Fund, particularly during periods of market turmoil. There can be no assurance that a security or instrument that is deemed to be liquid when purchased will continue to be liquid for as long as it is held by the Fund, and any security or instrument held by the Fund may be deemed an illiquid investment pursuant to the Fund’s liquidity risk management program. Illiquid investments may be harder to value, especially in changing markets. If the Fund is forced to sell underlying investments at reduced prices or under unfavorable conditions to meet redemption requests or for other cash needs, the Fund may suffer a loss. This may be magnified in a rising interest rate environment or other circumstances where redemptions from the Fund may be greater than normal. Other market participants may be attempting to liquidate holdings at the same time as the Fund, causing increased supply of the Fund’s underlying investments in the market and contributing to illiquid investments risk and downward pricing pressure. During periods of market volatility, liquidity in the market
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for the Fund’s shares may be impacted by the liquidity in the market for the underlying securities or instruments held by the Fund, which could lead to the Fund’s shares trading at a premium or discount to the Fund’s NAV.
Industrials Sector Risk. The value of securities issued by companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by supply and demand changes related to their specific products or services and industrials sector products in general. The products of manufacturing companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction. Global events, trade disputes and changes in government regulations, economic conditions and exchange rates may adversely affect the performance of companies in the industrials sector. Companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by liability for environmental damage and product liability claims. The industrials sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors. Companies in the industrials sector, particularly aerospace and defense companies, may also be adversely affected by government spending policies because companies in this sector tend to rely to a significant extent on government demand for their products and services.
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.
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
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and other types of litigation. Companies in the oil and gas industry may be adversely affected by: natural disasters or other catastrophes; changes in exchange rates, interest rates or economic conditions; technological developments, prices for competitive energy services and increased competition; changes in the actual or perceived availability of oil deposits; imposition of import controls, changes in tax treatment or government regulation or government intervention; negative public perception; or unfavorable events in the regions where companies operate (e.g., expropriation, nationalization, confiscation of assets and property, imposition of restrictions on foreign investments or repatriation of capital, military coups, social or political unrest, violence or labor unrest). Companies in the oil and gas industry may have significant capital investments in, or engage in transactions involving, emerging market countries, which may heighten these risks. Companies that own or operate gas pipelines are subject to certain risks, including pipeline and equipment leaks and ruptures, explosions, fires, unscheduled downtime, transportation interruptions, discharges or releases of toxic or hazardous gases and other environmental risks.
Technology Sector Risk. Technology companies, including information technology companies, face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on a company’s profit margins. Technology companies may 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.
Telecommunications Sector Risk. The telecommunications sector is subject to extensive government regulation. The costs of complying with governmental regulations, delays or failure to receive required regulatory approvals, or the enactment of new regulatory requirements may negatively affect the business of telecommunications companies. Government actions around the world, specifically in the area of pre-marketing clearance of products and prices, can be arbitrary and unpredictable. Companies in the telecommunications sector may encounter distressed cash flows due to the need to commit substantial capital to meet increasing competition, particularly in developing new products and services using new technology. Technological innovations may make the products and services of certain telecommunications companies obsolete. Telecommunications providers are generally required to obtain franchises or licenses in order to provide services in a given location. Licensing and franchise rights in the telecommunications sector are limited, which may provide an advantage to certain participants. Limited availability of such rights, high barriers to market entry and regulatory oversight, among other factors, have led to consolidation of companies within the sector, which could lead to further regulation or other negative effects in the future.
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Threshold/Underinvestment Risk. If certain aggregate and/or fund-level ownership thresholds are reached through transactions undertaken by BFA, its affiliates or the Fund, or as a result of third-party transactions or actions by an issuer or regulator, the ability of BFA and its affiliates on behalf of clients (including the Fund) to purchase or dispose of investments, or exercise rights or undertake business transactions, may be restricted by regulation or otherwise impaired. The capacity of the Fund to make investments in certain securities may be affected by the relevant threshold limits, and such limitations may have adverse effects on the liquidity and performance of the Fund’s portfolio holdings compared to the performance of the Underlying Index. This may increase the risk of the Fund being underinvested to the Underlying Index and increase the risk of tracking error.
For example, in certain circumstances where the Fund invests in securities issued by companies that operate in certain regulated industries or in certain emerging or international markets, or is subject to corporate or regulatory ownership restrictions, or invests in certain futures or other derivative transactions, there may be limits on the aggregate and/or fund-level amount invested or voted by BFA and its affiliates for their proprietary accounts and for client accounts (including the Fund) that may not be exceeded without the grant of a license or other regulatory or corporate consent or, if exceeded, may cause BFA and its affiliates, the Fund or other client accounts to suffer disadvantages or business restrictions.
Utilities Sector Risk. Companies in the utilities sector may be adversely affected by changes in exchange rates, domestic and international competition, and governmental limitations on rates charged to customers. The value of regulated utility debt securities (and, to a lesser extent, equity securities) tends to have an inverse relationship to the movement of interest rates. 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 dividends on stocks issued by a utility company. Energy conservation and changes in climate policy may also have a significant adverse impact on the revenues and expenses of utility companies.
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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 0.49%. BFA has contractually agreed to waive a portion of its management fees in an amount equal to the aggregate Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any, attributable to investments by the Fund in other series of iShares Trust and the Company through August 31, 2022. The contractual waiver may be terminated prior to August 31, 2022 only upon written agreement of the Company and BFA. In addition, BFA may from time to time voluntarily waive and/or reimburse fees or expenses in order to limit total annual fund operating expenses (excluding Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, if any). Any such voluntary waiver or reimbursement may be eliminated by BFA at any time.
BFA is located at 400 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. It is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc. (“BlackRock”). As of June 30, 2019, BFA and its affiliates provided investment advisory services for assets in excess of $6.84 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 semi-annual report for the period ended October 31.
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Portfolio Managers. Rachel Aguirre, Jennifer Hsui, Alan Mason, Greg Savage and Amy Whitelaw are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the Fund. Each Portfolio Manager is responsible for various functions related to portfolio management, including, but not limited to, investing cash inflows, coordinating with members of his or her portfolio management team to focus on certain asset classes, implementing investment strategy, researching and reviewing investment strategy and overseeing members of his or her portfolio management team that have more limited responsibilities.
Rachel Aguirre has been with BlackRock since 2006, including her years with Barclays Global Investors (“BGI”), which merged with BlackRock in 2009. Ms. Aguirre has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 2006 and has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2018.
Jennifer Hsui has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a senior portfolio manager since 2007. Prior to that, Ms. Hsui was a portfolio manager from 2006 to 2007 for Barclays Global Fund Advisors (“BGFA”). Ms. Hsui has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2012.
Alan Mason has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 1991. Mr. Mason has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2016.
Greg Savage has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a senior portfolio manager since 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Savage was a portfolio manager from 2001 to 2006 for BGFA. Mr. Savage has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2012.
Amy Whitelaw has been with BlackRock since 1999, including her years with BGI, which merged with BlackRock in 2009. Ms. Whitelaw has been employed by BFA or its affiliates as a portfolio manager since 2009 and has been a Portfolio Manager of the Fund since 2018.
The Fund's SAI provides additional information about the Portfolio Managers' compensation, other accounts managed by the Portfolio Managers and the Portfolio Managers' ownership (if any) of shares in the Fund.
Administrator, Custodian and Transfer Agent. State Street Bank and Trust Company (“State Street”) is the administrator, custodian and transfer agent for the Fund.
Conflicts of Interest. The investment activities of BFA and its affiliates (including BlackRock and its subsidiaries (collectively, the “Affiliates”)), The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (which, through a subsidiary, has a significant economic interest in BlackRock) and its subsidiaries (each with The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., an “Entity” and collectively, the “Entities”), and their respective directors, officers or employees, in the management of, or their interest in, their own accounts and other accounts they manage, may present conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA, its Affiliates and the Entities provide investment management services to other funds and discretionary managed accounts that may 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
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Fund. BFA or one or more Affiliates or Entities act, or may act, as an investor, investment banker, research provider, investment manager, commodity pool operator, commodity trading advisor, financier, underwriter, adviser, market maker, trader, prime broker, lender, index provider, agent and/or principal, and have other direct and indirect interests in securities, currencies, commodities, derivatives and other instruments in which the Fund may directly or indirectly invest. Thus, it is likely that the Fund will have multiple business relationships with and will invest in, engage in transactions with, make voting decisions with respect to, or obtain services from, entities for which an Affiliate or an Entity performs or seeks to perform investment banking or other services. Specifically, the Fund may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies with which an Affiliate or an Entity has developed or is trying to develop investment banking relationships or in which an Affiliate or an Entity has significant debt or equity investments or other interests. The Fund may also invest in issuances (such as structured notes) by entities for which an Affiliate or an Entity provides and is compensated for cash management services relating to the proceeds from the sale of such issuances. The Fund also may invest in securities of, or engage in other transactions with, companies for which an Affiliate or an Entity provides or may in the future provide research coverage. An Affiliate or an Entity may have business relationships with, and purchase or distribute or sell services or products from or to, distributors, consultants or others who recommend the Fund or who engage in transactions with or for the Fund, and may receive compensation for such services. The Fund may also make brokerage and other payments to Entities in connection with the Fund's portfolio investment transactions. BFA or one or more Affiliates or Entities may engage in proprietary trading and advise accounts and funds that have investment objectives similar to those of the Fund and/or that engage in and compete for transactions in the same types of securities, currencies and other instruments as the Fund. This may include transactions in securities issued by other open-end and closed-end investment companies (which may include investment companies that are affiliated with the Fund and BFA, to the extent permitted under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”)). The trading activities of BFA and these Affiliates or Entities are carried out without reference to positions held directly or indirectly by the Fund and may result in BFA or an Affiliate or an Entity having positions in certain securities that are senior or junior to, or have interests different from or adverse to, the securities that are owned by the Fund.
Neither BlackRock nor any Affiliate is under any obligation to share any investment opportunity, idea or strategy with the Fund. As a result, an Affiliate may compete with the Fund for appropriate investment opportunities. The results of the Fund's investment activities, therefore, may differ from those of an Affiliate and of other accounts managed by an Affiliate, and it is possible that the Fund could sustain losses during periods in which one or more Affiliates and other accounts achieve profits on their trading for proprietary or other accounts. The opposite result is also possible.
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.
Under a securities lending program approved by the Board, the Fund has retained BTC, an Affiliate of BFA, to serve as the securities lending agent for the Fund to the extent that the Fund participates in the securities lending program. For these services, the securities lending agent will receive a fee from the Fund, including a fee based on the returns earned on the Fund’s investment of the cash received as collateral for the loaned securities. In addition, one or more Affiliates or Entities may be among the entities to which the Fund may lend its portfolio securities under the securities lending program.
The activities of BFA, its Affiliates and Entities and their respective directors, officers or employees, may give rise to other conflicts of interest that could disadvantage the Fund and its shareholders. BFA has adopted policies and procedures designed to address these potential conflicts of interest. See the SAI for further information.
Shareholder Information
Additional shareholder information, including how to buy and sell shares of the Fund, is available free of charge by calling toll-free: 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or visiting our website at www.iShares.com.
Buying and Selling Shares. Shares of the Fund may be acquired or redeemed directly from the Fund only in Creation Units or multiples thereof, as discussed in the Creations and Redemptions section of this Prospectus. Only an Authorized Participant (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 “DVYE.”
Buying or selling Fund shares on an exchange or other secondary market involves two types of costs that may apply to all securities transactions. When buying or selling shares of the Fund through a broker, you may incur a brokerage commission and other charges. The commission is frequently a fixed amount and may be a significant proportional cost for investors seeking to buy or sell small amounts of shares. In addition, you may incur the cost of the “spread,” that is, any difference between the bid price and the ask price. The spread varies over time for shares of the Fund based on the Fund’s trading volume and market liquidity, and is generally lower if the Fund has high trading volume and market liquidity, and higher if the Fund has little trading volume and market liquidity (which is often the case for funds that are newly launched or small in size). The Fund's spread may also be impacted by the liquidity or illiquidity
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of the underlying securities held by the Fund, particularly for newly launched or smaller funds or in instances of significant volatility of the underlying securities.
The Board has adopted a policy of not monitoring for frequent purchases and redemptions of Fund shares (“frequent trading”) that appear to attempt to take advantage of a potential arbitrage opportunity presented by a lag between a change in the value of the Fund’s portfolio securities after the close of the primary markets for the Fund’s portfolio securities and the reflection of that change in the Fund’s NAV (“market timing”), because the Fund sells and redeems its shares directly through transactions that are in-kind and/or for cash, subject to the conditions described below under Creations and Redemptions. The Board has not adopted a policy of monitoring for other frequent trading activity because shares of the Fund are listed for trading on a national securities exchange.
