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Delaware Diversified Floating Rate Fund Quarterly commentary June 30, 2015

Overview

During the second quarter of 2015, fixed income markets experienced significant setbacks as rates rose across the yield curve and spreads widened in several key sectors. Intermediate and long maturities led the rate rise as liquidity became a problem. With regulatory blockages, a shrinking repo market, smaller capital commitments at many key trading counterparties, and ongoing market volatility, liquidity will likely continue to be a periodic challenge. Past experience shows that liquidity-based market setbacks tend to be sharp but brief without the sustained impact of deteriorating fundamentals. During the quarter, the Federal Reserve pointed to slightly more upbeat growth conditions and relatively balanced risks while seemingly heading toward an initial rate increase in the second half of 2015. This “most likely” Fed scenario still seems potentially off track as it would come despite recent U.S. dollar strength, lower commodity prices, and below-target inflation statistics. Rarely has the Fed begun to tighten in the face of these factors.

While the “liftoff date” for the initial rate hike has been the policy question of the year, the trajectory of any increases is quickly becoming the more important focus. It seems highly probable that the Fed will raise rates in an unusually gradual way during its next tightening cycle. The Fed”s caution may be based on the continued struggle to break out of the “muddle along” 2%-plus recovery, but it may also be driven by its recognition that other factors have already started the tightening process, such as the stabilization of its balance sheet and the strength of the U.S. dollar. Recently, economic forecasters have begun talking about U.S. growth accelerating into the 2.0–2.5% range in the second half of 2015. If those projections turn out to be accurate, the Fed has good reason to be cautious. The Fed”s own forecasts should also be a warning, as members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) recently reduced their 2015 gross domestic product (GDP) forecast to a range of 1.8–2.0% growth, while sticking with their 2015 inflation outlook of 0.6–0.8%.

Domestic economic indicators were mixed during the quarter. In the labor market, initial jobless claims remained below 300,000 and manufacturing activity surpassed consensus expectations. However, the weak Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) number in June raised the possibility of a loss of momentum entering into the third quarter. Conversely, consumer demand and housing statistics provided a boost in sentiment. Those positives were further supported by the U.S. Commerce Department”s revised first-quarter GDP estimate showing a 0.2% contraction (compared with the previous estimate”s 0.7% drop), perhaps supporting speculation that port delays and harsh winter weather had affected growth. Second-quarter data showed the economy expanding again, but at a pace softer than forecasters were anticipating following the winter slowdown. Supporting a cautionary tone, core inflation rose less than forecasted during the second quarter, a sign that it may take more time to meet the Fed’s inflation goal.

Although the June Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting took on a more dovish tone, the Fed nonetheless maintained its policy target range of zero to 0.25%. Also, the FOMC was more specific in describing its criteria for raising rates: “further improvement in the labor market” (even though the unemployment rate is now back to spring 2008 levels) and convincing evidence that inflation (which has been running below target) is heading back to 2%.

The Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index recorded a negative return in the second quarter as the poor returns from Treasury securities turned out to be better than those from corporate bonds. Financials were stronger than other investment grade sectors, with utilities significantly underperforming. U.S. dollar emerging market bonds and asset-backed securities (ABS) produced modest positive returns for the period.

Within the Fund

For the second quarter of 2015, Delaware Diversified Floating Rate Fund (Institutional Class shares and Class A shares at net asset value) outperformed its benchmark, the BofA Merrill Lynch U.S. Dollar 3-Month LIBOR Constant Maturity Index.

Key drivers of performance are as follows:

  • The Fund’s longer-dated maturities among investment grade corporate credits generated increased price volatility relative to the benchmark. All major sectors, including industrials, financials, and utilities, experienced a slight negative return.
  • There were no meaningful shifts in the Fund’s allocation to the investment grade corporate sector, although we increased its weighting in industrials slightly and made a small reduction in financials.
  • High yield corporate bonds returned -1.33% and represented 2% of total assets. Holdings included oil and natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy and the integrated communications company CenturyLink.
  • Bank loans stabilized during the period amid more-supportive technical conditions. The benchmark’s BB-rated loans finished the quarter priced at $99.15, compared to the Fund’s loan holdings at $98.70.
  • Loans within the Fund returned 1.19%, which contributed 42 basis points of total return (a basis point equals a hundredth of a percentage point). The Fund’s average allocation to the loan sector was 35% with an average credit quality of low BB. Nine of the Fund’s top-performing holdings were bank loans, including Ocean Rig, Varsity Brands, and BJ’s Wholesale Club.
  • The Fund’s 2% allocation to collateralized loan obligations (CLOs) generated a total return of 0.31%, mostly as a result of income generation.
  • ABS produced a positive return of 12 basis points. The Fund averaged a 3% allocation to the sector over the period, but finished the quarter with a 4.5% position after moving to a slightly more defensive position.
  • The Fund’s exposure to interest rate swaps was beneficial, given the increase in U.S. Treasury yields during the quarter.
  • The Fund had approximately 2.5% of assets allocated to credit hedges at quarter end, including positions in iTraxx European Crossover, Investment Grade CDX, and Emerging Markets CDX. These holdings did not have a meaningful effect on performance.

Outlook

Our broad investment concern is the current disconnect between below-trend global economic growth and the quantitative easing–induced rise in financial asset values. Though we believe the ultimate reconnection will most likely come through a sharp decline in asset values (fundamentals will prevail), predicting its timing is beyond difficult and carries its own risks. While bond markets will certainly feel the adjustment, stock markets will probably be at the center of the move.

