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This is a book review for William O ‘Neil’s “How to make Money in Stocks.”

After reading over 200 books on stock trading and investing, and reviewing them all on Amazon.com. I believe this one is the best of breed for clearly explaining a method for investing and trading growth stocks for profit. It gives entries and exit points along with the parameters to create a watch list. With this newest edition of the book, I will now have read “How to make money in stocks” three times, reading the 2nd, 3rd, and now 4th edition. I have to say after reading this book at different stages in my trading journey, and having used its principles in real trading, I truly believe this is the #1 stock trading/investing book out there.

Author William O’Neil is the modern day predecessor of the greatest trading legends, Jesse Livermore, Nicolas Darvas, Gerald Loeb, and Bernard Baruch. From the investing results of his proteges Gil Morales and Chis Kacher with their accumulative 18,000% return during the boom years that they document in “Trade like an O’Neil Disciple” he is likely the greatest living  stock only trader in the world. William O’Neil also runs O’Neil and Company and advises some of the world’s top money mangers. O’Neil is also publisher of the Investor’s Business Daily newspaper which he subsidizes because it is not profitable. (I think he publishes it for himself, so he can read his own paper each morning, all of his other businesses are profitable.)

At the beginning of the book you will see the price charts of the greatest winning stocks of the past 100 years. They are marked with notes to show you what proper bases look like and what a stock looks like coming out of a cup with handle formation. You will see the difference between a strong chart and a weak chart. It is very interesting to see what a climax top looks like right when a stock runs out of buyers and then investors sell in a panic. How the 50 day moving average relates to a chart along with the general market is also very educational.

The book lays out both excellent fundamental reasons for buying growth stocks using the CAN-SLIM method along with the rules on when to buy them. It also advises to cut all losses to no more than a maximum of 7% to 8% per trade, and to prepare to take profits when you are up 20% to 25% in a winner. The key is to cut the loser when it starts failing to make new highs out of a chart cup with handle formation, and also let a winner run and do not sell it unless it pulls back sharply or it runs to high to fast and fails to hold the new highs with a climax top formation.
The CAN SLIM method is based on a stock having these fundamental criteria:

C-Current quarterly earnings per share should be up a major percentage 25% to 50% minimum over the same quarter the previous year.

A-Annual earnings growth rates of 25% to 50%.

N-New products,new services or new management along with new price highs.

S– Supply and demand:big volume demand for the stock at key points.

L– Buy only the leading stocks in the top industry groups.

I-Only buy stocks with some institutional sponsorship.

M-Only buy into an up trending market.

The book covers each of these areas in great detail. This deluxe edition of the book also has a free month of eIBD, an action plan DVD, and admission to a three hour IBD investing workshop. You will understand the CAN SLIM system after reading this book. This system was built after studying the greatest winning stocks of the past 100 years both their fundamentals and technicals. This book is a wealth of information. It is not based on anyone’s ego, beliefs, or predictions. William O’Neil has turned making money in stocks into a science. AAII’s independent study showed the CAN SLIM method was #1 of many systems tested from 1998 to 2009 with an average 35.3% annual and cumulative 2,763% return over that time period.

The only thing I disagree with in this book is O’Neil suggesting buying and holding stock mutual funds for 15 or 20 year time horizons because unlike stocks they do come back and history has shown 10 year holding periods are almost always a win. Studies have shown you can double your returns in a stock index by simply selling when it crosses down through its 200 day moving average and only buying back when it crosses back above the 200 day moving average. I could not watch my mutual fund’s value melt away and do nothing, they do track the market very closely. I do not understand why O’Neil would put that in his book after the carnage of 2000 and 2008. I mentally can not deal with such large losses I go to cash from mutual funds in recessions and down trends. The book could have also gone a little deeper into the psychology of investing/trading, most traders and investors have huge problems cutting their losses, letting their winners run, and sometimes even pulling the trigger to buy the stock. I would love to have had a chapter on O’Neil’s thoughts on trading psychology. Also explaining the risk of ruin and position sizing would be great topics to add to this great book that has an excellent trading method.
Regardless, in my opinion the #1 book on a specific investing/trading method on the market today.