A beat on something

failbetter

Senior Member
Chinese - Mandarin
On Tuesday, [a certain country's] retail sales figures will be released for the month of September. Over the past several months, those numbers have been generally disappointing. Now, investors are hoping for a rebound. A beat on the figures will prove that [last-mentioned country's] consumer is back, cash in hand, and hitting the stores.

I don’t know what “a beat on the figures” exactly means. I personally think it can have two different meanings: (i) retail sales figures for September is better than those for the past several months, or (ii) retail sales figures for September is better than analysts’ estimate for this month (as beat is often used in finance to mean beating the estimate). Which one do you think “a beat on the figures” really means? Here, what does "the figures" refer to?

Another question: if “A beats B”, can I say this is “a beat of A on B”? I ask this because I don't know what beats what in "a beat on the figures". Is it something else beats "the figures" or "the figures" beats something else?

Thank you.
 
  • snargleplax

    Senior Member
    English - Northwestern United States
    I think it refers to the actual sales figures for September beating the analysts' estimate for that month. In finance, it's common to compare a month with the same period in the previous year for many purposes, rather than the month before, so that ordinary seasonal fluctuations do not become incorrectly interpreted as trends.
     

    failbetter

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Mandarin
    I think it refers to the actual sales figures for September beating the analysts' estimate for that month. In finance, it's common to compare a month with the same period in the previous year for many purposes, rather than the month before, so that ordinary seasonal fluctuations do not become incorrectly interpreted as trends.
    Thank you. Got it.

    I still have a question: what does the "on" in "a beat on the figures" mean? Does it mean "concerning" like in "a book on astronomy"?
     

    snargleplax

    Senior Member
    English - Northwestern United States
    Yeah, pretty much. I don't know that the sense is identical, but I can't think of a closer paraphrase offhand.
     
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