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Equity Mutual Funds

Chances are you have at least one long-term financial goal. Whether it's saving for retirement or college for your kids, starting your own business or traveling the world, equity mutual funds may help you reach your financial aspirations.

What's a Stock?

A stock (also known as an equity or a share) is a portion of the ownership of a corporation. A share of stock gives its owner a stake in the company and its profits. If a corporation has issued 100 shares of stock in total, then each share represents a 1% ownership in the company.

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Stocks' Return Potential

There's no disputing the long-term results of the stock market. During the past 30 years, stocks have outperformed all other major asset classes. Equities can also help protect purchasing power; they have the greatest potential for outpacing inflation. While past performance does not guarantee future results, you may stand the best chance of reaping the rewards of stocks if you keep your money invested over a long period of time.

Inflation Takes a Bite Out of Your Returns

Annual Returns for 25-Year Period
Ended December 31, 2012

The illustration does not represent the past or future performance of any Franklin, Templeton or Mutual Series fund. For current performance of any Franklin Templeton fund, please see the Price and Performance section.

Stocks generally have high potential returns but tend to be the most volatile. Their prices fluctuate, sometimes rapidly and dramatically, due to factors affecting individual companies, particular industries or sectors, or general market conditions. In general, the bond market is volatile and bonds incur interest rate risk. As interest rates rise, bond prices usually fall, and vice versa. Cash equivalent instruments are considered to be low risk as they offer the most stability, but they have very little long-term growth potential.

Source: ©2013 Morningstar. Stocks are represented by the S&P 500 Index, bonds by the Ibbotson Associates SBBI Long Term Corporate Index, cash equivalents by the P&R 90 day U.S. T-Bill Index, and inflation by the U.S. Consumer Price Index (not seasonally adjusted). Indexes are unmanaged and unavailable for direct investment. Figures shown indicate past performance and do not guarantee future returns, nor are they intended to illustrate performance for any Franklin Templeton fund.

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Rewards of Long-Term Investing

Looking at an index like the S&P 500, we find that time has helped tame, although not eliminate, price fluctuations. During one-year periods from 1929 through 2012, the stock market jumped by up to 53.99% and fell by as much as-43.34%. When we evaluate 20-year periods, however, we find that the worst average annual total return was a positive 3.11%.

Historical Returns from Stocks

The illustration does not represent the past or future performance of any Franklin, Templeton or Mutual Series fund. For current performance of any Franklin Templeton fund, please see the Price and Performance section.

Source: ©2013 Morningstar. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Stock performance is represented by the unmanaged S&P 500 Index, which includes reinvested dividends. An individual cannot invest directly in an index.

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Equity Mutual Funds

With thousands of publicly traded common stocks in the U.S. alone, making investment decisions on your own can be overwhelming. One way to simplify investing in the stock market is through an equity mutual fund.

The mutual fund concept is simple: A number of people who share the same financial objective pool their money and have it invested and managed by professional portfolio managers. Equity mutual funds, for example, invest this pooled money in common stocks of public companies, generally with long-term capital appreciation as a primary goal.

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Characteristics of Equity Mutual Funds

Diversification. Equity mutual funds allow you to spread your money across a larger number of securities than you probably could on your own. This diversification dramatically reduces the risk of any one company's losses adversely affecting your investment as a whole.

Professional management. Professional money managers closely monitor the securities markets and individual companies, buying and selling securities as they see opportunities arise. Few individual investors can devote time or resources to daily management of a sizable portfolio or stay up to date on the thousands of securities available in the financial markets.

Liquidity. You may sell some or all of your mutual fund shares at any time and receive their current value (net asset value). The value may be more or less than your original cost, which may include a sales charge.

Convenience. Mutual funds offer shareholders many services that make investing easier. You may buy or sell shares each business day, automatically add to or withdraw from your account each month, and have income dividends and capital gains paid out to you or automatically reinvested.

Front-end, and in some cases back-end, sales loads, management fees, Rule 12b-1 fees and other expenses are associated with Franklin Templeton mutual fund investments. Investors' returns are reduced by these fees and expenses. Funds are offered through prospectuses.

A few words about risk. All investments involve risks, including possible loss of principal. Stocks historically have outperformed other asset classes over the long term, but tend to fluctuate in value more dramatically over the short term. These and other risks are discussed in each fund's prospectus.

Diversification does not guarantee a profit or protect against a loss.

Actively managed strategies could experience losses if the investment manager's judgment about markets, interest rates or the attractiveness, relative values, liquidity or potential appreciation of particular investments made for a portfolio, proves to be incorrect.

