Renowned investment broker and founder of Investor’s Business Daily, William O’Neil, passed away at the age of 90, according to his son Scott.
Born during the Great Depression and hailing from Oklahoma, O’Neil overcame humble beginnings to graduate from Southern Methodist University.
After serving in the U.S. Air Force and working as a procurement manager in Alaska, he entered the financial industry as a retail-level broker at Hayden Stone in Los Angeles.
In the early 1960s, O’Neil experienced a pivotal moment in his career. He achieved remarkable success in the stock market by focusing his profits on a select few stocks, including Chrysler and Syntex, while also making a profitable short sale of Korvette, a prominent discount department store chain at the time.
At the age of 30, O’Neil became the youngest individual to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, earning recognition in Jack Schwager’s book “Market Wizards.”
David Ryan, a three-time U.S. Investing Championships winner and former portfolio manager for O’Neil, spoke highly of him during a tribute on IBD Live’s Tuesday show, describing him as a true gentleman and a rare breed.
Many employees and friends referred to William O’Neil as Bill, and he maintained a modest office just outside the IBD newsroom, frequently engaging in conversations with staff members.
A private memorial service will be held for O’Neil, with his surviving family members honoring his memory. Many members of the O’Neil family remain actively engaged in the diverse ventures of their family enterprise.
William O’Neil’s contributions to the investment world, including his success as a broker, the creation of Investor’s Business Daily, and his notable stock market achievements, have left a lasting impact.
His ability to identify profitable opportunities and his dedication to sharing his knowledge have inspired countless investors. The investment community mourns the loss of a true market wizard, and his legacy will continue to shape the industry for years to come.
Years later, William O’Neil established an undergraduate scholarship program in journalism at SMU, with Ali Coram becoming one of its earliest recipients.
Life and Achievements of William O’Neil
Coram now serves as the executive director of video content at IBD and is a prominent host of the daily growth investing show, IBD Live. She recalled how O’Neil’s advice on her first day at IBD to “always do more than they expect” shaped her dedication and work ethic.
The idea of challenging the Wall Street Journal’s dominance in business journalism took shape during a flight with company executives.
O’Neil had built O’Neil Data Systems, a successful printing firm, in West Los Angeles in 1973. The company became renowned for delivering large-format chart books, called Datagraphs, to clients in various industries.
Over the years, O’Neil expanded his ventures with the launch of WONDA (William O’Neil Dynamic Access), an online research tool providing comprehensive insights into the stock market, industry groups, and individual stocks.
O’Neil’s innovative spirit extended to the utilization of cutting-edge technology in the industry. He was among the first to employ a mainframe computer, enabling the creation of a database rich in fundamental and technical data on U.S. stocks.
O’Neil revolutionized research with user-friendly rankings such as the Earnings Per Share Rating, which scored companies based on earnings and sales growth, profit margins, and other essential data. He also introduced the Relative Strength Rating, a tool that quickly identified stocks with the best 12-month price performance.
O’Neil’s key discovery was that the biggest winners had a history of market outperformance before embarking on their transformative and potentially life-changing rallies.
The legacy of William O’Neil encompasses his humble beginnings, his dedication to education and mentorship, and his trailblazing contributions to the investment industry. His emphasis on creativity, aversion to debt, and groundbreaking innovations continue to inspire generations of investors.
As the investment community reflects on his achievements, William O’Neil’s legacy remains a testament to the power of determination and innovation in the financial world.