In general, this means to do better than some particular benchmark. Mutual Fund XYZ is said to outperform the S&P500 if its return exceeds the S&P500 return. However, this language does not take risk into account. That is, one might have a higher return than the benchmark in a particular year because of higher risk exposure. Outperform is also a term used by analysts to describe the prospects of a particular company. Usually, this means that the company will do better than its industry average. Related: underperform.

Investing Essentials

Copyright © 2011 Campbell R. Harvey, Professor of Finance, Fuqua School of Business at Duke University

Term of the Day

Government obligations

U.S. government-backed debt instruments, which are considered among the safest investments possible, including Treasury bonds, bills, and notes, and savings bonds.

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