Business Dictionary (A)

Absolute Advantage

Absolute advantage is the ability of an individual, company, region, or country to produce a greater quantity of a good or service with the same quantity of inputs per unit of time, or to produce the same quantity of a good or service per unit of time using a lesser quantity of inputs, than its competitors.

Accounting Equation

The accounting equation states that a company's total assets are equal to the sum of its liabilities and its shareholders' equity.

Accounting Rate of Return (ARR)

The accounting rate of return (ARR) is a formula that reflects the percentage rate of return expected on an investment or asset, compared to the initial investment's cost. The ARR formula divides an asset's average revenue by the company's initial investment to derive the ratio or return that one may expect over the lifetime of an asset or project. ARR does not consider the time value of money or cash flows, which can be an integral part of maintaining a business.

Acid-Test Ratio

The acid-test ratio, commonly known as the quick ratio, uses a firm's balance sheet data as an indicator of whether it has sufficient short-term assets to cover its short-term liabilities.


An acquisition is when one company purchases most or all of another company's shares to gain control of that company. Purchasing more than 50% of a target firm's stock and other assets allows the acquirer to make decisions about the newly acquired assets without the approval of the company’s other shareholders. Acquisitions, which are very common in business, may occur with the target company's approval, or in spite of its disapproval. With approval, there is often a no-shop clause during the process.

Adverse Selection

Adverse selection refers generally to a situation in which sellers have information that buyers do not have, or vice versa, about some aspect of product quality. In other words, it is a case where asymmetric information is exploited. Asymmetric information, also called information failure, happens when one party to a transaction has greater material knowledge than the other party.

After-Hours Trading

After-hours trading starts at 4 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time after the major U.S. stock exchanges close. The after-hours trading session can run as late as 8 p.m., though volume typically thins out much earlier in the session. Trading in the after-hours is conducted through electronic communication networks (ECNs).


Alpha (α) is a term used in investing to describe an investment strategy's ability to beat the market, or its "edge." Alpha is thus also often referred to as “excess return” or “abnormal rate of return,” which refers to the idea that markets are efficient, and so there is no way to systematically earn returns that exceed the broad market as a whole. Alpha is often used in conjunction with beta (the Greek letter β), which measures the broad market's overall volatility or risk, known as systematic market risk.


An amalgamation is a combination of two or more companies into a new entity. Amalgamation is distinct from a merger because neither company involved survives as a legal entity. Instead, a completely new entity is formed to house the combined assets and liabilities of both companies.

American Depositary Receipt (ADR)

The term American depositary receipt (ADR) refers to a negotiable certificate issued by a U.S. depositary bank representing a specified number of shares—usually one share—of a foreign company's stock. The ADR trades on U.S. stock markets as any domestic shares would. ADRs offer U.S. investors a way to purchase stock in overseas companies that would not otherwise be available. Foreign firms also benefit, as ADRs enable them to attract American investors and capital without the hassle and expense of listing on U.S. stock exchanges.

American Dream

The American dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society in which upward mobility is possible for everyone. The American dream is believed to be achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work, rather than by chance.

Analysis of Variance (ANOVA)

Analysis of variance (ANOVA) is an analysis tool used in statistics that splits an observed aggregate variability found inside a data set into two parts: systematic factors and random factors. The systematic factors have a statistical influence on the given data set, while the random factors do not. Analysts use the ANOVA test to determine the influence that independent variables have on the dependent variable in a regression study.

Angel Investor

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

Annual percentage rate (APR) refers to the yearly interest generated by a sum that's charged to borrowers or paid to investors. APR is expressed as a percentage that represents the actual yearly cost of funds over the term of a loan or income earned on an investment. This includes any fees or additional costs associated with the transaction but does not take compounding into account. The APR provides consumers with a bottom-line number they can compare among lenders, credit cards, or investment products.


The term "annuity" refers to an insurance contract issued and distributed by financial institutions with the intention of paying out invested funds in a fixed income stream in the future. Investors invest in or purchase annuities with monthly premiums or lump-sum payments. The holding institution issues a stream of payments in the future for a specified period of time or for the remainder of the annuitant's life. Annuities are mainly used for retirement purposes and help individuals address the risk of outliving their savings.

Applicable Federal Rate (AFR)

The applicable federal rate (AFR) is the minimum interest rate that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows for private loans. Each month the IRS publishes a set of interest rates that the agency considers the minimum market rate for loans. Any interest rate that is less than the AFR would have tax implications. The IRS publishes these rates in accordance with Section 1274(d) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions. The term may also be applied to any machine that exhibits traits associated with a human mind such as learning and problem-solving.


An asset is a resource with economic value that an individual, corporation, or country owns or controls with the expectation that it will provide a future benefit. Assets are reported on a company's balance sheet and are bought or created to increase a firm's value or benefit the firm's operations. An asset can be thought of as something that, in the future, can generate cash flow, reduce expenses, or improve sales, regardless of whether it's manufacturing equipment or a patent.

Asset Management

Asset management is the practice of increasing total wealth over time by acquiring, maintaining, and trading investments that have the potential to grow in value.

Asset Turnover Ratio: Formula and Examples

The asset turnover ratio measures the value of a company's sales or revenues relative to the value of its assets. The asset turnover ratio can be used as an indicator of the efficiency with which a company is using its assets to generate revenue.

Assets Under Management (AUM)

Assets under management (AUM) is the total market value of the investments that a person or entity manages on behalf of clients. Assets under management definitions and formulas vary by company.

Automated Clearing House (ACH)

The Automated Clearing House (ACH) Network is an electronic funds-transfer system run by the former National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) since 1974. The ACH payment system provides ACH transactions for use with payroll, direct deposit, tax refunds, consumer bills, tax payments, and many more payment services in the U.S.

Automated Teller Machine (ATM)

An automated teller machine (ATM) is an electronic banking outlet that allows customers to complete basic transactions without the aid of a branch representative or teller. Anyone with a credit card or debit card can access cash at most ATMs.

Average True Range (ATR)

The average true range (ATR) is a technical analysis indicator, introduced by market technician J. Welles Wilder Jr. in his book New Concepts in Technical Trading Systems, that measures market volatility by decomposing the entire range of an asset price for that period