The national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed is open for trading Monday through Friday and is closed on weekends and the following holidays (or the days on which they are observed): New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The Fund’s primary listing exchange is NYSE Arca.
Section 12(d)(1) of the 1940 Act restricts investments by investment companies, including foreign investment companies, in the securities of other investment companies. Registered investment companies are permitted to invest in the Fund beyond the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1), subject to certain terms and conditions set forth in SEC rules or in an SEC exemptive order issued to the 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. Foreign investment companies are permitted to invest in the Fund only up to the limits set forth in Section 12(d)(1), subject to any applicable SEC no-action relief.
Book Entry. Shares of the Fund are held in book-entry form, which means that no stock certificates are issued. The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) or its nominee is the record owner of, and holds legal title to, all outstanding shares of the Fund.
Investors owning shares of the Fund are beneficial owners as shown on the records of DTC or its participants. DTC serves as the securities depository for shares of the Fund. DTC participants include securities brokers and dealers, banks, trust companies, clearing corporations and other institutions that directly or indirectly maintain a custodial relationship with DTC. As a beneficial owner of shares, you are not entitled to receive physical delivery of stock certificates or to have shares registered in your name, and you are not considered a registered owner of shares. Therefore, to exercise any right as an owner of shares, you must rely upon the procedures of DTC and its participants. These procedures are the same as those that apply to any other securities that you hold in book-entry or “street name” form.
Share Prices. The trading prices of the Fund’s shares in the secondary market generally differ from the Fund’s daily NAV and are affected by market forces such as the supply of and demand for ETF shares and shares of underlying securities held by
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the Fund, economic conditions and other factors. Information regarding the intraday value of shares of the Fund, also known as the “indicative optimized portfolio value” (“IOPV”), is disseminated every 15 seconds throughout each trading day by the national securities exchange on which the Fund's shares are listed or by market data vendors or other information providers. The IOPV is based on the current market value of the securities or other assets and/or cash required to be deposited in exchange for a Creation Unit. The IOPV does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities or other assets held by the Fund at a particular point in time or the best possible valuation of the current portfolio. Therefore, the IOPV should not be viewed as a “real-time” update of the Fund's NAV, which is computed only once a day. The IOPV is generally determined by using both current market quotations and price quotations obtained from broker-dealers and other market intermediaries that may trade in the portfolio securities or other assets held by the Fund. The quotations of certain Fund holdings may not be updated during U.S. trading hours if such holdings do not trade in the U.S. The Fund is not involved in, or responsible for, the calculation or dissemination of the IOPV and makes no representation or warranty as to its accuracy.
Determination of Net Asset Value. The NAV of the Fund normally is determined once daily Monday through Friday, generally as of the regularly scheduled close of business of the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) (normally 4:00 p.m., Eastern time) on each day that the NYSE is open for trading, based on prices at the time of closing, provided that (i) any Fund assets or liabilities denominated in currencies other than the U.S. dollar are translated into U.S. dollars at the prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers (as detailed below) and (ii) U.S. fixed-income assets may be valued as of the announced closing time for trading in fixed-income instruments in a particular market or exchange. The NAV of the Fund is calculated by dividing the value of the net assets of the Fund (i.e., the value of its total assets less total liabilities) by the total number of outstanding shares of the Fund, generally rounded to the nearest cent.
The value of the securities and other assets and liabilities held by the Fund are determined pursuant to valuation policies and procedures approved by the Board.
Equity investments and other instruments for which market quotations are readily available, as well as investments in an underlying fund, if any, are valued at market value, which is generally determined using the last reported official closing price or, if a reported closing price is not available, the last traded price on the exchange or market on which the security is primarily traded at the time of valuation.
The Fund invests in non-U.S. securities. Foreign currency exchange rates with respect to the portfolio securities denominated in non-U.S. currencies are generally determined as of 4:00 p.m., London time. Non-U.S. securities held by the Fund may trade on weekends or other days when the Fund does not price its shares. As a result, 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
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various times prior to the close of business on the NYSE. The values of such securities used in computing the NAV of the Fund are determined as of such times.
When market quotations are not readily available or are believed by BFA to be unreliable, the Fund’s investments are valued at fair value. Fair value determinations are made by BFA in accordance with policies and procedures approved by the Board. BFA may conclude that a market quotation is not readily available or is unreliable if a security or other asset or liability does not have a price source due to its lack of trading or other reasons, if a market quotation differs significantly from recent price quotations or otherwise no longer appears to reflect fair value, where the security or other asset or liability is thinly traded, when there is a significant event subsequent to the most recent market quotation, or if the trading market on which a security is listed is suspended or closed and no appropriate alternative trading market is available. A “significant event” is deemed to occur if BFA determines, in its reasonable business judgment prior to or at the time of pricing the Fund’s assets or liabilities, that the event is likely to cause a material change to the closing market price of one or more assets or liabilities held by the Fund. Non-U.S. securities whose values are affected by volatility that occurs in the local markets or in related or highly correlated assets (e.g., American Depositary Receipts, Global Depositary Receipts or substantially identical ETFs) on a trading day after the close of non-U.S. securities markets may be fair valued.
Fair value represents a good faith approximation of the value of an asset or liability. The fair value of an asset or liability held by the Fund is the amount the Fund might reasonably expect to receive from the current sale of that asset or the cost to extinguish that liability in an arm’s-length transaction. Valuing the Fund’s investments using fair value pricing will result in prices that may differ from current market valuations and that may not be the prices at which those investments could have been sold during the period in which the particular fair values were used. Use of fair value prices and certain current market valuations could result in a difference between the prices used to calculate the Fund’s NAV and the prices used by the Underlying Index, which, in turn, could result in a difference between the Fund’s performance and the performance of the Underlying Index.
The value of assets or liabilities denominated in non-U.S. currencies will be converted into U.S. dollars using prevailing market rates on the date of valuation as quoted by one or more data service providers. Use of a rate different from the rate used by the Index Provider may adversely affect the Fund’s ability to track the Underlying Index.
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 (“RIC”) or to avoid imposition of income or excise taxes on undistributed income or realized gains.
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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. You should consult your own tax professional about the tax consequences of an investment in shares of the Fund.
Unless your investment in Fund shares is made through a tax-exempt entity or tax-deferred retirement account, such as an IRA, in which case your distributions generally will be taxable when withdrawn, you need to be aware of the possible tax consequences when the Fund makes distributions or you sell Fund shares.
Taxes on Distributions. Distributions from the Fund’s net investment income (other than qualified dividend income), including distributions of income from securities lending and distributions out of the Fund’s net short-term capital gains, if any, are taxable to you as ordinary income. Distributions by the Fund of net long-term capital gains, if any, in excess of net short-term capital losses (capital gain dividends) are taxable to you as long-term capital gains, regardless of how long you have held the Fund’s shares. Distributions by the Fund that qualify as qualified dividend income are taxable to you at long-term capital gain rates. Long-term capital gains and qualified dividend income are generally eligible for taxation at a maximum rate of 15% or 20% for non-corporate shareholders, depending on whether their income exceeds certain threshold amounts. In addition, a 3.8% U.S. federal Medicare contribution tax is imposed on “net investment income,” including, but not limited to, interest, dividends, and net gain, of U.S. individuals with income exceeding $200,000 (or $250,000 if married and filing jointly) and of estates and trusts.
Dividends will be qualified dividend income to you if they are attributable to qualified dividend income received by the Fund. Generally, qualified dividend income includes dividend income from taxable U.S. corporations and qualified non-U.S. corporations, provided that the Fund satisfies certain holding period requirements in respect of the stock of such corporations and has not hedged its position in the stock in certain ways. Substitute dividends received by the Fund with respect to dividends paid on securities lent out will not be qualified dividend income. For this purpose, a qualified non-U.S. corporation means any non-U.S. corporation that is eligible for benefits under a comprehensive income tax treaty with the U.S., which includes an exchange of information program, or if the stock with respect to which the dividend was paid is
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readily tradable on an established U.S. securities market. The term excludes a corporation that is a passive foreign investment company.
Dividends received by the Fund from a REIT or another RIC generally are qualified dividend income only to the extent such dividend distributions are made out of qualified dividend income received by such REIT or RIC. Additionally, it is expected that dividends received by the Fund from a REIT and distributed to a shareholder generally will be taxable to the shareholder as ordinary income. However, for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2026, the Fund may report dividends eligible for a 20% “qualified business income” deduction for non-corporate U.S. shareholders to the extent the Fund’s income is derived from ordinary REIT dividends, reduced by allocable Fund expenses.
For a dividend to be treated as qualified dividend income, the dividend must be received with respect to a share of stock held without being hedged by the Fund, and with respect to a share of the Fund held without being hedged by you, for 61 days during the 121-day period beginning at the date which is 60 days before the date on which such share becomes ex-dividend with respect to such dividend or, in the case of certain preferred stock, 91 days during the 181-day period beginning 90 days before such date.
In general, your distributions are subject to U.S. federal income tax for the year when they are paid. Certain distributions paid in January, however, may be treated as paid on December 31 of the prior year.
If the Fund’s distributions exceed current and accumulated earnings and profits, all or a portion of the distributions made in the taxable year may be recharacterized as a return of capital to shareholders. Distributions in excess of the Fund’s minimum distribution requirements, but not in excess of the Fund’s earnings and profits, will be taxable to shareholders and will not constitute nontaxable returns of capital. A return of capital distribution generally will not be taxable but will reduce the shareholder’s cost basis and result in a higher capital gain or lower capital loss when those shares on which the distribution was received are sold. Once a shareholder's cost basis is reduced to zero, further distributions will be treated as capital gain, if the shareholder holds shares of the Fund as capital assets.
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
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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. 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 your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending arrangement, you may lose the ability to treat Fund dividends paid while the shares are held by the borrower as qualified dividend income. In addition, you may lose the ability to use foreign tax credits passed through by the Fund if your Fund shares are loaned out pursuant to a securities lending agreement.
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.
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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) and a specified amount of cash approximating the holdings of the Fund in exchange for a specified number of Creation Units. To the extent practicable, the composition of such portfolio generally corresponds pro rata to the holdings of the Fund. However, creation and redemption baskets may differ. The Fund generally offers Creation Units partially for cash, but may, in certain circumstances, offer Creation Units solely for cash or solely in-kind.
Similarly, shares can be redeemed only in Creation Units, generally for a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) held by the Fund and a specified amount of cash. Except when aggregated in Creation Units, shares are not redeemable by the Fund.
The prices at which creations and redemptions occur are based on the next calculation of NAV after a creation or redemption order is received in an acceptable form under the authorized participant agreement.
Only an Authorized Participant may create or redeem Creation Units with the Fund. Authorized Participants may create or redeem Creation Units for their own accounts or for customers, including, without limitation, affiliates of the Fund.
In the event of a system failure or other interruption, including disruptions at market makers or Authorized Participants, orders to purchase or redeem Creation Units either may not be executed according to the Fund's instructions or may not be executed at all, or the Fund may not be able to place or change orders.
To the extent the Fund engages in in-kind transactions, the Fund intends to comply with the U.S. federal securities laws in accepting securities for deposit and satisfying redemptions with redemption securities by, among other means, assuring that any securities accepted for deposit and any securities used to satisfy redemption requests will be sold in transactions that would be exempt from registration under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”). Further, an Authorized Participant that is not a “qualified institutional buyer,” as such term is defined in Rule 144A under the 1933 Act, will not be able to receive restricted securities eligible for resale under Rule 144A.
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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, processing 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 and redemption transaction fees are charged on each Creation Unit created or redeemed, as applicable, by an Authorized Participant on the day of the transaction. The standard transaction fee is generally fixed at the amount shown in the table regardless of the number of Creation Units being purchased or redeemed, but may be reduced by the Fund if transfer and processing expenses associated with the creation or redemption are anticipated to be lower than the stated fee. If a purchase or redemption consists solely or partially of cash, the Authorized Participant may also be required to pay an additional transaction charge (up to the maximum amounts shown in the table below) to cover brokerage and certain other costs related to a creation or redemption transaction. Investors who use the services of a broker or other financial intermediary to acquire or dispose of Fund shares may pay fees for such services.
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The following table shows, as of May 31, 2019, 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*
$1,966,000   50,000   $3,000   7.0%   2.0%

* As a percentage of the net asset value per Creation Unit, inclusive, in the case of redemptions, of the standard redemption transaction fee.
