ProFund Advisors LLC on Wednesday launched the Access Flex Bear High-Yield Fund, a mutual fund designed to increase in value when the high-yield bond market falls. The fund follows on the heels of the company's recently introduced Access Flex High-Yield Fund, which is designed to increase in value when the high-yield market moves up.

Unlike most funds that invest in high-yield, or junk, bonds issued by companies with poor credit, the Bear fund will primarily use derivative instruments, such as credit-default swaps, to profit when the prices of junk bonds fall.

The launch of the fund comes at a time when junk-bond funds are faring as the worst performers among bond-fund categories this year, after averaging a 9% annualized gain over the past three years, according to Morningstar.

"Rather than sit on the sidelines when they think a market decline is imminent, the new fund offers high-yield mutual fund investors the opportunity to seek profit," said Michael L. Sapir, chairman and chief executive of ProFund Advisors, in a statement. "Or they could attempt to seek to offset losses by hedging high yield bond investments they don't want to sell."

There are no restrictions on the frequency of purchases or redemptions in the Bear fund, whose shares are fully exchangeable with the entire family of more than 40 ProFunds. However, unlike the ProFunds, these funds are not benchmarked to a specific market index.

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