One of the standout trends in the stock market over the past decade has been the success of strategies that look for fast growth and momentum. In generally bullish conditions, investors have gravitated to firms with rapidly growing profits. And while these stocks can often look expensive, the momentum in their prices is incredibly powerful.

Growth strategies are popular with traders and investors looking for quick, upward price moves. It’s the territory of the multi-bagger. But make no mistake, when conditions change, it’s an approach that takes no prisoners. Unlike value strategies, which rely on a gradual correction of market mispricing, growth stocks and strategies can be much more sensitive to the market mood. So they need careful handling.

Some of the masters of this kind of investing are the likes of Mark Minervini and William O’Neil. Both of these American trading gurus have made careers out of buying stocks where earnings momentum and price momentum are rising in tandem.

O’Neil’s 1994 book How to Make Money in Stocks is an investment classic that followed years of research into the background of some of the best performing shares of all time. Its appeal lies in the excitement of finding companies that are seeing their profits rise and where the market is just starting to notice.

The popularity of this approach meant that O’Neil, a stockbroker by trade, could build a mini empire for what he called the ‘CAN SLIM’ strategy, which is driven by his online news and research portal, Investor’s Business Daily.

CAN SLIM represents the seven factors that O’Neil looks for in a stock. His strategy blends conventional ‘growth’ measures such as Current and Annual earnings growth and New product innovation with ‘technical’ indicators like the Supply and demand for shares, whether it’s the Leader in its specific sector, whether it has Institutional support allied with overall bullish Market strength.

Importantly, O’Neil tends to disregard valuation measures like price-to-earnings ratios when it comes to analysing shares. His studies of the market found that it was actually those companies that looked very expensive based on these measures that went on to be some of the greatest winners.

For that reason, the approach also carries a potentially high degree of risk, which is why he also insists on setting strict 8 percent stop-losses on entry points, which limits the financial damage that can be…

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