If a purchase or redemption consists solely or partially of cash and the Fund places a brokerage transaction for portfolio securities with the Authorized Participant or its affiliated broker-dealer, the Authorized Participant (or an affiliated broker-dealer of the Authorized Participant) may be required, in its capacity as broker-dealer with respect to that transaction, to cover certain brokerage, tax, foreign exchange, execution, and price movement costs through a brokerage execution guarantee, as further described in the Fund’s SAI.
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 Dividend ETF
  Year Ended
04/30/19
  Year Ended
04/30/18
  Year Ended
04/30/17
  Year Ended
04/30/16
  Year Ended
04/30/15
Net asset value, beginning of year $ 41.91   $ 39.86   $ 33.87   $ 45.99   $ 48.33
Net investment income(a) 2.31   1.86   1.52   1.83   2.00
Net realized and unrealized gain (loss)(b) (1.33)   2.24   6.06   (12.13)   (2.45)
Net increase (decrease) from investment operations 0.98   4.10   7.58   (10.30)   (0.45)
Distributions (c)                  
From net investment income (2.22)   (2.05)   (1.59)   (1.76)   (1.89)
Return of capital       (0.06)  
Total distributions (2.22)   (2.05)   (1.59)   (1.82)   (1.89)
Net asset value, end of year $ 40.67   $ 41.91   $ 39.86   $ 33.87   $ 45.99
Total Return                  
Based on net asset value 2.68%   10.50%   23.22%   (22.45)%   (0.91)%
Ratios to Average Net Assets                  
Total expenses 0.49%   0.49%   0.52%   0.68%   0.68%
Total expenses after fees waived 0.49%   0.49%   0.49%   0.49%   0.49%
Net investment income 5.79%   4.42%   4.23%   5.31%   4.42%
Supplemental Data                  
Net assets, end of year (000) $571,435   $456,817   $298,932   $152,410   $211,562
Portfolio turnover rate(d) 69%   55%   68%   67%   59%

(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
SPDJI is the Index Provider for the Underlying Index and is not affiliated with the Company, BFA, State Street, the Distributor or any of their respective affiliates.
SPDJI is a resource for index-based concepts, data and research. SPDJI provides financial, economic and investment information and analytical services to the financial community. SPDJI calculates and maintains the S&P Global 1200TM, which includes the S&P 500® for the U.S., the S&P Europe 350TM for Continental Europe, Ireland and the United Kingdom, the S&P/TOPIX 150TM for Japan, the S&P Asia 50TM, the S&P/TSX 60TM for Canada, the S&P/ASX 50TM and the S&P Latin America 40TM. SPDJI also publishes the S&P MidCap 400®, S&P SmallCap 600®, S&P Total Market IndexTM and S&P U.S. REITTM for the U.S. SPDJI calculates and maintains the S&P Global Broad Market Index (BMI) Series, a set of rules-based equity benchmarks covering developed and emerging countries around the world. Company additions to and deletions from an S&P equity index do not in any way reflect an opinion on the investment merits of the company.
BFA or its affiliates have entered into a license agreement with SPDJI to use the Underlying Index. BFA or its affiliates sublicense rights in the Underlying Index to the Company at no charge.
Disclaimers
The Underlying Index is a product of SPDJI, and has been licensed for use by BFA or its affiliates. Standard & Poor’s® and S&P® are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC, a division of S&P Global (“S&P”); Dow Jones® is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC (“Dow Jones”); iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BFA and its affiliates; and these trademarks have been licensed for use by SPDJI and sublicensed for certain purposes by the Trust. The Fund is not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by SPDJI, Dow Jones, S&P, or any of their respective affiliates (collectively, “S&P Dow Jones Indices”). S&P Dow Jones Indices make 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 market performance. S&P Dow Jones Indices’ only relationship to the Company and BFA and their affiliates with respect to the Underlying Index is the licensing of the Underlying Index and certain trademarks, service marks and/or trade names of S&P Dow Jones Indices and/or its third party licensors. The Underlying Index is determined, composed and calculated by S&P Dow Jones Indices without regard to the Company, BFA or its affiliates or the Fund. S&P Dow Jones Indices have 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. S&P Dow Jones Indices are not responsible for and have 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, surrendered or redeemed, as the case may be. S&P Dow Jones Indices have no obligation or liability in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of shares of the Fund. There is no assurance that investment products based on the Underlying Index will accurately track index performance or
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provide positive investment returns. SPDJI is not an investment adviser. Inclusion of a security within an index is not a recommendation by S&P Dow Jones Indices to buy, sell, or hold such security, nor is it considered to be investment advice.
S&P DOW JONES INDICES DO NOT GUARANTEE THE ADEQUACY, ACCURACY, TIMELINESS AND/OR THE COMPLETENESS OF THE UNDERLYING INDEX OR ANY DATA RELATED THERETO OR ANY COMMUNICATION, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ORAL OR WRITTEN COMMUNICATION (INCLUDING ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS) WITH RESPECT THERETO. S&P DOW JONES INDICES SHALL NOT BE SUBJECT TO ANY DAMAGES OR LIABILITY FOR ANY ERRORS, OMISSIONS, OR DELAYS THEREIN. S&P DOW JONES INDICES MAKE NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, AND EXPRESSLY DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE OR 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 WITH RESPECT TO ANY DATA RELATED THERETO. WITHOUT LIMITING ANY OF THE FOREGOING, IN NO EVENT WHATSOEVER SHALL S&P DOW JONES INDICES BE LIABLE FOR ANY INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LOSS OF PROFITS, TRADING LOSSES, LOST TIME OR GOODWILL, EVEN IF THEY HAVE BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR OTHERWISE. THERE ARE NO THIRD PARTY BENEFICIARIES OF ANY AGREEMENTS OR ARRANGEMENTS BETWEEN S&P DOW JONES INDICES AND BFA OR ITS AFFILIATES, OTHER THAN THE LICENSORS OF S&P DOW JONES INDICES.
Shares of the Fund are not sponsored, endorsed or promoted by NYSE Arca. NYSE Arca makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or any member of the public regarding the ability of the Fund to track the total return performance of the Underlying Index or the ability of the Underlying Index to track stock market performance. NYSE Arca is not responsible for, nor has it participated in, the determination of the compilation or the calculation of the Underlying Index, nor in the determination of the timing of, prices of, or quantities of shares of the Fund to be issued, nor in the determination or calculation of the equation by which the shares are redeemable. NYSE Arca has no obligation or liability to owners of shares of the Fund in connection with the administration, marketing or trading of shares of the Fund.
NYSE Arca does not guarantee the accuracy and/or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. NYSE Arca makes no warranty, express or implied, as to results to be obtained by the Company on behalf of the Fund as licensee, licensee’s customers and counterparties, owners of shares of the Fund, or any other person or entity from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein in connection with the rights licensed as described herein or for any other use. NYSE Arca makes no express or implied warranties and hereby expressly disclaims all warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose with respect to the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall NYSE Arca have any liability for any direct, indirect,
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special, punitive, consequential or any other damages (including lost profits) even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
The past performance of the Underlying Index is not a guide to future performance. BFA and its affiliates do not guarantee the accuracy or the completeness of the Underlying Index or any data included therein and BFA and its affiliates shall have no liability for any errors, omissions or interruptions therein. BFA and its affiliates make no warranty, express or implied, to the owners of shares of the Fund or to any other person or entity, as to results to be obtained by the Fund from the use of the Underlying Index or any data included therein. Without limiting any of the foregoing, in no event shall BFA or its affiliates have any liability for any special, punitive, direct, indirect, consequential or any other damages (including lost profits), even if notified of the possibility of such damages.
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Supplemental Information
I. Premium/Discount Information
The table that follows presents information about the differences between the daily market price on secondary markets for shares of the Fund and the Fund’s NAV. NAV is the price at which the Fund issues and redeems shares. It is calculated in accordance with the standard formula for valuing mutual fund shares. The price used to calculate market returns (“Market Price”) of the Fund generally is determined using the midpoint between the highest bid and the lowest ask on the primary securities exchange on which shares of the Fund are listed for trading, as of the time that the Fund’s NAV is calculated. The Fund’s Market Price may be at, above or below its NAV. The NAV of the Fund will fluctuate with changes in the value of its portfolio holdings. The Market Price of the Fund will fluctuate in accordance with changes in its NAV, as well as market supply and demand.
Premiums or discounts are the differences (expressed as a percentage) between the NAV and Market Price of the Fund on a given day, generally at the time the NAV is calculated. A premium is the amount that the Fund is trading above the reported NAV, expressed as a percentage of the NAV. A discount is the amount that the Fund is trading below the reported NAV, expressed as a percentage of the NAV.
The following information shows the frequency of distributions of premiums and discounts for the Fund for each full calendar quarter of 2018 and the first two calendar quarters of 2019.
Each line in the table shows the number of trading days in which the Fund traded within the premium/discount range indicated. Premium/discount ranges with no trading days are omitted. The number of trading days in each premium/discount range is also shown as a percentage of the total number of trading days in the period covered by the table. All data presented here represents past performance, which cannot be used to predict future results.
Premium/Discount Range   Number of Days   Percentage of Total Days
Greater than 2.5% and Less than 3.0%   1   0.27%
Greater than 2.0% and Less than 2.5%   1   0.27
Greater than 1.5% and Less than 2.0%   4   1.07
Greater than 1.0% and Less than 1.5%   16   4.27
Greater than 0.5% and Less than 1.0%   49   13.07
Greater than 0.0% and Less than 0.5%   125   33.33
Less than 0.0% and Greater than -0.5%   104   27.73
Less than -0.5% and Greater than -1.0%   56   14.93
Less than -1.0% and Greater than -1.5%   14   3.73
Less than -1.5% and Greater than -2.0%   3   0.80
Less than -2.5% and Greater than -3.0%   2   0.53
    375   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 April 30, 2019.
“Average Annual Total Returns” represents the average annual change in value of an investment over the periods indicated. “Cumulative Total Returns” represents the total change in value of an investment over the periods indicated.
The Fund’s NAV is the value of one share of the Fund as calculated in accordance with the standard formula for valuing mutual fund shares. The NAV return is based on the NAV of the Fund and the market return is based on the Market Price of the Fund. Market Price generally is determined by using the midpoint between the highest bid and the lowest ask on the primary stock exchange on which shares of the Fund are listed for trading, as of the time that the Fund's NAV is calculated. 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 April 30, 2019
  Average Annual Total Returns   Cumulative Total Returns
  1 Year 5 Years Since
Inception
  1 Year 5 Years Since
Inception
Fund NAV 2.68% 1.45% 0.53%   2.68% 7.44% 3.89%
Fund Market 3.95 1.35 0.55   3.95 6.92 4.02
Index 2.70 1.55 0.52   2.70 7.97 3.78
  
  The inception date of the Fund was 2/23/12. The first day of secondary market trading was 2/24/12.
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Want to know more?
iShares.com     |    1-800-474-2737
Copies of the Prospectus, SAI and recent shareholder reports can be found on our website at www.iShares.com. For more information about the Fund, you may request a copy of the SAI. The SAI provides detailed information about the Fund and is incorporated by reference into this Prospectus. This means that the SAI, for legal purposes, is a part of this Prospectus.
Additional information about the Fund's investments is available in the Fund's Annual and Semi-Annual Reports to shareholders. In the Fund's Annual Report, you will find a discussion of the market conditions and investment strategies that significantly affected the Fund's performance during the last fiscal year.
If you have any questions about the 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-DVYE-0819


iShares®, Inc.
Statement of Additional Information
Dated August 30, 2019
This Statement of Additional Information (“SAI”) is not a prospectus. It should be read in conjunction with the current prospectus (the “Prospectus”) for the following series of iShares, Inc. (the “Company”):
Fund   Ticker   Listing Exchange
iShares Asia/Pacific Dividend ETF (the “Fund”)   DVYA   NYSE Arca
The Prospectus for the Fund is dated August 30, 2019, as amended and supplemented from time to time. Capitalized terms used herein that are not defined have the same meaning as in the Prospectus, unless otherwise noted. The Financial Statements and Notes contained in the Annual Report and Semi-Annual Report of the Company for the Fund are incorporated by reference into and are deemed to be part of this SAI. A copy of the Prospectus, Annual Report and Semi-Annual Report for the Fund may be obtained without charge by writing to the Company’s distributor, BlackRock Investments, LLC (the “Distributor” or “BRIL”), 1 University Square Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540, calling 1-800-iShares (1-800-474-2737) or visiting www.iShares.com. The Fund's Prospectus is incorporated by reference into this SAI.
References to the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “Investment Company Act” or the “1940 Act”), or other applicable law, will include any rules promulgated thereunder and any guidance, interpretations or modifications by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), SEC staff or other authority with appropriate jurisdiction, including court interpretations, and exemptive, no action or other relief or permission from the SEC, SEC staff or other authority.
iShares® and BlackRock® are registered trademarks of BlackRock Fund Advisors and its affiliates.

