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TheStreet.com Reports Higher Earnings

Earnings results are driven by higher revenue figures across all businesses.
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Updated from 7:30 a.m. EDT

While the advertising market continues to dry up for traditional media outlets, the 77% gain in third-quarter ad revenue reported Thursday by

TheStreet.com

(TSCM)

, the publisher of this Web site, suggests that the Internet is a much different story.

In what is traditionally a seasonally slow quarter, TheStreet.com recorded ad revenue of $3.7 million, its largest quarterly total in six years. The increase helped power the online financial-news provider to a 93% jump in third-quarter profits.

TheStreet.com said it earned $3.1 million, or 11 cents a share, for the quarter, up from $1.6 million, or 6 cents a share, a year earlier. The earnings per share matched the average estimate of two analysts polled by Thomson First Call.

TheStreet.com's third-quarter revenue rose 58% to $12.9 million from $8.2 million in the year-ago period. In addition to the 77% gain in advertising revenue, revenue from subscriptions to premium services rose 49%, and other revenue increased 108%.

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Revenue from nonfinancial advertisers jumped 145% in the quarter. That segment made up 30% of its total ad revenue mix, compared to 22% in last year's third-quarter and 19% in the second quarter of this year.

During the quarter, TheStreet.com acquired Weiss Ratings for $4.7 million in a bid to broaden its online content and widen its audience. The company said the transaction is expected to be break even or slightly accretive to its full-year net income.

Weiss Ratings, which has been rebranded as TheStreet.com Ratings, is a provider of financial evaluations in industries where it believes investors are at risk. It currently tracks the risk-adjusted performance of more than 16,000 mutual funds and more than 6,000 stocks.

TheStreet.com is working to integrate content from the business into its own stable of online content. The first phase of this process has already begun, with free stock ratings now available on TheStreet.com's flagship Web site. In the upcoming quarter, TheStreet.com plans to make equity research reports available for a fee.

"We expect that such an offering will allow for both one-off purchases and monthly and annual subscriptions," said TheStreet.com's CEO, Tom Clarke, on a conference call with analysts. "The ratings content will be a catalyst of traffic growth to our sites and will support our strategy of aligning our content offerings with advertiser demand. It will also aid our movement toward our desired revenue mix to one where advertising is the larger portion of the overall revenue composition."

Meanwhile, Clarke said on the call that subscription revenue gains in the quarter were disappointing.

"This is why we are transitioning from slower growth to higher growth with our strategy of penetrating the mass market with an advertising-supported model," Clarke said. "The business and the underlying operating structure are in a position to use its cash to accelerate revenue by acquisitions, as we believe the Ratings acquisition will demonstrate."

TheStreet.com finished its third quarter with $44.3 million in cash on its balance sheet, up 41% from the same time last year. The company has no bank debt.

Shares of TheStreet.com recently were down $1.36, or 11.2%, to $10.82.