Mean Reversion

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DEFINITION of 'Mean Reversion'

A theory suggesting that prices and returns eventually move back towards the mean or average. This mean or average can be the historical average of the price or return or another relevant average such as the growth in the economy or the average return of an industry.

BREAKING DOWN 'Mean Reversion'

This theory has led to many investing strategies involving the purchase or sale of stocks or other securities whose recent performance has greatly differed from their historical averages. However, a change in returns could be a sign that the company no longer has the same prospects it once did, in which case it is less likely that mean reversion will occur. Percent returns and prices are not the only measures seen as mean reverting; interest rates or even the price-earnings ratio of a company can be subject to this phenomenon.

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