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TheStreet's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Stocks in this article: TST

Success here was demonstrated by the impressive growth in the size of the audience consuming our content. Our internal logs measured 25% growth in average monthly unique visitors during the quarter compared to the same period last year, while comScore measured a 45% growth over the same period.

Importantly, the primary source of this growth was from encouraging adoption rates from our new initiatives, offsetting a general softness during the quarter and interest in investing content by retail investors.

The weak demand for investment related content from retail investors appeared to us to be an industry-wide condition, reflected in the volume of searches Google processed covering financially related terms and third-party measurements by comScore and others, covering the overall size of the audience for the investment vertical.

The market challenges will be familiar to the investment community listening to our call today. Retail investors seeking to purchase a premium service to use to enter the market and start investing and the advertisers that seek to reach those investors, both moved to the sidelines in the spring of 2011 and had not yet returned by the close of the year.

Evidence of this includes the publicly reported new account acquisition rates for online brokerages, which were down in the double-digits.

Online brokerage daily average revenue trade or DART volumes were down generally as well and even broader exchange trading volumes were down.

Given these conditions, we were happy to have a strategic hedge, our new initiatives driving audience growth and extending our business into verticals less dependent upon the retail investor. Herein, however, some execution issues remain unresolved. On the advertising side, our team is not yet delivering sufficiently well in monetizing the new incremental audiences that are driving our growth, particularly in establishing new advertiser relationships in the business and technology categories.

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