 


TABLE OF CONTENTS
  Page
General Description of the Company and the Fund 1
Exchange Listing and Trading 1
Investment Strategies and Risks 2
Borrowing 2
Currency Transactions 3
Diversification Status 3
Futures, Options on Futures and Securities Options 3
Lending Portfolio Securities 4
Liquidity Risk Management 5
Non-U.S. Securities 5
Regulation Regarding Derivatives 6
Repurchase Agreements 6
Reverse Repurchase Agreements 7
Securities of Investment Companies 7
Short-Term Instruments and Temporary Investments 7
Swap Agreements 8
Tracking Stocks 8
Future Developments 8
General Considerations and Risks 8
Borrowing Risk 8
Dividend-Paying Stock Risk 8
Illiquid Investments Risk 8
Operational Risk 9
Risk of Derivatives 9
Risk of Equity Securities 9
Risk of Futures and Options on Futures Transactions 9
Risk of Investing in Non-U.S. Equity Securities 10
Risk of Swap Agreements 10
Risk of Investing in Asia 11
Risk of Investing in Australasia 11
Risk of Investing in Australia 11
Risk of Investing in Developed Countries 12
U.S. Economic Trading Partners Risk 12
Risk of Investing in the Basic Materials Industry 12
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Goods Industry 12
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Services Industry 13
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  Page
Risk of Investing in the Financials Sector 13
Risk of Investing in the Industrials Sector 13
Risk of Investing in the Oil and Gas Industry 14
Risk of Investing in the Technology Sector 14
Risk of Investing in the Telecommunications Sector 14
Risk of Investing in the Utilities Sector 15
Proxy Voting Policy 15
Portfolio Holdings Information 15
Construction and Maintenance of the Underlying Index 16
The Dow Jones Asia/Pacific Select Dividend 30 Index 17
Investment Policies 17
Fundamental Investment Policies 18
Non-Fundamental Investment Policies 18
Continuous Offering 19
Management 19
Directors and Officers 19
Committees of the Board of Directors 26
Remuneration of Directors and Advisory Board Members 30
Control Persons and Principal Holders of Securities 31
Potential Conflicts of Interest 32
Legal Proceedings 40
Investment Advisory, Administrative and Distribution Services 40
Investment Adviser 40
Portfolio Managers 41
Codes of Ethics 44
Anti-Money Laundering Requirements 44
Administrator, Custodian and Transfer Agent 44
Distributor 45
Securities Lending 45
Payments by BFA and its Affiliates 47
Determination of Net Asset Value 48
Brokerage Transactions 51
Additional Information Concerning the Company 54
Capital Stock 54
Termination of the Company or the Fund 55
DTC as Securities Depository for Shares of the Fund 56
Distribution of Shares 56
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  Page
Creation and Redemption of Creation Units 57
General 57
Fund Deposit 57
Cash Purchase Method 58
Procedures for Creation of Creation Units 58
Role of the Authorized Participant 58
Purchase Orders 58
Timing of Submission of Purchase Orders 59
Acceptance of Orders for Creation Units 59
Issuance of a Creation Unit 59
Costs Associated with Creation Transactions 60
Redemption of Creation Units 60
Cash Redemption Method 61
Costs Associated with Redemption Transactions 61
Placement of Redemption Orders 62
Taxation on Creations and Redemptions of Creation Units 63
Taxes 63
Regulated Investment Company Qualifications 64
Taxation of RICs 64
Excise Tax 65
Net Capital Loss Carryforwards 65
Taxation of U.S. Shareholders 65
Sales of Shares 66
Backup Withholding 67
Sections 351 and 362 67
Taxation of Certain Derivatives 67
Qualified Dividend Income 67
Corporate Dividends Received Deduction 68
Excess Inclusion Income 68
Non-U.S. Investments 69
Passive Foreign Investment Companies 69
Reporting 70
Other Taxes 70
Taxation of Non-U.S. Shareholders 70
Financial Statements 71
Miscellaneous Information 71
Counsel 71
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General Description of the Company and the Fund
The Company currently consists of more than 50 investment series or portfolios. The Company was organized as a Maryland corporation on September 1, 1994 and is authorized to have multiple series or portfolios. The Company is an open-end management investment company registered with the SEC under the 1940 Act. The offering of the Company's shares is registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”). This SAI relates solely to the Fund.
The Fund is managed by BlackRock Fund Advisors (“BFA”), an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of BlackRock, Inc., and generally seeks to track the investment results of the specific benchmark index identified in the Fund's Prospectus (the “Underlying Index”).
The Fund offers and issues shares at their net asset value per share (“NAV”) only in aggregations of a specified number of shares (each, a “Creation Unit”), generally in exchange for a designated portfolio of securities (including any portion of such securities for which cash may be substituted) included in its Underlying Index (the “Deposit Securities”), together with the deposit of a specified cash payment (the “Cash Component”). Shares of the Fund are listed for trading on NYSE Arca, Inc. (“NYSE Arca” or the “Listing Exchange”), a national securities exchange. Shares of the Fund are traded in the secondary market and elsewhere at market prices that may be at, above or below the Fund's NAV. Shares are redeemable only in Creation Units by Authorized Participants (as defined below), and, generally, in exchange for portfolio securities and a Cash Amount (as defined in the Redemption of Creation Units section of this SAI). Creation Units typically are a specified number of shares, generally 50,000 or multiples thereof.
The Company reserves the right to permit or require that creations and redemptions of shares are effected fully or partially in cash and reserves the right to permit or require the substitution of Deposit Securities in lieu of cash. Shares may be issued in advance of receipt of Deposit Securities, subject to various conditions, including a requirement that the Authorized Participant maintain with the Company a cash deposit equal to at least 105% and up to 122%, which percentage BFA may change from time to time, of the market value of the omitted Deposit Securities. The Company may use such cash deposit at any time to purchase Deposit Securities. See the Creation and Redemption of Creation Units section of this SAI. Transaction fees and other costs associated with creations or redemptions that include a cash portion may be higher than the transaction fees and other costs associated with in-kind creations or redemptions. In all cases, conditions with respect to creations and redemptions of shares and fees will be limited in accordance with the requirements of SEC rules and regulations applicable to management investment companies offering redeemable securities.
Exchange Listing and Trading
A discussion of exchange listing and trading matters associated with an investment in the Fund is contained in the Shareholder Information section of the Fund's Prospectus. The discussion below supplements, and should be read in conjunction with, that section of the Prospectus.
Shares of the Fund are listed for trading, and trade throughout the day, on the Listing Exchange and in other secondary markets. Shares of the Fund may also be listed on certain non-U.S. exchanges. There can be no assurance that the requirements of the Listing Exchange necessary to maintain the listing of shares of the Fund will continue to be met. The Listing Exchange may, but is not required to, remove the shares of the Fund from listing if, among other things: (i) following the initial 12-month period beginning upon the commencement of trading of Fund shares, there are fewer than 50 record and/or beneficial owners of shares of the Fund for 30 or more consecutive trading days, (ii) the value of the Underlying Index on which the Fund is based is no longer calculated or available, or (iii) any other event shall occur or condition shall exist that, in the opinion of the Listing Exchange, makes further dealings on the Listing Exchange inadvisable. The Listing Exchange will also remove shares of the Fund from listing and trading upon termination of the Fund or in the event the Fund does not comply with the continuous listing standards of the Listing Exchange, as described in the Fund’s Prospectus.
As in the case of other publicly-traded securities, when you buy or sell shares of the Fund through a broker, you may incur a brokerage commission determined by that broker, as well as other charges.
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In order to provide additional information regarding the indicative value of shares of the Fund, the Listing Exchange or a market data vendor disseminates information every 15 seconds through the facilities of the Consolidated Tape Association, or through other widely disseminated means, an updated indicative optimized portfolio value (“IOPV”) for the Fund as calculated by an information provider or market data vendor. The Company is not involved in or responsible for any aspect of the calculation or dissemination of the IOPV and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the IOPV.
An IOPV has an equity securities component and a cash component. The equity securities values included in an IOPV are the values of the Deposit Securities for the Fund. While the IOPV reflects the current value of the Deposit Securities required to be deposited in connection with the purchase of a Creation Unit, it does not necessarily reflect the precise composition of the current portfolio of securities held by the Fund at a particular point in time because the current portfolio of the Fund may include securities that are not a part of the current Deposit Securities. Therefore, the Fund’s IOPV disseminated during the Listing Exchange trading hours should not be viewed as a real-time update of the Fund’s NAV, which is calculated only once a day.
The cash component included in an IOPV consists of estimated accrued interest, dividends and other income, less expenses. If applicable, each IOPV also reflects changes in currency exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and the applicable currency.
The Company reserves the right to adjust the share prices of the Fund in the future to maintain convenient trading ranges for investors. Any adjustments would be accomplished through stock splits or reverse stock splits, which would have no effect on the net assets of the Fund or an investor's equity interest in the Fund.
Investment Strategies and Risks
The Fund seeks to achieve its objective by investing primarily in securities issued by issuers that comprise its Underlying Index and in investments that provide substantially similar exposure to securities in the Underlying Index. The Fund operates as an index fund and is not actively managed. Adverse performance of a security in the Fund’s portfolio will ordinarily not result in the elimination of the security from the Fund’s portfolio.
The Fund engages in representative sampling, which is investing in a sample of securities selected by BFA to have a collective investment profile similar to that of the Fund's Underlying Index. Securities selected have aggregate investment characteristics (based on market capitalization and industry weightings), fundamental characteristics (such as return variability, earnings valuation and yield) and liquidity measures similar to those of the Fund’s Underlying Index. A fund that uses representative sampling generally does not hold all of the securities that are in its underlying index.
Although the Fund does not seek leveraged returns, certain instruments used by the Fund may have a leveraging effect as described below.
Borrowing.  The Fund may borrow for temporary or emergency purposes, including to meet payments due from redemptions or to facilitate the settlement of securities or other transactions. Under normal market conditions, any borrowing by the Fund will not exceed 10% of the Fund’s net assets; however, the Fund generally does not intend to borrow money.
The purchase of securities while borrowings are outstanding may have the effect of leveraging the Fund. The incurrence of leverage increases the Fund’s exposure to risk, and borrowed funds are subject to interest costs that will reduce net income. Purchasing securities while borrowings are outstanding creates special risks, such as the potential for greater volatility in the net asset value of Fund shares and in the yield on the Fund’s portfolio. In addition, the interest expenses from borrowings may exceed the income generated by the Fund’s portfolio and, therefore, the amount available (if any) for distribution to shareholders as dividends may be reduced. BFA may determine to maintain outstanding borrowings if it expects that the benefits to the Fund’s shareholders will outweigh the current reduced return.
Certain types of borrowings by the Fund must be made from a bank or may result in the Fund being subject to covenants in credit agreements relating to asset coverage, portfolio composition requirements and other matters. It is not anticipated that observance of such covenants would impede BFA’s management of the Fund’s portfolio in accordance with the Fund’s investment objectives and policies. However, a breach of any such covenants not cured within the specified cure period may result in acceleration of outstanding indebtedness and require the Fund to dispose of portfolio investments at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so.
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Currency Transactions.  A currency forward contract is an over-the-counter (“OTC”) obligation to purchase or sell a specific currency at a future date, which may be any fixed number of days greater than two days from the date on which the contract is agreed upon by the parties, at a price set at the time of the contract. A non-deliverable currency forward is an OTC currency forward settled in a specified currency, on a specified date, based on the difference between the agreed-upon exchange rate and the market exchange rate. A currency futures contract is a contract that trades on an organized futures exchange involving an obligation to deliver or acquire a specified amount of a specific currency, at a specified price and at a specified future time. Currency futures contracts may be settled on a net cash payment basis rather than by the sale and delivery of the underlying currency. To the extent required by law, liquid assets committed to futures contracts will be maintained. The Fund does not expect to engage in currency transactions for the purpose of hedging against declines in the value of the Fund's assets that are denominated in a non-U.S. currency. The Fund may enter into non-U.S. currency forward and non-U.S. currency futures transactions to facilitate local securities settlements or to protect against currency exposure in connection with its distributions to shareholders, but may not enter into such contracts for speculative purposes.
