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Q1 | 2012 » Putnam Retirement Advantage Funds Q&A

Higher-risk assets led


market rally as investor
confidence improved
Jeffrey L. Knight, CFA
Head of Global Asset Allocation
Portfolio Manager, Putnam Retirement Advantage Funds

Portfolio management team Key takeaways


Jeff Knight leads a team of veteran •A broad rally lifted stocks and most sectors of the bond market in the first quarter
investors responsible for day-to-day
management of the funds.
as macroeconomic risks receded in the United States, Europe, and China.

•Portfolio strategies added to performance through security selection in several


equity styles and fixed-income sectors, while positioning in commodities
detracted from results.

•We continue to favor limited exposure to interest-rate risk in our fixed-income


James A. Fetch Robert J. Kea, CFA strategies, while credit risk gained through exposure to corporate bonds and
(industry since 1994) (industry since 1988)
certain mortgage-backed securities offers attractive return potential, in our view.

•Despite recent signs of improvement, the world’s major macro risks — the pace of
economic growth in the United States and China, and Europe’s efforts to address
long-term structural challenges — require close monitoring.
Joshua B. Kutin, CFA Robert J. Schoen
(industry since 1998) (industry since 1990)
After a mostly volatile year in 2011, global markets rebounded in the
first quarter of 2012. What contributed to the turnaround?
The first-quarter rally in part reflected a relief rally. The U.S. economy has surprised
on the upside since September, with housing, jobs, consumer confidence, and
spending either stable or slowly improving. Investors appeared to conclude that
Jason R. Vaillancourt, CFA
(industry since 1993) the U.S. economy, and the global economic outlook for that matter, might not be as
bleak as first thought.

Signs of a U.S. recovery were welcome news amid Europe’s clear economic decel-
eration and China’s more measured slowdown. The positive U.S. economic reports
were enough to tempt cautious investors who had waited out the uncertainty in
lower-risk investments to shift assets into higher-risk strategies, thus driving up
stock prices. While global equity markets were lifted by the positive news, U.S.
stocks outperformed international stocks for the quarter ended March 31, 2012,
with the S&P 500 Index’s 12.59% return surpassing the 10.86% return of non-U.S.
equities as measured by the MSCI EAFE Index [ND].

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Q1 2012 |  Higher-risk assets led market rally as investor confidence improved

Was the market environment also favorable long end of the yield curve, which we think will continue
for other higher-risk strategies such as high- to exhibit volatility. While central banks have anchored
yield bonds? the short end of the curve, the long end — represented
With the return of investor confidence in the first quarter, by bonds with maturities of 20 or 30 years — may be
we saw increased demand for the greater return potential forced to absorb all of the policy uncertainty or any addi-
of all higher-risk asset classes. High-yield bonds were the tional shocks to the global financial system, providing
primary beneficiaries of this risk rally, with the JPMorgan short-term opportunities.
Developed High Yield Index climbing 5.46% for the
quarter. While spreads [the yield advantage that high- Do you think European sovereign debt
yield bonds offer over Treasuries] have tightened in the challenges will continue to set the tone for
past few months, they are still attractive on a historical global markets?
basis given the modestly improving economic backdrop Yes, we believe Europe’s debt woes and policymakers’
and a supportive supply/demand dynamic due to solid efforts to address the long-term structural challenges
inflows to high-yield funds. Furthermore, the amount of are likely to dominate the course of the global markets
refinancing that has occurred during the past two years for the foreseeable future — much as they have for the
has extended the maturity profile of many high-yield past two years. In recent developments, European
issuers, which helps reduce their current debt load and finance ministers agreed in late March to award Greece a
bodes well for a low default rate for the foreseeable future. second aid package to help restore confidence.

