Fund management companies provide a great source of materials for this blog. Compare Evergreen's pitch with Pioneer's. (The entire ad is here.)
Perhaps this ad is targeted at highly sophisticated readers; it appeared in the Institutional Investor magazine. Otherwise, they cannot assume a casual reader understand "universe comparison" and "alpha", and how these two concepts relate to each other (or not).
While boxplots have been tailored in many effective ways, this particular variation on the boxplot would surely have Tukey turning in his grave. This is the boxplot used as gridlines. The six boxes in the plot are identical, and each includes the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. This information duplicates what has already been given in the vertical axis.
More seriously, the vertical scale should never have been percentiles. It should be the net return rate. In this way, the reader can compare the level of returns at different time scales. The astute reader will notice that the return was only 0.7% better than S&P during the last five years, even though in terms of separation of the dots, this performance appear equally as strong as during the last year when the performance difference was 3.2%.
And finally, a question for those in the fund industry: it troubles me that the chosen benchmark (S&P) performed at the 90th percentile in the last year. There appears to be two different benchmarks at play in this graph, one being the S&P, the other being the universe of funds included in the computation of percentiles. Therefore, if S&P were the right benchmark for this universe, one would expect its performance to be roughly at the median of the universe. This is clearly not the case, by which I interpret to mean that S&P is not the right benchmark. Am I missing something here?