Foreign exchange transactions involve a significant degree of risk and the markets in which foreign exchange transactions are effected may be highly volatile, highly specialized and highly technical. Significant changes, including changes in liquidity and prices, can occur in such markets within very short periods of time, often within minutes. Foreign exchange trading risks include, but are not limited to, exchange rate risk, counterparty risk, maturity gap, interest rate risk, and potential interference by foreign governments through regulation of local exchange markets, foreign investment or particular transactions in non-U.S. currency. If BFA utilizes foreign exchange transactions at an inappropriate time or judges market conditions, trends or correlations incorrectly, foreign exchange transactions may not serve their intended purpose of improving the correlation of the Fund's return with the performance of the Underlying Index and may lower the Fund’s return. The Fund could experience losses if the value of its currency forwards, options or futures positions were poorly correlated with its other investments or if it could not close out its positions because of an illiquid market or otherwise. In addition, the Fund could incur transaction costs, including trading commissions, in connection with certain non-U.S. currency transactions.
Diversification Status.  The Fund is classified as a diversified fund under the 1940 Act. This means that the Fund may not purchase securities of an issuer (other than (i) obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities and (ii) securities of other investment companies) if, with respect to 75% of its total assets, (a) more than 5% of the Fund’s total assets would be invested in securities of that issuer or (b) the Fund would hold more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of that issuer. With respect to the remaining 25% of its total assets, the Fund may invest more than 5% of its assets in one issuer. Under the 1940 Act, the Fund cannot change its classification from diversified to non-diversified without shareholder approval.
The Fund intends to maintain the required level of diversification and otherwise conduct its operations so as to qualify as a regulated investment company (“RIC”) for purposes of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Internal Revenue Code”), and to relieve the Fund of any liability for U.S. federal income tax to the extent that its earnings are distributed to shareholders, provided that the Fund satisfies a minimum distribution requirement. Compliance with the diversification requirements of the Internal Revenue Code may limit the investment flexibility of the Fund and may make it less likely that the Fund will meet its investment objective.
Futures, Options on Futures and Securities Options.  Futures contracts, options on futures and securities options may be used by the Fund to simulate investment in its Underlying Index, to facilitate trading or to reduce transaction costs. The Fund may enter into futures contracts and options on futures that are traded on a U.S. or non-U.S. futures exchange. The Fund will not use futures, options on futures or securities options for speculative purposes. The Fund intends to use futures and options on futures in accordance with Rule 4.5 of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) promulgated under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”). BFA, with respect to the Fund, has claimed an exclusion from the definition of the term “commodity pool operator” in accordance with Rule 4.5 so that BFA, with respect to the Fund, is not subject to registration or regulation as a commodity pool operator under the CEA. See the Regulation Regarding Derivatives section of this SAI for more information.
Futures contracts provide for the future sale by one party and purchase by another party of a specified amount of a specific instrument or index at a specified future time and at a specified price. Stock index contracts are based on investments that reflect the market value of common stock of the firms included in the investments. The Fund may enter into futures contracts to purchase securities indexes when BFA anticipates purchasing the underlying securities and believes prices will rise before the purchase will be made. Upon entering into a futures contract, the Fund will be required to deposit with the broker an amount of cash or cash equivalents known as “initial margin,” which is similar to a performance bond or good faith
3

 


deposit on the contract and is returned to the Fund upon termination of the futures contract if all contractual obligations have been satisfied. Subsequent payments, known as “variation margin,” will be made to and from the broker daily as the price of the instrument or index underlying the futures contract fluctuates, making the long and short positions in the futures contract more or less valuable, a process known as “marking-to-market.” At any time prior to the expiration of a futures contract, the Fund may elect to close the position by taking an opposite position, which will operate to terminate the Fund’s existing position in the contract. To the extent required by law, the Fund will segregate liquid assets in an amount equal to its delivery obligations under the futures contracts. An option on a futures contract, as contrasted with a direct investment in such a contract, gives the purchaser the right, but no obligation, in return for the premium paid, to assume a position in the underlying futures contract at a specified exercise price at any time prior to the expiration date of the option. Upon exercise of an option, the delivery of the futures position by the writer of the option to the holder of the option will be accompanied by delivery of the accumulated balance in the writer’s futures margin account that represents the amount by which the market price of the futures contract exceeds (in the case of a call) or is less than (in the case of a put) the exercise price of the option on the futures contract. The potential for loss related to the purchase of an option on a futures contract is limited to the premium paid for the option plus transaction costs. Because the value of the option is fixed at the point of sale, there are no daily cash payments by the purchaser to reflect changes in the value of the underlying contract; however, the value of the option changes daily and that change would be reflected in the NAV of the Fund. The potential for loss related to writing call options is unlimited. The potential for loss related to writing put options is limited to the agreed-upon price per share, also known as the “strike price,” less the premium received from writing the put. The Fund may purchase and write put and call options on futures contracts that are traded on an exchange as a hedge against changes in value of its portfolio securities or in anticipation of the purchase of securities, and may enter into closing transactions with respect to such options to terminate existing positions. There is no guarantee that such closing transactions can be effected.
Securities options may be used by the Fund to obtain access to securities in the Underlying Index or to dispose of securities in the Underlying Index at favorable prices, to invest cash in a securities index that offers similar exposure to that provided by the Underlying Index or otherwise to achieve the Fund’s objective of tracking the Underlying Index. A call option gives a holder the right to purchase a specific security at a specified price (“exercise price”) within a specified period of time. A put option gives a holder the right to sell a specific security at an exercise price within a specified period of time. The initial purchaser of a call option pays the “writer” a premium, which is paid at the time of purchase and is retained by the writer whether or not such option is exercised. The Fund may purchase put options to hedge its portfolio against the risk of a decline in the market value of securities held and may purchase call options to hedge against an increase in the price of securities it is committed to purchase. The Fund may write put and call options along with a long position in options to increase its ability to hedge against a change in the market value of the securities it holds or is committed to purchase. The Fund may purchase or sell securities options on a U.S. or non-U.S. securities exchange or in the OTC market through a transaction with a dealer. Options on a securities index are typically settled on a net basis based on the appreciation or depreciation of the index level over the strike price. Options on single name securities may be cash- or physically-settled, depending upon the market in which they are traded. Options may be structured so as to be exercisable only on certain dates or on a daily basis. Options may also be structured to have conditions to exercise (i.e., “Knock-in Events”) or conditions that trigger termination (i.e., “Knock-out Events”). Investments in futures contracts and other investments that contain leverage may require the Fund to maintain liquid assets in an amount equal to its delivery obligations under these contracts and other investments. Generally, the Fund maintains an amount of liquid assets equal to its obligations relative to the position involved, adjusted daily on a marked-to-market basis. With respect to futures contracts that are contractually required to “cash-settle,” the Fund maintains liquid assets in an amount at least equal to the Fund’s daily marked-to-market obligation (i.e., the Fund’s daily net liability, if any), rather than the contracts’ notional value (i.e., the value of the underlying asset). By maintaining assets equal to its net obligation under cash-settled futures contracts, the Fund may employ leverage to a greater extent than if the Fund were required to set aside assets equal to the futures contracts’ full notional value. The Fund bases its asset maintenance policies on methods permitted by the SEC and its staff and may modify these policies in the future to comply with any changes in the guidance articulated from time to time by the SEC or its staff. Changes in SEC guidance regarding the use of derivatives by registered investment companies may adversely impact the Fund’s ability to invest in futures, options or other derivatives or make investments in such instruments more expensive.
Lending Portfolio Securities.  The Fund may lend portfolio securities to certain borrowers that BFA determines to be creditworthy, including borrowers affiliated with BFA. The borrowers provide collateral that is maintained in an amount at least equal to the current market value of the securities loaned. No securities loan shall be made on behalf of the Fund if, as a result, the aggregate value of all securities loaned by the Fund exceeds one-third of the value of the Fund's total assets
4


(including the value of the collateral received). The Fund may terminate a loan at any time and obtain the return of the securities loaned. The Fund receives, by way of substitute payment, the value of any interest or cash or non-cash distributions paid on the loaned securities that it would have received if the securities were not on loan.
With respect to loans that are collateralized by cash, the borrower may be entitled to receive a fee based on the amount of cash collateral. The Fund is typically compensated by the difference between the amount earned on the reinvestment of cash collateral and the fee paid to the borrower. In the case of collateral other than cash, the Fund is typically compensated by a fee paid by the borrower equal to a percentage of the market value of the loaned securities. Any cash collateral may be reinvested in certain short-term instruments either directly on behalf of the lending Fund or through one or more joint accounts or money market funds, including those affiliated with BFA; such investments are subject to investment risk.
The Fund conducts its securities lending pursuant to an exemptive order from the SEC permitting it to lend portfolio securities to borrowers affiliated with the Fund and to retain an affiliate of the Fund to act as securities lending agent. To the extent that the Fund engages in securities lending, BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A. (“BTC”) acts as securities lending agent for the Fund, subject to the overall supervision of BFA. BTC administers the lending program in accordance with guidelines approved by the Company's Board of Directors (the “Board,” the directors of which are the “Directors”).
Securities lending involves exposure to certain risks, including operational risk (i.e., the risk of losses resulting from problems in the settlement and accounting process), “gap” risk (i.e., the risk of a mismatch between the return on cash collateral reinvestments and the fees the Fund has agreed to pay a borrower), and credit, legal, counterparty and market risk. If a securities lending counterparty were to default, the Fund would be subject to the risk of a possible delay in receiving collateral or in recovering the loaned securities, or to a possible loss of rights in the collateral. In the event a borrower does not return the Fund’s securities as agreed, the Fund may experience losses if the proceeds received from liquidating the collateral do not at least equal the value of the loaned security at the time the collateral is liquidated, plus the transaction costs incurred in purchasing replacement securities. This event could trigger adverse tax consequences for the Fund. The Fund could lose money if its short-term investment of the collateral declines in value over the period of the loan. Substitute payments received by the Fund representing dividends paid on securities loaned out by the Fund will not be considered qualified dividend income. BTC will take into account the tax effects on shareholders caused by this difference in connection with the Fund’s securities lending program. Substitute payments received on tax-exempt securities loaned out will not be tax-exempt income.
Liquidity Risk Management.  Rule 22e-4 under the Investment Company Act (the “Liquidity Rule”) requires open-end funds, including exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”) such as the Fund, to establish a liquidity risk management program (the “Liquidity Program”) and enhance disclosures regarding fund liquidity. As required by the Liquidity Rule, the Fund has implemented a Liquidity Program, and the Board, including a majority of the Independent Directors of the Fund, has appointed BFA as the administrator of the Liquidity Program. Under the Liquidity Program, BFA assesses, manages, and periodically reviews the Fund’s liquidity risk and classifies each investment held by the Fund as a “highly liquid investment,” “moderately liquid investment,” “less liquid investment” or “illiquid investment.” The Liquidity Rule defines “liquidity risk” as the risk that the Fund could not meet requests to redeem shares issued by the Fund without significant dilution of the remaining investors’ interest in the Fund. The liquidity of the Fund's portfolio investments is determined based on relevant market, trading and investment-specific considerations under the Liquidity Program. There are exclusions from certain portions of the liquidity risk management program requirements for “in-kind” ETFs, as defined in the Liquidity Rule. To the extent that an investment is deemed to be an illiquid investment or a less liquid investment, the Fund can expect to be exposed to greater liquidity risk.
Non-U.S. Securities.  The Fund intends to purchase publicly-traded common stocks of non-U.S. issuers. To the extent the Fund invests in stocks of non-U.S. issuers, the Fund's investment in such stocks may be in the form of American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”), Global Depositary Receipts (“GDRs”) and European Depositary Receipts (“EDRs”) (collectively, “depositary receipts”). Depositary receipts are receipts, typically issued by a bank or trust issuer, which evidence ownership of underlying securities issued by a non-U.S. issuer. Depositary receipts may not necessarily be denominated in the same currency as their underlying securities. ADRs typically are issued by an American bank or trust company and evidence ownership of underlying securities issued by a foreign corporation. EDRs, which are sometimes referred to as continental depositary receipts, are receipts issued in Europe, typically by foreign banks and trust companies, that evidence ownership of either foreign or domestic underlying securities. GDRs are depositary receipts structured like global debt issues to facilitate trading on an international basis. Generally, ADRs, issued in registered form, are designed for use in the U.S. securities markets, and EDRs, issued in bearer form, are designed for use in European securities markets. GDRs are tradable both in the U.S. and in Europe and are designed for use throughout the world.
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The Fund will not invest in any unlisted depositary receipt or any depositary receipt that BFA deems illiquid at the time of purchase or for which pricing information is not readily available. In general, depositary receipts must be sponsored, but the Fund may invest in unsponsored depositary receipts under certain limited circumstances.