It’s unlikely that a simple solution exists for overcoming


How did the funds' varying asset allocations
these policy hurdles given the disparity of the needs and
across their glidepaths influence performance?
goals of the countries involved. In many ways, markets
We saw unusually strong quarterly results in general.
currently reflect this reality. For example, the spread
The portfolios with higher allocations to the more
between Italian and German interest rates today closely
equity-heavy funds — GAA Equity, GAA Growth, and
matches the differences we saw in the pre-European
GAA Balanced — benefited from the stock market’s
Monetary Union era. In the 1990s, those differences were
results. It was an impressive quarter for stocks as they
the result primarily of currency risks, while today those
posted both big advances and low volatility. Since we
differences are driven by credit risks.
pursue attractive risk-adjusted returns, the wind was at
our backs. At the same time, results were also solid for Policy issues aside, the economic backdrop is adding to
the funds with relatively greater exposures to bonds. investor concerns and complicating rescue plans. The
Outside of government bonds, many fixed-income 17-nation European Union was flirting with recession
sectors performed quite well, and our security selection throughout the first quarter. The gross domestic product
in these areas also added to results. fell in the fourth quarter of 2011, the first contraction
since 2009, and unemployment rose to 10.8% in
February, the highest in more than 14 years. Officials are
Interest rates around the world remain low
given global growth challenges. How has this forecasting a recession in 2012, which would mark the
affected your fixed-income strategy? region’s second slowdown in three years.
We continue to favor limited exposure to interest-rate However, there are vast differences in the health of
risk in our fixed-income strategies in the belief that the economies of the various eurozone members,
the potential rewards from a long-duration stance are with countries at the periphery of the currency bloc
minimal, while the potential risks are great. This low- struggling more than those at its core. Thus, many
duration stance helped performance during the quarter observers believe that Greece will likely face recession
as rates started to edge higher. That said, we also believe in 2012 while Germany and France, the eurozone’s
there are opportunities to take tactical positions at the healthiest economies, could sidestep recession this

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Q1 2012 |  Higher-risk assets led market rally as investor confidence improved

year. If eurozone officials can continue to hold off further What factors do you think will drive global
financial deterioration for their most indebted member markets in 2012?
countries, economists believe that growth could turn We think that geography is likely to be quite meaningful
positive in the second half of 2012. again in 2012. Europe will continue to struggle against
an intensifying debt crisis, we believe, and steps taken to
What investment themes contributed to address the debt crisis will necessarily subdue economic
performance in the funds in the first quarter? activity there as resources are directed away from
Broadly speaking, there was an important shift in our more productive uses. Meanwhile, China’s economy is
views early in January that prompted us to establish decelerating, and many Asian countries are trying to
more exposure to risk assets across global markets, gradually dampen inflation to achieve a soft landing.
including stocks and high-yield corporate securities. Many investors are looking to the United States, with its
We believed that the returns for taking more credit and improving job market and rising consumer confidence
stock market risk were likely to be very attractive relative and spending, as a pacesetter for global growth in the
to the volatility of those markets. coming months.

We modestly increased the weightings in stocks. While a slow-growth environment may not be ideal for
However, most of our outperformance across the funds equity investors or for the global economy as a whole,
came from other factors. First, our stock selection fared a somewhat cautionary environment creates a fairly
well, particularly among small-cap value stocks and attractive setting for corporate credit, in our view. Thus,
growth-style stocks in international markets. We were in the fixed-income universe, the fundamentals across
able to augment returns through stock selection without a range of fixed-income sectors remain attractive in our
adding significant equity risk. Second, we saw strong opinion. Defaults in corporate debt are well below their
returns from fixed-income exposures. An increased long-term average, and we believe the default rate is
weighting in high-yield securities added substantially likely to remain low, even in a relatively anemic economic
to performance. We established this positioning while environment, because many of the weakest issuers were
reducing portfolio sensitivity to interest-rate-sensitive wrung out of the system in 2008 and 2009. As a result,
U.S. bonds, which was a very effective tradeoff. Also, credit risk gained through exposure to corporate bonds
exposure to mortgage credit sectors, such as non- and certain mortgage-backed securities continue to be
agency residential mortgage-backed securities, helped attractively priced in our estimation.
results. These securities rallied after underperforming The flight to quality in 2011 created myriad opportuni-
in 2011. ties in the crisis-sensitive or higher-risk assets. Investors
appeared to have taken note in the first quarter of 2012,
Were there any areas of weakness? which resulted in the best first-quarter rally in global
Positions in commodities detracted from results. Our stocks since 1998. If macroeconomic worries recede
approach to commodities features an underweight at all, we think these higher-risk strategies could see
to energy-related commodities, such as oil and gas, increased demand in the coming months.
compared with a common benchmark in this asset class,
the S&P Goldman Sachs Commodities Index. During the
first quarter, this was a disadvantage because energy-
related investments appreciated while several other
types of commodities, such as iron ore, fell in price.