 

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Types of Equity Mutual Funds

Some funds that invest for capital appreciation are broad-based, investing in a wide range of companies and industries. Others have a narrower focus, and may invest in companies of a certain size, such as small- or mid-cap funds, or in specific sectors like technology or utilities.

Growth-style Mutual Funds

Potential earnings growth. Generally, managers of growth-style equity mutual funds look to buy companies with strong competitive positions or expanding market opportunities. Companies with these characteristics are often poised for above-average profits or earnings growth. Although profits can be paid out to shareholders, many growth companies reinvest the money back into the company to further strengthen its competitive position or expand into new markets.

Long-term growth trends. Growth managers also look for companies that are well positioned to capitalize on long-term growth trends that may drive earnings higher.

Return potential. Growth-style investing tends to be more aggressive than value-style investing and could potentially offer stronger performance during healthy economic environments.

How risky are growth funds? Growth stocks can be volatile and typically are associated with a higher level of risk. Because these stocks often trade at higher valuations, if a company experiences a setback or if earnings don't meet expectations, the company's stock price has the potential to take a harder fall.

Value-style Mutual Funds

Bargains. Generally, managers of value-style equity mutual funds look to buy companies that are trading below their intrinsic value, but whose true worth they believe will eventually be recognized. These securities typically have low prices relative to earnings or book value, and often have a higher dividend yield.

Overlooked opportunities. Value managers search for opportunities that have been overlooked by the market, perhaps because an industry is out of favor. Additional opportunities may arise if a stock is temporarily depressed due to market overreaction or a missed earnings target.

Lower volatility. Since value stocks sell at a discount, they generally experience less volatility than growth stocks and could potentially offer stronger performance during slower-growth environments.

How risky are value stocks? Just because a stock is cheap, doesn't mean it's a good value. A value stock may remain undervalued by the market for a long period of time. For example, investors may fail to recognize the company's value and bid up the price as expected, or the outlook for a company may deteriorate.

Sector Mutual Funds

High return potential. A sector fund concentrates on a particular market sector or group of industries, such as biotechnology, natural resources, utilities or real estate. Sector funds allow investors to participate in industry sectors with strong growth prospects without having to select individual stocks.

How risky are sector funds? Because of their concentrated investing focus, sector funds carry more risk than a generalized fund that diversifies its investments in the broader market. Sector funds are generally best used as a complement to a well-diversified portfolio. Sectors react differently during economic expansion and contractions. Adding investments from different sectors may help you take advantage of the rotating economic cycles.

Type of Equity Fund What the Fund Buys*
*This overview is not meant to describe Franklin Templeton funds, but to provide examples of investments equity funds can make, as well as possible investment strategies.
Growth Stocks in companies whose earnings are expected to rise
International Equity Stocks in non-U.S. companies
Global Equity Stocks in U.S. and non-U.S. companies
Sector Stocks in a particular industry, such as energy, biotechnology, transportation
Value Stocks of undervalued companies expected to increase in value
Blend Stocks of both growth and value companies
Hybrid A fund that invests in a mixture of stocks, fixed-income and money market securities

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Time is Your Ally

History shows that for long-term investors, timing the stock market is far less important than time spent in the market. Missing just a few key days in the stock market can have a dramatic effect on overall portfolio results.

It's Time That Counts*
Twenty-Year Period Ended December 31, 2012
Period of Investment S&P 500 Index Average Annual Total Return
* Source: Standard & Poor's Corporation. The market is represented by the unmanaged Standard & Poor's 500 Index and includes reinvested dividends. One cannot invest directly in an index. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
Remained Fully Invested 8.22%
Missed the 10 Best Days 4.53%
Missed the 20 Best Days 2.08%
Missed the 30 Best Days -0.02%
Missed the 40 Best Days -1.94%

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Important Legal Information

All investments involve risks, including possible loss of principal. Generally, those offering potential for higher returns are accompanied by a higher degree of risk. Stock prices fluctuate, sometimes rapidly and dramatically, due to factors affecting individual companies, particular industries or sectors, or general market conditions. Bond prices are affected by interest rate changes. Bond prices, and thus a bond fund's share price, generally move in the opposite direction of interest rates. As the price of bonds in a fund adjusts to a rise in interest rates, the fund's share price may decline. Foreign investing, especially in developing markets, has additional risks such as currency and market volatility and political or social instability. For tax-free income funds, the alternative minimum tax may apply.

For more information on any of our funds, contact your financial advisor or download a free prospectus. Investors should carefully consider a fund's investment goals, risks, sales charges and expenses before investing. The prospectus contains this and other information. Please read the prospectus carefully before investing or sending money.

This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended as investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities.

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