Depositary receipts are generally subject to the same risks as the foreign securities that they evidence or into which they may be converted. In addition to investment risks associated with the underlying issuer, depositary receipts expose the Fund to additional risks associated with the non-uniform terms that apply to depositary receipt programs, credit exposure to the depository bank and to the sponsors and other parties with whom the depository bank establishes the programs, currency risk and liquidity risk. Unsponsored programs, which are not sanctioned by the issuer of the underlying common stock, generally expose investors to greater risks than sponsored programs and do not provide holders with many of the shareholder benefits that come from investing in a sponsored depositary receipts.
Investing in the securities of non-U.S. issuers involves special risks and considerations not typically associated with investing in U.S. issuers. These include differences in accounting, auditing and financial reporting standards; the possibility of expropriation or confiscatory taxation; adverse changes in investment or exchange control regulations; political instability, which could affect U.S. investments in non-U.S. countries; and potential restrictions on the flow of international capital. Non-U.S. issuers may be subject to less governmental regulation than U.S. issuers. Moreover, individual non-U.S. economies may differ favorably or unfavorably from the U.S. economy in such respects as growth of gross domestic product (“GDP”), rate of inflation, capital reinvestment, resource self-sufficiency and balance of payment positions.
Regulation Regarding Derivatives.  The CFTC subjects advisers to registered investment companies to regulation by the CFTC if a fund that is advised by the adviser either (i) invests, directly or indirectly, more than a prescribed level of its liquidation value in CFTC-regulated futures, options and swaps (“CFTC Derivatives”), or (ii) markets itself as providing investment exposure to such instruments. The CFTC also subjects advisers to registered investment companies to regulation by the CFTC if the registered investment company invests in one or more commodity pools. To the extent the Fund uses CFTC Derivatives, it intends to do so below such prescribed levels and intends not to market itself as a “commodity pool” or a vehicle for trading such instruments.
BFA has claimed an exclusion from the definition of the term “commodity pool operator” under the CEA pursuant to Rule 4.5 under the CEA with respect to the Fund. BFA is not, therefore, subject to registration or regulation as a “commodity pool operator” under the CEA with respect to the Fund.
Derivative contracts, including, without limitation, swaps, currency forwards, and non-deliverable forwards, are subject to regulation under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) in the U.S. and under comparable regimes in Europe, Asia and other non-U.S. jurisdictions. Swaps, non-deliverable forwards and certain other derivatives traded in the OTC market are subject to variation margin requirements, and initial margining requirements will be phased in through 2020. Implementation of the margining and other provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act regarding clearing, mandatory trading, reporting and documentation of swaps and other derivatives have impacted and may continue to impact the costs to the Fund of trading these instruments and, as a result, may affect returns to investors in the Fund.
As a result of regulatory requirements under the 1940 Act, the Fund is required to maintain an amount of liquid assets, accrued on a daily basis, having an aggregate value at least equal to the value of the Fund’s obligations under the applicable derivatives contract. To the extent that derivatives contracts are settled on a physical basis, the Fund will generally be required to maintain an amount of liquid assets equal to the notional value of the contract. On the other hand, in connection with derivatives contracts that are performed on a net basis, the Fund will generally be required to maintain liquid assets, accrued daily, equal only to the accrued excess, if any, of the Fund’s obligations over those of its counterparty under the contract. Accordingly, reliance by the Fund on physically-settled derivatives contracts may adversely impact investors by requiring the Fund to set aside a greater amount of liquid assets than would generally be required if the Fund were relying on cash-settled derivatives contracts.
Repurchase Agreements.  A repurchase agreement is an instrument under which the purchaser (i.e., the Fund) acquires a security and the seller agrees, at the time of the sale, to repurchase the security at a mutually agreed-upon time and price, thereby determining the yield during the purchaser’s holding period. Repurchase agreements may be construed to be collateralized loans by the purchaser to the seller secured by the securities transferred to the purchaser. If a repurchase agreement is construed to be a collateralized loan, the underlying securities will not be considered to be owned by the Fund but only to constitute collateral for the seller’s obligation to pay the repurchase price, and, in the event of a default by the seller, the Fund may suffer time delays and incur costs or losses in connection with the disposition of the collateral.
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In any repurchase transaction, the collateral for a repurchase agreement may include: (i) cash items; (ii) obligations issued by the U.S. government or its agencies or instrumentalities; or (iii) obligations that, at the time the repurchase agreement is entered into, are determined to (A) have exceptionally strong capacity to meet their financial obligations and (B) are sufficiently liquid such that they can be sold at approximately their carrying value in the ordinary course of business within seven days.
Repurchase agreements pose certain risks for the Fund, should it decide to utilize them. Such risks are not unique to the Fund, but are inherent in repurchase agreements. The Fund seeks to minimize such risks, but because of the inherent legal uncertainties involved in repurchase agreements, such risks cannot be eliminated. Lower quality collateral and collateral with a longer maturity may be subject to greater price fluctuations than higher quality collateral and collateral with a shorter maturity. If the repurchase agreement counterparty were to default, lower quality collateral may be more difficult to liquidate than higher quality collateral. Should the counterparty default and the amount of collateral not be sufficient to cover the counterparty’s repurchase obligation, the Fund would likely retain the status of an unsecured creditor of the counterparty (i.e., the position the Fund would normally be in if it were to hold, pursuant to its investment policies, other unsecured debt securities of the defaulting counterparty) with respect to the amount of the shortfall. As an unsecured creditor, the Fund would be at risk of losing some or all of the principal and income involved in the transaction.
Reverse Repurchase Agreements.  Reverse repurchase agreements involve the sale of securities with an agreement to repurchase the securities at an agreed-upon price, date and interest payment and have the characteristics of borrowing. Generally, the effect of such transactions is that the Fund can recover all or most of the cash invested in the portfolio securities involved during the term of the reverse repurchase agreement, while in many cases the Fund is able to keep some of the interest income associated with those securities. Such transactions are advantageous only if the Fund has an opportunity to earn a rate of interest on the cash derived from these transactions that is greater than the interest cost of obtaining the same amount of cash. Opportunities to realize earnings from the use of the proceeds equal to or greater than the interest required to be paid may not always be available, and the Fund intends to use the reverse repurchase technique only when BFA believes it will be advantageous to the Fund. The use of reverse repurchase agreements may exaggerate any increase or decrease in the value of the Fund’s assets. The Fund’s exposure to reverse repurchase agreements will be covered by liquid assets having a value equal to or greater than the Fund’s obligations under such commitments. The use of reverse repurchase agreements is a form of leverage, and the proceeds obtained by the Fund through reverse repurchase agreements may be invested in additional securities.
Securities of Investment Companies.  The Fund may invest in the securities of other investment companies (including money market funds) to the extent permitted by law. Pursuant to the 1940 Act, the Fund’s investment in registered investment companies is generally limited to, subject to certain exceptions: (i) 3% of the total outstanding voting stock of any one investment company; (ii) 5% of the Fund’s total assets with respect to any one investment company; and (iii) 10% of the Fund’s total assets with respect to investment companies in the aggregate. To the extent allowed by law or regulation, the Fund intends from time to time to invest its assets in the securities of investment companies, including, but not limited to, money market funds, including those advised by or otherwise affiliated with BFA, in excess of the general limits discussed above. Other investment companies in which the Fund may invest can be expected to incur fees and expenses for operations, such as investment advisory and administration fees, which would be in addition to those incurred by the Fund. Pursuant to guidance issued by the SEC staff, fees and expenses of money market funds used for cash collateral received in connection with loans of securities are not treated as Acquired Fund Fees and Expenses, which reflect the Fund’s pro rata share of the fees and expenses incurred by investing in other investment companies (as disclosed in the Prospectus, as applicable).
Short-Term Instruments and Temporary Investments.  The Fund may invest in short-term instruments, including money market instruments, on an ongoing basis to provide liquidity or for other reasons. Money market instruments are generally short-term investments that may include, but are not limited to: (i) shares of money market funds (including those advised by BFA or otherwise affiliated with BFA); (ii) obligations issued or guaranteed by the U.S. government, its agencies or instrumentalities (including government-sponsored enterprises); (iii) negotiable certificates of deposit, bankers’ acceptances, fixed-time deposits and other obligations of U.S. and non-U.S. banks (including non-U.S. branches) and similar institutions; (iv) commercial paper rated, at the date of purchase, “Prime-1” by Moody's® Investors Service, Inc., “F-1” by Fitch Ratings, Inc., or “A-1” by Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC, a subsidiary of S&P Global, Inc., or if unrated, of comparable quality as determined by BFA; (v) non-convertible corporate debt securities (e.g., bonds and debentures) with remaining maturities at the date of purchase of not more than 397 days and that have been determined to present minimal credit risks, in accordance with the requirements set forth in Rule 2a-7 under the 1940 Act; (vi) repurchase agreements; and (vii) short-term U.S. dollar-denominated obligations of non-U.S. banks (including U.S. branches) that, in the opinion of BFA, are of
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comparable quality to obligations of U.S. banks that may be purchased by the Fund. Any of these instruments may be purchased on a current or forward-settled basis. Time deposits are non-negotiable deposits maintained in banking institutions for specified periods of time at stated interest rates. Bankers’ acceptances are time drafts drawn on commercial banks by borrowers, usually in connection with international transactions.
Swap Agreements.  Swap agreements are contracts between parties in which one party agrees to make periodic payments to the other party based on a pre-determined underlying investment or notional amount. In return, the other party agrees to make periodic payments to the first party based on the return (or a differential in rate of return) earned or realized on the underlying investment or notional amount. Swap agreements will usually be performed on a net basis, with the Fund receiving or paying only the net amount of the two payments. The net amount of the excess, if any, of the Fund’s obligations over its entitlements with respect to each swap is accrued on a daily basis, and an amount of liquid assets having an aggregate value at least equal to the accrued excess will be maintained by the Fund.
The use of swaps is a highly specialized activity that involves investment techniques and risks different from those associated with ordinary portfolio security transactions. These transactions generally do not involve the delivery of securities or other underlying assets.
Tracking Stocks.  A tracking stock is a separate class of common stock whose value is linked to a specific business unit or operating division within a larger company and is designed to “track” the performance of such business unit or division. The tracking stock may pay dividends to shareholders independent of the parent company. The parent company, rather than the business unit or division, generally is the issuer of tracking stock. However, holders of the tracking stock may not have the same rights as holders of the company’s common stock.
Future Developments.  The Board may, in the future, authorize the Fund to invest in securities contracts and investments, other than those listed in this SAI and in the Prospectus, provided they are consistent with the Fund's investment objective and do not violate any of its investment restrictions or policies.
General Considerations and Risks
A discussion of some of the principal risks associated with an investment in the Fund is contained in the Prospectus.
An investment in the Fund should be made with an understanding that the value of the Fund’s portfolio securities may fluctuate in accordance with changes in the financial condition of the issuers of the portfolio securities, the value of stocks in general, and other factors that affect the market. The order of the below risk factors does not indicate the significance of any particular risk factor.
Borrowing Risk.  Borrowing may exaggerate changes in the net asset value of Fund shares and in the return on the Fund’s portfolio. Borrowing will cause the Fund to incur interest expense and other fees. The costs of borrowing may reduce the Fund’s return. Borrowing may cause the Fund to liquidate positions when it may not be advantageous to do so to satisfy its obligations.
Dividend-Paying Stock Risk.  The Fund's strategy of investing in dividend-paying stocks involves the risk that such stocks may fall out of favor with investors and underperform the market. Companies that issue dividend-paying stocks are not required to continue to pay dividends on such stocks. Therefore, there is the possibility that such companies could reduce or eliminate the payment of dividends in the future or an anticipated acceleration of dividends may not occur. Depending upon market conditions, dividend-paying stocks that meet the Fund’s investment criteria may not be widely available and/or may be highly concentrated in only a few market sectors.
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. The liquidity of an investment will be determined based on relevant market, trading and investment specific considerations as set out in the Liquidity Program as required by the Liquidity Rule. Illiquid investments may trade at a discount to comparable, more liquid investments and the Fund may not be able to dispose of illiquid investments in a timely fashion or at their expected prices. If illiquid investments exceed 15% of the Fund’s net assets, the Liquidity Rule and the Liquidity Program will require that certain remedial actions be taken.
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Operational Risk.  BFA and the Fund's other service providers may experience disruptions or operating errors such as processing errors or human errors, inadequate or failed internal or external processes, or systems or technology failures, that could negatively impact the Fund. While service providers are required to have appropriate operational risk management policies and procedures, their methods of operational risk management may differ from the Fund’s in the setting of priorities, the personnel and resources available or the effectiveness of relevant controls. BFA, through its monitoring and oversight of service providers, seeks to ensure that service providers take appropriate precautions to avoid and mitigate risks that could lead to disruptions and operating errors. However, it is not possible for BFA or the other Fund service providers to identify all of the operational risks that may affect the Fund or to develop processes and controls to completely eliminate or mitigate their occurrence or effects.
