Dreyfus Corp. has announced it will offer three new intermediate, single-state bond funds to municipal investors.
Taking advantage of relatively low long-term tax-exempt yields and the narrow spread between intermediate and long-term bond yields, the corporation will market the funds to Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. These are the first intermediate, state-specific funds Dreyfus will offer to those states.
In January, Dreyfus launched its new intermediate fund program with a Florida fund, which now has assets of about $160 million, says Kirk Stumpp, director of marketing for retail products for Dreyfus.
The success of the Florida fund led Dreyfus to launch an intermediate California fund last month, in addition to the three new funds. The firm sponsored its first intermediate state fund, a New York fund, in mid-1987, Mr. Stumpp said.
In targeting states for the new funds, Dreyfus also considered well-populated areas with high tax rates, Mr. Stumpp added.
The dollar-weighted average maturity of each of the new funds' portfolios will range between three and 10 years, said Stephen Kris, vice president and portfolio manager of the Connecticut, New Jersey, and Florida funds for Dreyfus Tax-Exempt Bond Funds in New York. In addition, only 5% of a fund's assets can be invested in bonds from a single issuer, he noted.
First advertised to investors last Sunday, the Connecticut fund currently has assets of about $2.6 million, the portfolio manager pointed out. The New Jersey fund has assets of about $4 million, he said.
While the funds can invest in bonds rated BBB or better, most of the bonds in the Connecticut fund have ratings of Aa, Mr. Kris said. Most of the bonds in the New Jersey fund are rated A-plus, he said.
In contrast, the Florida fund contains a large amount of insured paper, reflecting strong demand for such securities by state residents, Mr. Kris explained.
Both the California and Massachusetts funds will invest in high-quality bonds, said Larry Troutman vice president of Dreyfus Tax-Exempt Bond Funds and manager of those funds.
The California fund, which was started about a month ago and has assets of about $30 million, is fully invested in bonds with ratings of A and triple-A, Mr. Troutman said.
While the financial problems of both Massachusetts and California play a role in the funds' strategies, investment in bonds with medium-grade ratings, such as Baa or lower, will be limited due to expectations that the tax-exempt market could falter, the portfolio manager noted.
"Even if there were no [financial] problems, anything you have a market that's been so strong the tendency to back up is great, so you're cautious about maturity and credit quality," Mr. Troutman explained.
The intermediate sector also is very popular with individual investors at this time, Mr. Troutman said. This is because bonds with maturities ranging from three to 10 years offer higher yields than those currently available on money market funds. In additional, there is very little yield advantage to be gained by lengthening maturities and increasing risk by investing in longer-term securities, he added.
Minimum investment in each of the funds is $2,500.