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1. The total return on an investment over a period of time.

2. A subjective measure of how an investment or the market generally is doing over a period of time.

3. In contracts, substantial completion of an agreed-upon task. That is, a party to a contract performs the contract when he has more-or-less completed what he has agreed to do, with no or only minor work left to do.


Performance, expressed as a percentage, measures the total return an investment provides over a specific period. It can be positive, representing a gain in value, or negative, representing a loss.

While return is reported on a second-to-second and day-to-day basis, short-term results are less significant an indicator of strength or weakness than performance over longer periods, such as one, five, or ten years.

Past performance is one of the factors you can use to evaluate a specific investment, but there's no guarantee that those results will be repeated in the future. What past performance can tell you is the way the investment has previously reacted to fluctuations in the markets, and, in the case of managed funds, something about the skills of the manager.

An investment is said to outperform when its return is stronger than the return of its benchmark or peers over the same period. Conversely, it is said to underperform if its results lag those of its benchmark or peer.


In contracts, the substantial completion of all duties and responsibilities. Note: The exact meaning of the word “substantial” is the cause of much litigation in contract law.
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