Risk of Derivatives.  A derivative is a financial contract, the value of which depends on, or is derived from, the value of an underlying asset, such as a security, a commodity (such as gold or silver), a currency or an index (a measure of value or rates, such as the S&P 500® or the prime lending rate). The Fund may invest in futures contracts, securities options and other derivatives. Compared to conventional securities, derivatives can be more sensitive to changes in interest rates or to sudden fluctuations in market prices and thus the Fund’s losses may be greater if it invests in derivatives than if it invests only in conventional securities. Derivatives are also subject to counterparty risk, which is the risk that the other party in the transaction will not fulfill its contractual obligations. Derivatives generally involve the incurrence of leverage. To address such leverage and to prevent the Fund from being deemed to have issued senior securities as a result of an investment in derivatives, the Fund will segregate liquid assets equal to its obligations under the derivatives throughout the life of the investment.
When a derivative is used as a hedge against a position that the Fund holds or is committed to purchase, any loss generated by the derivative generally should be substantially offset by gains on the hedged investment, and vice versa. While hedging can reduce or eliminate losses, it can also reduce or eliminate gains, and in some cases, hedging can cause losses that are not offset by gains, and the Fund will recognize losses on both the investment and the hedge. Hedges are sometimes subject to imperfect matching between the derivative and the underlying security, and there can be no assurance that the Fund's hedging transactions, which entail additional transaction costs, will be effective.
Risk of Equity Securities.  An investment in the Fund should be made with an understanding of the risks inherent in an investment in equity securities, including the risk that the financial condition of issuers may become impaired or that the general condition of stock markets may deteriorate (either of which may cause a decrease in the value of the portfolio securities and thus in the value of shares of the Fund). Common stocks are susceptible to general stock market fluctuations and to increases and decreases in value as market confidence and perceptions of their issuers change. These investor perceptions are based on various and unpredictable factors, including expectations regarding government, economic, monetary and fiscal policies, inflation and interest rates, economic expansion or contraction, and global or regional political, economic or banking crises. Holders of common stocks incur more risks than holders of preferred stocks and debt obligations because common stockholders generally have rights to receive payments from stock issuers that are inferior to the rights of creditors, or holders of debt obligations or preferred stocks. Further, unlike debt securities, which typically have a stated principal amount payable at maturity (the value of which, however, is subject to market fluctuations prior to maturity), or preferred stocks, which typically have a liquidation preference and which may have stated optional or mandatory redemption provisions, common stocks have neither a fixed principal amount nor a maturity date. In addition, issuers may, in times of distress or at their own discretion, decide to reduce or eliminate dividends, which may also cause their stock price to decline.
Although most of the securities in the Underlying Index are listed on a securities exchange, the principal trading market for some of the securities may be in the OTC market. The existence of a liquid trading market for certain securities may depend on whether dealers will make a market in such securities. There can be no assurance that a market will be made or maintained or that any such market will be or remain liquid. The price at which securities may be sold and the value of the Fund’s shares will be adversely affected if trading markets for the Fund’s portfolio securities are limited or absent, or if bid/ask spreads are wide.
Risk of Futures and Options on Futures Transactions.  There are several risks accompanying the utilization of futures contracts and options on futures contracts. A position in futures contracts and options on futures contracts may be closed only on the exchange on which the contract was made (or a linked exchange). While the Fund plans to utilize futures contracts only if an active market exists for such contracts, there is no guarantee that a liquid market will exist for the contract at a specified time. Futures contracts, by definition, project price levels in the future and not current levels of
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valuation; therefore, market circumstances may result in a discrepancy between the price of the future and the movement in the Fund's Underlying Index. In the event of adverse price movements, the Fund would continue to be required to make daily cash payments to maintain its required margin. In such situations, if the Fund has insufficient cash, it may have to sell portfolio securities to meet daily margin requirements at a time when it may be disadvantageous to do so. In addition, the Fund may be required to deliver the instruments underlying the futures contracts it has sold.
The risk of loss in trading futures contracts or uncovered call options in some strategies (e.g., selling uncovered stock index futures contracts) is potentially unlimited. The Fund does not plan to use futures and options contracts in this way. The risk of a futures position may still be large as traditionally measured due to the low margin deposits required. In many cases, a relatively small price movement in a futures contract may result in immediate and substantial loss or gain to the investor relative to the size of a required margin deposit. The Fund, however, intends to utilize futures and options contracts in a manner designed to limit the risk exposure to levels comparable to a direct investment in the types of stocks in which it invests.
Utilization of futures and options on futures by the Fund involves the risk of imperfect or even negative correlation to the Underlying Index if the index underlying the futures contract differs from the Underlying Index. There is also the risk of loss of margin deposits in the event of bankruptcy of a broker with whom the Fund has an open position in the futures contract or option. The purchase of put or call options will be based upon predictions by BFA as to anticipated trends, which predictions could prove to be incorrect.
Because the futures market generally imposes less burdensome margin requirements than the securities market, an increased amount of participation by speculators in the futures market could result in price fluctuations. Certain financial futures exchanges limit the amount of fluctuation permitted in futures contract prices during a single trading day. The daily limit establishes the maximum amount by which the price of a futures contract may vary either up or down from the previous day’s settlement price at the end of a trading session. Once the daily limit has been reached in a particular type of contract, no trades may be made on that day at a price beyond that limit. It is possible that futures contract prices could move to the daily limit for several consecutive trading days with little or no trading, thereby preventing prompt liquidation of futures positions and subjecting the Fund to substantial losses. In the event of adverse price movements, the Fund would be required to make daily cash payments of variation margin.
Risk of Investing in Non-U.S. Equity Securities.  An investment in the Fund involves risks similar to those of investing in portfolios of equity securities traded on non-U.S. exchanges. These risks include market fluctuations caused by such factors as economic and political developments in those foreign countries, changes in interest rates and perceived trends in stock prices. Investing in securities issued by issuers domiciled in countries other than the domicile of the investor and denominated in currencies other than an investor’s local currency entails certain considerations and risks not typically encountered by the investor in making investments in its home country and in that country’s currency. These considerations include favorable or unfavorable changes in interest rates, currency exchange rates, exchange control regulations and the costs that may be incurred in connection with conversions between various currencies. Investing in the Fund also involves certain risks and considerations not typically associated with investing in a fund whose portfolio contains exclusively securities of U.S. issuers. These risks include generally less liquid and less efficient securities markets; generally greater price volatility; less publicly available information about issuers; the imposition of withholding or other taxes; the imposition of restrictions on the expatriation of funds or other assets of the Fund; higher transaction and custody costs; delays and risks attendant in settlement procedures; difficulties in enforcing contractual obligations; lower liquidity and significantly smaller market capitalization; different accounting and disclosure standards; lower levels of regulation of the securities markets; more substantial government interference with the economy and businesses; higher rates of inflation; greater social, economic, and political uncertainty; the risk of nationalization or expropriation of assets; and the risk of war.
Risk of Swap Agreements.  The risk of loss with respect to swaps is generally limited to the net amount of payments that the Fund is contractually obligated to make. Swap agreements are subject to the risk that the swap counterparty will default on its obligations. If such a default occurs, the Fund will have contractual remedies pursuant to the agreements related to the transaction. However, such remedies may be subject to bankruptcy and insolvency laws, which could affect the Fund’s rights as a creditor (e.g., the Fund may not receive the net amount of payments that it is contractually entitled to receive).
The Fund is required to post and collect variation margin (comprised of specified liquid securities subject to haircuts) in connection with trading of OTC swaps. Implementation of regulations requiring posting of initial margin is being phased in through 2020. These requirements may raise the costs for the Fund’s investment in swaps.
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Risk of Investing in Asia.   Investments in securities of issuers in certain Asian countries involve risks not typically associated with investments in securities of issuers in other regions. Such heightened risks include, among others, expropriation and/or nationalization of assets, confiscatory taxation, piracy of intellectual property, data and other security breaches (especially of data stored electronically), political instability, including authoritarian and/or military involvement in governmental decision-making, armed conflict and social instability as a result of religious, ethnic and/or socio-economic unrest. Certain Asian economies have experienced rapid rates of economic growth and industrialization in recent years, and there is no assurance that these rates of economic growth and industrialization will be maintained.
Certain Asian countries have democracies with relatively short histories, which may increase the risk of political instability. These countries have faced political and military unrest, and further unrest could present a risk to their local economies and securities markets. Indonesia and the Philippines have each experienced violence and terrorism, which has negatively impacted their economies. North Korea and South Korea each have substantial military capabilities, and historical tensions between the two countries present the risk of war. Escalated tensions involving the two countries and any outbreak of hostilities between the two countries, or even the threat of an outbreak of hostilities, could have a severe adverse effect on the entire Asian region. Certain Asian countries have also developed increasingly strained relationships with the U.S., and if these relations were to worsen, they could adversely affect Asian issuers that rely on the U.S. for trade. Political, religious, and border disputes persist in India. India has recently experienced and may continue to experience civil unrest and hostilities with certain of its neighboring countries. Increased political and social unrest in these geographic areas could adversely affect the performance of investments in this region.
Certain governments in this region administer prices on several basic goods, including fuel and electricity, within their respective countries. Certain governments may exercise substantial influence over many aspects of the private sector in their respective countries and may own or control many companies. Future government actions could have a significant effect on the economic conditions in this region, which in turn could have a negative impact on private sector companies. There is also the possibility of diplomatic developments adversely affecting investments in the region.
Corruption and the perceived lack of a rule of law in dealings with international companies in certain Asian countries may discourage foreign investment and could negatively impact the long-term growth of certain economies in this region. In addition, certain countries in the region are experiencing high unemployment and corruption, and have fragile banking sectors.
Some economies in this region are dependent on a range of commodities, including oil, natural gas and coal. Accordingly, they are strongly affected by international commodity prices and particularly vulnerable to any weakening in global demand for these products. The market for securities in this region may also be directly influenced by the flow of international capital, and by the economic and market conditions of neighboring countries. Adverse economic conditions or developments in neighboring countries may increase investors' perception of the risk of investing in the region as a whole, which may adversely impact the market value of the securities issued by companies in the region.
Risk of Investing in Australasia.  The economies of Australasia, which include Australia and New Zealand, are dependent on exports from the agricultural and mining sectors. This makes Australasian economies susceptible to fluctuations in the commodity markets. Australasian economies are also increasingly dependent on their growing service industries. Australia and New Zealand are located in a part of the world that has historically been prone to natural disasters, such as drought and flooding. Any such event in the future could have a significant adverse impact on the economies of Australia and New Zealand and affect the value of securities held by the Fund. The economies of Australia and New Zealand are dependent on trading with certain key trading partners, including Asia, Europe and the U.S. The economies of Australia and New Zealand are heavily dependent on the mining sector. Passage of new regulations limiting foreign ownership of companies in the mining sector or imposition of new taxes on profits of mining companies may dissuade foreign investment, and as a result, have a negative impact on companies to which the Fund has exposure.
Risk of Investing in Australia.  The Fund’s investment in Australian issuers may subject the Fund to loss in the event of adverse political, economic, regulatory and other developments that affect Australia, including fluctuations of Australian currency versus the U.S. dollar. Also, Australia is located in a part of the world that has historically been prone to natural disasters, such as drought and flooding. Any such event in the future could have a significant adverse impact on the Australian economy. The Australian economy is dependent on trading with certain key trading partners. The Australia–U.S. Free Trade Agreement has significantly expanded the trading relationship between the U.S. and Australia. Economic events in the U.S., Asia, or in other key trading countries can have a significant economic effect on the Australian economy.
