A measure of performance on a risk-adjusted basis. Alpha takes the volatility (price risk) of a mutual fund and compares its risk-adjusted performance to a benchmark index. The excess return of the fund relative to the return of the benchmark index is a fund's alpha.

Alpha is one of five technical risk ratios; the others are beta, standard deviation, R-squared, and the Sharpe ratio. These are all statistical measurements used in modern portfolio theory (MPT). All of these indicators are intended to help investors determine the risk-reward profile of a mutual fund. Simply stated, alpha is often considered representing the value that a portfolio manager adds to or subtracts from a fund's return.

A positive alpha of 1.0 means the fund has outperformed its benchmark index by 1%. Correspondingly, a similar negative alpha would indicate an under performance of 1%.