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Q1 2012 |  Higher-risk assets led market rally as investor confidence improved

Putnam Retirement Advantage Funds


Annualized total return performance as of March 31, 2012

3 years Since inception


Class I Inception Q1 2012 1 year (annualized) (annualized)
Maturity Fund 1/3/08 5.83% 4.40% 17.29% 3.43%
Custom Maturity Fund Benchmark — 3.35 7.91 11.30 5.09
Maturity 2010 Fund 1/3/08 5.11 4.11 13.56 3.58
Custom Maturity 2010 Fund Benchmark — 3.36 6.09 10.65 3.88
2015 Fund 1/3/08 5.31 4.52 14.97 3.19
Custom 2015 Fund Benchmark — 4.36 6.12 13.21 3.11
2020 Fund 1/3/08 7.59 4.05 18.15 2.66
Custom 2020 Fund Benchmark — 7.02 5.89 16.73 2.70
2025 Fund 1/3/08 9.48 3.28 19.91 1.67
Custom 2025 Fund Benchmark — 8.60 5.22 18.80 2.16
2030 Fund 1/3/08 10.85 2.54 20.91 1.06
Custom 2030 Fund Benchmark — 9.82 4.60 20.11 1.83
2035 Fund 1/3/08 11.52 2.68 21.52 0.85
Custom 2035 Fund Benchmark — 10.43 4.49 20.88 1.53
2040 Fund 1/3/08 12.14 2.84 21.83 0.49
Custom 2040 Fund Benchmark — 11.02 4.24 21.48 1.14
2045 Fund 1/3/08 12.57 2.75 22.31 0.28
Custom 2045 Fund Benchmark — 11.60 4.05 22.10 0.85
2050 Fund 1/3/08 12.98 2.86 22.67 0.33
Custom 2050 Fund Benchmark — 12.04 3.91 22.44 0.80
2055 Fund 12/22/10 13.08 2.93 — 6.91
Custom 2055 Fund Benchmark — 12.04 3.91 — 7.73
S&P 500 Index — 12.59 8.54 23.42 —
Barclays Capital U.S. Aggregate Bond Index — 0.30 7.71 6.83 —

Current performance may be lower or higher than the quoted past performance, which cannot guarantee future results. Share price, principal
value, and return will vary, and you may have a gain or a loss when you sell your shares. Performance assumes reinvestment of distributions and
does not account for taxes. Performance data reflects the impact of a 0.50% management fee. In certain cases, your plan’s management fee may
be lower and your return higher. For the most recent month-end performance, please call your plan’s toll-free number.
The Retirement Advantage Custom Benchmarks are unmanaged indexes administered by Putnam Management, consisting of various indexes that
follow the underlying strategies of the portfolios. The S&P 500 Index is an unmanaged index of common stock performance. The Barclays Capital U.S.
Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index of U.S. investment-grade fixed-income securities. You cannot invest directly in an index.

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Q1 2012 |  Higher-risk assets led market rally as investor confidence improved

The views and opinions expressed are those of Jeffrey L. Knight, CFA, Head of Global Asset Allocation, Portfolio Manager,
as of March 31, 2012, are subject to change with market conditions, and are not meant as investment advice.

Consider these risks before investing: International investing involves certain risks, such as currency fluctuations,
economic instability, and political developments. The funds may invest a portion of their assets in small and/or midsize
companies. Such investments increase the risk of greater price fluctuations. Lower-rated bonds may offer higher yields in
return for more risk.

The use of derivatives involves additional risks, such as the potential inability to terminate or sell derivatives positions and
the potential failure of the other party to the instrument to meet its obligations.

Funds that invest in bonds are subject to certain risks including interest-rate risk, credit risk, and inflation risk. As interest
rates rise, the prices of bonds fall. Long-term bonds are more exposed to interest-rate risk than short-term bonds. Unlike
bonds, bond funds have ongoing fees and expenses. Additional risks may be associated with emerging-market securities,
including illiquidity and volatility. Funds that invest in government securities are not guaranteed. Mortgage-backed
securities are subject to prepayment risk. The principal value is not guaranteed at any time, including the target date.

Money market options are not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or any other
governmental agency. Although the funds seek to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 per share, it is possible to
lose money by investing in these funds.

Request a prospectus or summary prospectus from your financial representative or by calling 1-800-225-1581.
The prospectus includes investment objectives, risks, fees, expenses, and other information that you should read
and consider carefully before investing.

Putnam Investments | One Post Office Square | Boston, MA 02109 | putnam.com EO153 274321 4/12