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Risk of Investing in Developed Countries.  Many countries with developed markets have recently experienced significant economic pressures. These countries generally tend to rely on the services sectors (e.g., the financial services sector) as the primary source of economic growth and may be susceptible to the risks of individual service sectors. For example, companies in the financial services sector are subject to governmental regulation and, recently, government intervention, which may adversely affect the scope of their activities, the prices they can charge and amount of capital they must maintain. Recent dislocations in the financial sector and perceived or actual governmental influence over certain financial companies may lead to credit rating downgrades and, as a result, impact, among other things, revenue growth for such companies. If financial companies experience a prolonged decline in revenue growth, certain developed countries that rely heavily on financial companies as an economic driver may experience a correlative slowdown. Recently, new concerns have emerged with respect to the economic health of certain developed countries. These concerns primarily stem from heavy indebtedness of many developed countries and their perceived inability to continue to service high debt loads without simultaneously implementing stringent austerity measures. Such concerns have led to tremendous downward pressure on the economies of these countries. As a result, it is possible that interest rates on debt of certain developed countries may rise to levels that make it difficult for such countries to service such debt. Spending on health care and retirement pensions in most developed countries has risen dramatically over the last few years. Medical innovation, extended life expectancy and higher public expectations are likely to continue the increase in health care and pension costs. Any increase in health care and pension costs will likely have a negative impact on the economic growth of many developed countries. Certain developed countries rely on imports of certain key items, such as crude oil, natural gas, and other commodities. As a result, an increase in demand for, or price fluctuations of, certain commodities may negatively affect developed country economies. Developed market countries generally are dependent on the economies of certain key trading partners. Changes in any one economy may cause an adverse impact on several developed countries. In addition, heavy regulation of, among others, labor and product markets may have an adverse effect on certain issuers. Such regulations may negatively affect economic growth or cause prolonged periods of recession. Such risks, among others, may adversely affect the value of the Fund’s investments.
U.S. Economic Trading Partners Risk.  The U.S. is a significant trading partner of, or foreign investor in, certain countries in which the Fund invests, and the economies of these countries may be particularly affected by changes in the U.S. economy. A decrease in U.S. imports or exports, new trade regulations, changes in the U.S. dollar exchange rate or an economic slowdown in the U.S. may have a material adverse effect on economies of the countries in which the Fund invests and, as a result, securities to which the Fund has exposure.
The U.S. has developed increasingly strained relations with a number of foreign countries, including traditional allies, such as certain European countries, and historical adversaries, such as North Korea, Iran, China and Russia. If these relations were to worsen, it could adversely affect U.S. issuers as well as non-U.S. issuers that rely on the U.S. for trade. The U.S. has also experienced increased internal unrest and discord. If this trend were to continue, it may have an adverse impact on the U.S. economy and many of the issuers in which the Fund invests.
Risk of Investing in the Basic Materials Industry.  Issuers in the basic materials industry could be adversely affected by commodity price volatility, exchange rate fluctuations, import controls and increased competition. Companies in the basic materials industry may be subject to swift fluctuations in supply and demand. Fluctuations may be caused by events relating to political and economic developments, the environmental impact of basic materials operations, and the success of exploration projects. Production of industrial materials often exceeds demand as a result of over-building or economic downturns, leading to poor investment returns. Issuers in the basic materials industry are at risk for environmental damage and product liability claims and may be adversely affected by depletion of resources, delays in technical progress, labor relations, tax and government regulations related to changes to, among other things, energy and environmental policies.
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Goods Industry.  Companies in the consumer goods industry include companies involved in the design, production or distribution of goods for consumers, including food, household, home, personal and office products, clothing and textiles. The success of the consumer goods industry is tied closely to the performance of the domestic and international economy, interest rates, exchange rates, competition, consumer confidence and consumer disposable income. The consumer goods industry may be affected by trends, marketing campaigns and other factors affecting consumer demand. Governmental regulation affecting the use of various food additives may affect the profitability of certain companies in the consumer goods industry. Moreover, international events may affect food and beverage companies that derive a substantial portion of their net income from foreign countries. In addition, tobacco companies may be adversely affected by new laws, regulations and litigation. Many consumer goods may be marketed globally, and
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consumer goods companies may be affected by the demand and market conditions in other countries and regions. Companies in the consumer goods industry may be subject to severe competition, which may also have an adverse impact on their profitability. Changes in demographics and consumer preferences may affect the success of consumer products.
Risk of Investing in the Consumer Services Industry.  The success of firms in the consumer services industry and certain retailers (including food and beverage, general retailers, media, and travel and leisure) is tied closely to the performance of the domestic and international economy, interest rates, exchange rates, competition 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 demographics and consumer preferences may affect the success of consumer service providers.
Risk of Investing in the Financials Sector.  Companies in the financials sector include regional and money center banks, securities brokerage firms, asset management companies, savings banks and thrift institutions, specialty finance companies (e.g., credit card, mortgage providers), insurance and insurance brokerage firms, consumer finance firms, financial conglomerates and foreign banking and financial companies.
Most financial companies are subject to extensive governmental regulation, which limits their activities and may affect their ability to earn a profit from a given line of business. Government regulation may change frequently and may have significant adverse consequences for companies in the financials sector, including effects not intended by the regulation. Direct governmental intervention in the operations of financial companies and financial markets may materially and adversely affect the companies in which the Fund invests, including legislation in many countries that may increase government regulation, repatriation and other intervention. The impact of governmental intervention and legislative changes on any individual financial company or on the financials sector as a whole cannot be predicted. The valuation of financial companies has been and continues to be subject to unprecedented volatility and may be influenced by unpredictable factors, including interest rate risk and sovereign debt default. Certain financial businesses are subject to intense competitive pressures, including market share and price competition. Financial companies in foreign countries are subject to market specific and general regulatory and interest rate concerns. In particular, government regulation in certain foreign countries may include taxes and controls on interest rates, credit availability, minimum capital requirements, bans on short sales, limits on prices and restrictions on currency transfers. In addition, companies in the financials sector may be the targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or customer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses.
The profitability of banks, savings and loan associations and financial companies is largely dependent on the availability and cost of capital funds and can fluctuate significantly when interest rates change; for instance, when interest rates go up, the value of securities issued by many types of companies in the financials sector generally goes down. In other words, financial companies may be adversely affected in certain market cycles, including, without limitation, during periods of rising interest rates, which may restrict the availability and increase the cost of capital, and during periods of declining economic conditions, which may cause, among other things, credit losses due to financial difficulties of borrowers.
In addition, general economic conditions are important to the operations of these companies, and financial difficulties of borrowers may have an adverse effect on the profitability of financial companies. Financial companies can be highly dependent upon access to capital markets, and any impediments to such access, such as adverse overall economic conditions or a negative perception in the capital markets of a financial company’s financial condition or prospects, could adversely affect its business. Deterioration of credit markets can have an adverse impact on a broad range of financial markets, causing certain financial companies to incur large losses. In these conditions, companies in the financials sector may experience significant declines in the valuation of their assets, take actions to raise capital and even cease operations. Some financial companies may also be required to accept or borrow significant amounts of capital from government sources and may face future government-imposed restrictions on their businesses or increased government intervention. In addition, there is no guarantee that governments will provide any such relief in the future. These actions may cause the securities of many companies in the financials sector to decline in value.
Risk of Investing in the Industrials Sector.  The value of securities issued by companies in the industrials sector may be adversely affected by supply of and demand for both their specific products or services and for industrials sector products in general. The products of manufacturing companies may face obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction. Government regulations, trade disputes, world events and economic conditions may affect the performance of companies in the industrials sector. The industrials sector may also be adversely affected by
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changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced by unpredictable factors. Aerospace and defense companies, a component of the industrials sector, can be significantly affected by government spending policies because companies involved in this industry rely, to a significant extent, on government demand for their products and services. Thus, the financial condition of, and investor interest in, aerospace and defense companies are heavily influenced by governmental defense spending policies, which are typically under pressure from efforts to control government budgets. Transportation stocks, a component of the industrials sector, are cyclical and can be significantly affected by economic changes, fuel prices, labor relations and insurance costs. Transportation companies in certain countries may also be subject to significant government regulation and oversight, which may adversely affect their businesses. For example, commodity price declines and unit volume reductions resulting from an over-supply of materials used in the industrials sector can adversely affect the sector. Furthermore, companies in the industrials sector may be subject to liability for environmental damage, product liability claims, depletion of resources, and mandated expenditures for safety and pollution control.
Risk of Investing in the Oil and Gas Industry.  Companies in the oil and gas industry are strongly affected by the levels and volatility of global energy prices, oil and gas supply and demand, government regulations and policies, oil and gas production and conservation efforts and technological change. The oil and gas industry is cyclical and from time to time may experience a shortage of drilling rigs, equipment, supplies or qualified personnel, or due to significant demand, such services may not be available on commercially reasonable terms. Prices and supplies of oil and gas may fluctuate significantly over short and long periods of time due to national and international political changes, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (“OPEC”) policies, changes in relationships among OPEC members and between OPEC and oil-importing nations, the regulatory environment, taxation policies, and the economies of key energy-consuming countries. Disruptions in the oil sub-industry or shifts in energy consumption may significantly impact companies in this industry. For instance, significant oil and gas deposits are located in emerging market countries where corruption and security may raise significant risks, in addition to the other risks of investing in emerging markets. In addition, the Middle East, where many companies in the oil and gas industry may operate, has recently experienced widespread social unrest. Oil and gas companies operate in a highly competitive industry, with intense price competition. A significant portion of their revenues may depend on a relatively small number of customers, including governmental entities and utilities. Companies that own or operate gas pipelines are subject to certain risks, including pipeline and equipment leaks and ruptures, explosions, fires, unscheduled downtime, transportation interruptions, discharges or releases of toxic or hazardous gases and other environmental risks.
Risk of Investing in the Technology Sector.  Technology companies are characterized by periodic new product introductions, innovations and evolving industry standards, and, as a result, face intense competition, both domestically and internationally, which may have an adverse effect on profit margins. Companies in the technology sector are often smaller and less experienced companies and may be subject to greater risks than larger companies; these risks may be heightened for technology companies in foreign markets. Technology companies may have limited product lines, markets, financial resources or personnel. The products of technology companies may face product obsolescence due to rapid technological developments and frequent new product introduction, changes in consumer and business purchasing patterns, unpredictable changes in growth rates and competition for the services of qualified personnel. In addition, a rising interest rate environment tends to negatively affect companies in the technology sector because, in such an environment, those companies with high market valuations may appear less attractive to investors, which may cause sharp decreases in the companies’ market prices. Companies in the technology sector are heavily dependent on patent and intellectual property rights. The loss or impairment of these rights may adversely affect the profitability of these companies. The technology sector may also be adversely affected by changes or trends in commodity prices, which may be influenced or characterized by unpredictable factors. Finally, while all companies may be susceptible to network security breaches, certain companies in the technology sector may be particular targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or consumer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses.
Risk of Investing in the Telecommunications Sector.  The telecommunications sector of a country’s economy is often subject to extensive government regulation. The costs of complying with governmental regulations, delays or failure to receive required regulatory approvals, or the enactment of new regulatory requirements may negatively affect the business of telecommunications companies. Government actions around the world, specifically in the area of pre-marketing clearance of products and prices, can be arbitrary and unpredictable. Companies in the telecommunications sector may experience distressed cash flows due to the need to commit substantial capital to meet increasing competition, particularly in developing new products and services using new technology. Technological innovations may make the products and services of certain telecommunications companies obsolete. Finally, while all companies may be susceptible to network security breaches, certain companies in the telecommunications sector may be particular targets of hacking and potential theft of proprietary or consumer information or disruptions in service, which could have a material adverse effect on their businesses.
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Risk of Investing in the Utilities Sector.  The utilities sector may be adversely affected by changing commodity prices, government regulation stipulating rates charged by utilities, increased tariffs, changes in tax laws, interest rate fluctuations and changes in the cost of providing specific utility services. The utilities industry is also subject to potential terrorist attacks, natural disasters and severe weather conditions, as well as regulatory and operational burdens associated with the operation and maintenance of nuclear facilities. Government regulators monitor and control utility revenues and costs, and therefore may limit utility profits. In certain countries, regulatory authorities may also restrict a company’s access to new markets, thereby diminishing the company’s long-term prospects.
There are substantial differences among the regulatory practices and policies of various jurisdictions, and any regulatory agency may make major shifts in policy from time to time. There is no assurance that regulatory authorities will, in the future, grant rate increases. Additionally, existing and possible future regulatory legislation may make it even more difficult for utilities to obtain adequate relief. Certain of the issuers of securities held in the Fund's portfolio may own or operate nuclear generating facilities. Governmental authorities may from time to time review existing policies and impose additional requirements governing the licensing, construction and operation of nuclear power plants. Prolonged changes in climate conditions can also have a significant impact on both the revenues of an electric and gas utility as well as the expenses of a utility, particularly a hydro-based electric utility.
The rates that traditional regulated utility companies may charge their customers generally are subject to review and limitation by governmental regulatory commissions. Rate changes may occur only after a prolonged approval period or may not occur at all, which could adversely affect utility companies when costs are rising. The value of regulated utility debt securities (and, to a lesser extent, equity securities) tends to have an inverse relationship to the movement of interest rates. Certain utility companies have experienced full or partial deregulation in recent years. These utility companies are frequently more similar to industrial companies in that they are subject to greater competition and have been permitted by regulators to diversify outside of their original geographic regions and their traditional lines of business. As a result, some companies may be forced to defend their core bus