NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- TheStreet ( TST), the digital media group that publishes this Web site, posted a net loss of $2.6 million in the first quarter while continuing to grow revenue from both advertising and its premium services businesses.

The New York-based online financial news provider on Thursday reported revenue of $14.1 million from its ongoing businesses in the latest quarter. In the same period a year earlier, the company lost $1.4 million on revenue of $13.5 million.

On an adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) basis, TheStreet lost roughly $478,000 in the latest three months, down from equivalent earnings of $566,000 in the year-ago period.

"We are pleased to start the year on such strong footing, with Marketing Services revenue up 19% year-over-year and Premium Services bookings up 15% year-over-year," said Daryl Otte, the company's CEO, in a press release. "We feel these results are a validation of our decision in 2010 to make significant investments in our business to support its growth and build long-term value."

TheStreet said average monthly unique visitors to its network of sites leapt 30% year over year in the first quarter, according to internal measurements, and that its average number of paid subscriptions totaled 92,228 in the first quarter, a 7% increase from year-ago levels.

"We also have continued to expand the quality and scope of our Premium Services offerings," Otte said. "Subscription counts are at a three-year high, following sequential growth in seven out of the last eight quarters. Moreover, our monthly churn rate continues to improve, reaching a two-year low of 3.4%."

Otte was bullish on the advertising demand the company is seeing.

"Our advertising sales pipeline remains solid, thanks both to the strong results we achieved at the end of last year in the annual 'upfront' sales cycle with our core advertisers, and to the efforts of our experienced direct sales teams to expand into non-endemic advertising categories," he said. "We continue to focus on growing the size of audience and volume of traffic for our network, while maintaining the quality of both, and are pleased with the progress being made."

TheStreet attributed the widening loss from last year's quarter despite improving revenue to increased expenses, including higher spending on sales and marketing efforts. Operating expenses rose 17% to $17 million in the latest quarter, reflecting increases of $1.2 million in sales and marketing expense, $800,000 in cost of services expense, and $600,000 in depreciation and amortization costs.

The company had cash and cash equivalents, restricted cash and marketable securities of $75.5 million as of March 31, down $3 million from its total at the end of 2011. TheStreet attributed the decline primarily to a $4.3 million reduction in accrued expenses and accounts payable, and said capital expenditures totaled $500,000 in the quarter.

TheStreet shares closed Thursday's regular session at $3.60. The stock is up 34% this year.

-- Written by Michael Baron in New York.

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