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In finance, “underweight” is a term used by analysts to recommend a decrease in the allocation of certain securities in a portfolio. It indicates that they believe the security might underperform when compared to the others. Conversely, it can also suggest that the security is expected to provide less return on investment than the average.


The phonetic spelling of “Underweight” is ʌndərˈweɪt.

Key Takeaways

Underweight: Key Takeaways

  1. Health Risks: Being underweight can be just as unhealthy as being overweight. It can lead to a weakened immune system, fragile bones, anemia, decreased muscle mass, and complications with body organs such as the heart and reproductive system. Underweight people might also face higher surgical risks and trouble regaining weight after illness or surgery.
  2. Causes: Underweight can be caused by different factors including but not limited to malnutrition, underlying medical problems (like eating disorders, hormonal imbalances, or some chronic diseases), excessive physical activity, stress, or metabolic factors. In some cases, it might simply be a matter of genetics.
  3. Treatment: It is essential to follow a healthy, balanced diet and regime to help gain weight. This includes rich food in proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, as well as regular exercise. However, it’s important to gain weight in a healthy way. Overconsumption of high-calorie, sugary, or fatty foods can lead to other health problems such as diabetes or heart diseases. Medical professionals can provide proper guidance for safe and effective weight gain.


The term “Underweight” is significant in business/finance as it is a rating that analysts give to stocks they expect will underperform or have lower returns compared to the average returns of a particular benchmark within a specified timeframe. This is often due to multiple factors – such as the company’s poor financial health, or unfavorable market conditions. As a result, analysts may recommend investors reduce their exposure to such stocks, or entirely avoid them. Ultimately, this term forms part of the guidance for investment decisions, aiding investors in adjusting their portfolio to minimize risk and optimize potential returns.


The term “underweight” is primarily used in the realm of portfolio management, specifically in the context of asset allocation and investment strategy. The primary purpose of designating an asset or a particular group of assets as underweight is to communicate the strategic decision to hold less of that asset in a portfolio than its weight in a benchmark portfolio. This could be due to a variety of reasons such as an unfavorable market forecast, an expectation of underperformance compared to other assets, or as part of a risk management strategy to reduce exposure to a volatile investment.Investors and financial analysts utilize this term as a guide to manage portfolios and make critical decisions concerning investment distribution. For example, an investor might designate a company’s stock as underweight if they believe the stock’s future performance will be less robust than other stocks in the marketplace. Therefore, the investor would own less of that stock compared to its proportion in a benchmark index, to protect the portfolio from potential losses. Essentially, it’s a tool to signal selling efforts and adjust the asset balance in the portfolio, reducing potential risks and optimizing returns.


Underweight is a term used often in financial markets by analysts when they suggest that an investment is expected to underperform, or it may refer to a portfolio disproportionately holding a certain investment.Example 1:An investment analyst working for an asset management group, after analyzing the future prospects of Company X, might assign an ‘underweight’ rating to the stock of the company because Company X’s sector, say technology, is expected to go through a sluggish phase over the next year. If an investor follows this advice, they may reduce their holdings of the stock to avoid potential loss.Example 2:Suppose an investor holds shares in several retail companies in their portfolio. A report comes out forecasting a downturn in the retail sector. As a result, the investment advisor may recommend the investor to ‘underweight’ their portfolio’s exposure to the retail sector, which means reducing the ratio of retail stocks in their portfolio.Example 3:Let’s say a mutual fund normally has 20% of its funds in industrial stocks, as per the benchmark index it follows. However, due to expectations of weak growth in the industrial sector, the fund manager decides to reduce this holding to 15%, making it ‘underweight’ in industrial stocks compared to the benchmark index. This could be a defensive move to protect the fund’s overall performance.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What does it mean when a stock is Underweight?

An Underweight stock refers to a situation where analysts or portfolio managers suggest that investors hold a lower percentage of a certain stock in their portfolios relative to the stock’s weight in an underlying benchmark portfolio.

How does an Underweight rating affect a stock?

An Underweight rating often indicates that analysts believe the stock’s future performance may be less rosy compared to other stocks; hence, it can affect the stock’s market price because investors might sell it off in response to this recommendation.

Why might a portfolio manager rate a stock as Underweight?

A portfolio manager might rate a stock as Underweight due to several reasons such as expectation of poor performance, high price volatility, disappointing earnings reports, or negative changes in the company’s environment or industry.

Is Underweight better than Overweight?

Not necessarily. Underweight and Overweight ratings should not be viewed as better or worse than each other, fundamentally. These are recommendations made relative to the percentage of the stock in the benchmark portfolio. Overweight means they recommend to hold more whereas Underweight means they recommend to hold less.

What should I do if my stock is rated as Underweight?

Investors should always consider multiple factors before making decisions. An Underweight rating is a recommendation, not a clear-cut directive. It may be prudent to analyze the reasons for the rating, evaluate your risk tolerance and investment strategy, and possibly consult with a financial advisor.

Can a stock’s rating change from Underweight?

Absolutely. Analysts and portfolio managers continually review and adjust their stock ratings based on new information, changes in market dynamics, or the company’s performance. A stock rated as Underweight today can be switched to an Overweight or Equal weight rating tomorrow.

Does Underweight mean negative growth is expected?

Not necessarily. A stock being rated as Underweight generally suggests the expectation of underperformance, relative to other stocks in the benchmark portfolio. It doesn’t directly translate into negative growth, although poor growth could be one of many reasons for an Underweight rating.

Related Finance Terms

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