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TeachMeFinance.com

William O'Neill


William J. O'Neil was born in 1933 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He attended Southern Methodist University and graduated in 1955 with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in business administration. He was in the military and began working as a stockbroker in 1958 for Hayden, Stone & Company. While working for this firm he developed his own investment strategy that he named with the acronym CANSLIM. His use of this strategy led him to achieve the best performance results at the firm. He left the firm in 1963 to start his own brokering company called the William O’Neil & Co., Inc.

O’Neil bought a seat on the New York Stock Exchange when he was only 30 years old, making him the youngest person to ever do that. In 1983 he created the Investor’s Daily, a national financial newspaper that would go on to become the Investor’s Business Daily in 1991. In 2007 he was still serving as the CEO of William O’Neil & Co. and the publisher of Investor’s Business Daily. He also gives lectures and writes about topics relating to investment.


O’Neil’s investment style is based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative strategies. He pursues stocks that have a high possibility of rapid increases in value from the time of purchase. This can be summarized the motto: "buy the strong, sell the weak." O’Neil developed the well-known acronym CANSLIM to assist with identifying these stocks. CANSLIM can be summarized as follows:


  • C – Current quarterly earnings. Look to see if there has been a significant (over 25%) increase in the quarterly earnings per share since the previous year.

  • A – Annual earnings. This should also have increased at a compound rate of 25% or more over the previous 5 years

  • N – New products, management and highs.

  • S – Supply and demand. If there is a smaller amount of stock available, the price will be driven up by higher levels of purchasing. O’Neil advises to search out stocks that have between 10 and 12 million outstanding shares.

  • L – Leaders/laggards. Keep the high performing stocks and get rid of those that are underperforming.

  • I – Institutional ownership. Companies that are “under owned” by well regarded investors are preferable.

  • M – Market direction. Buy stocks when the market is in decline, but stop purchasing after there has been a decline of 10% or more.


O’Neil has described some forms of public investment advice by saying, "Since the market tends to go in the opposite direction of what the majority of people think, I would say 95% of all these people you hear on TV shows are giving you their personal opinion. And personal opinions are almost always worthless, facts and markets are far more reliable." He has also said, "What seems too high and risky to the majority generally goes higher and what seems low and cheap generally goes lower."

William O’Neil’s publications include:

How to Make Money in Stocks: A Winning System in Good Times and Bad, Fourth Edition

24 Essential Lessons for Investment Success: Learn the Most Important Investment Techniques from the Founder of Investor's Business Daily

The Successful Investor: What 80 Million People Need to Know to Invest Profitably and Avoid Big Losses



About the author

Mark McCracken

Author: Mark McCracken is a corporate trainer and author living in Higashi Osaka, Japan. He is the author of thousands of online articles as well as the Business English textbook, "25 Business Skills in English".


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