Interestingly, a number of “outside the box” market factors are warning that this decline in asset values could come in the near future. In no particular order, U.S. equity markets have recently seen a meaningful reduction in the level of new highs while an old — but frequently worthy — indicator shows that the Dow Jones Industrial Average recently reached new highs while transports were making new lows. “Confirmation” is critical in momentum-based markets and may now be waning. Also, while the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index has sustained an almost 20% pullback after a historic rally, the Japanese yen recently broke through key support and could be headed to much weaker levels. The connection here, of course, is that economic growth in China (and Asia as a whole) would be hurt by a further sharp decline in the yen. Finally, despite the apparent bounce in U.S. economic statistics over the past two months, a “relative to expectations” statistic, the Citigroup Economic Surprise Index, is pointing to weakness in U.S. data. In this very uncertain and volatile market environment, our goal is to position our client portfolios with prudent levels of risk.

Per Standard & Poor’s credit rating agency, bonds rated below AAA, including A, are more susceptible to the adverse effects of changes in circumstances and economic conditions than those in higher-rated categories, but the obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation is still strong. Bonds rated BBB exhibit adequate protection parameters, although adverse economic conditions or changing circumstances are more likely to lead to a weakened capacity of the obligor to meet its financial commitments. Bonds rated BB, B, and CCC are regarded as having significant speculative characteristics with BB indicating the least degree of speculation.

The Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index is a broad composite that tracks the investment grade domestic bond market.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index or PMI, published by Markit Group, measures the health of the manufacturing sector.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is an often-quoted market indicator that comprises 30 widely held blue-chip stocks.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index tracks the daily price performance of all A-shares and B-shares listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The Citigroup Economic Surprise Index is a rolling measure of beats and misses of indicators relative to consensus expectations.

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The views expressed represent the Manager's assessment of the Fund and market environment as of the date indicated, and should not be considered a recommendation to buy, hold, or sell any security, and should not be relied on as research or investment advice. Information is as of the date indicated and subject to change.

Document must be used in its entirety.

Performance

The performance quoted represents past performance and does not guarantee future results. Investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate so that shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Current performance may be lower or higher than the performance quoted.

Performance data current to the most recent month end may be obtained by calling 800 523-1918 or visiting delawareinvestments.com/performance.

Total returns may reflect waivers and/or expense reimbursements by the manager and/or distributor for some or all of the periods shown. Performance would have been lower without such waivers and reimbursements.

Average annual total return as of quarter-end (06/30/2015)
Current
quarter
YTD1 year3 year5 year10 yearLifetimeInception
date
Class A (NAV)0.19%0.92%-0.14%1.83%2.26%n/a2.10%02/26/2010
Class A (at offer)-2.57%-1.86%-2.84%0.90%1.69%n/a1.57%
Institutional Class shares0.26%0.93%-0.01%2.09%2.49%n/a2.34%02/26/2010
BofA Merrill Lynch USD 3-Month LIBOR Constant Maturity Index0.07%0.13%0.24%0.29%0.33%n/an/a

Returns for less than one year are not annualized.

Class A shares have a maximum up-front sales charge of 2.75% and are subject to an annual distribution fee.

Index performance returns do not reflect any management fees, transaction costs, or expenses. Indices are unmanaged and one cannot invest directly in an index.

BofA Merrill Lynch U.S. Dollar 3-Month Deposit Offered Rate Constant Maturity Index (view definition)

Expense ratio
Class A (Gross)0.95%
Class A (Net)0.95%
Institutional Class shares (Gross)0.70%
Institutional Class shares (Net)0.70%

All third-party marks cited are the property of their respective owners.

Carefully consider the Fund’s investment objectives, risk factors, charges, and expenses before investing. This and other information can be found in the Fund’s prospectus and its summary prospectus, which may be obtained by clicking the prospectus link located in the right-hand sidebar or calling 800 523-1918. Investors should read the prospectus and the summary prospectus carefully before investing.

Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal.

Fixed income securities and bond funds can lose value, and investors can lose principal, as interest rates rise. They also may be affected by economic conditions that hinder an issuer’s ability to make interest and principal payments on its debt.

The Fund may also be subject to prepayment risk, the risk that the principal of a fixed income security that is held by the Fund may be prepaid prior to maturity, potentially forcing the Fund to reinvest that money at a lower interest rate.

High yielding, noninvestment grade bonds (junk bonds) involve higher risk than investment grade bonds.

The high yield secondary market is particularly susceptible to liquidity problems when institutional investors, such as mutual funds and certain other financial institutions, temporarily stop buying bonds for regulatory, financial, or other reasons. In addition, a less liquid secondary market makes it more difficult for the Fund to obtain precise valuations of the high yield securities in its portfolio.

International investments entail risks not ordinarily associated with U.S. investments including fluctuation in currency values, differences in accounting principles, or economic or political instability in other nations.

Investing in emerging markets can be riskier than investing in established foreign markets due to increased volatility and lower trading volume.

The Funds may invest in derivatives, which may involve additional expenses and are subject to risk, including the risk that an underlying security or securities index moves in the opposite direction from what the portfolio manager anticipated. A derivative transaction depends upon the counterparties’ ability to fulfill their contractual obligations.

Because the Fund may invest in bank loans and other direct indebtedness, it is subject to the risk that the fund will not receive payment of principal, interest, and other amounts due in connection with these investments, which primarily depend on the financial condition of the borrower and the lending institution.

All third-party marks cited are the property of their respective owners.

Not FDIC Insured | No Bank Guarantee | May Lose Value