TheStreet.com

(TSCM)

posted increased revenue and a narrower loss in its first quarter compared with a year ago, but said its cash burn and total expenses inched up sequentially due to the costs of funding a new research unit.

The multimedia provider of financial commentary, analysis, research and news also reaffirmed its target of turning a profit this year.

TheStreet.com, which publishes this Web site, said its first-quarter loss was $2.1 million, or 9 cents a share, compared with a loss of $3.7 million, or 16 cents a share, in the same period last year. Revenue rose 39% from a year earlier to $5.7 million.

The company's cash burn rate was $1.1 million, down from $2.6 million a year ago but an increase from the $814,000 of cash it went through in the fourth quarter, when it posted a loss of $1.2 million on revenue of $6 million.

"Although our net loss increased sequentially, this was in line with our first-quarter expectations," said Thomas J. Clarke, the company's chairman and chief executive officer. "The primary factor that accounts for this is our previously announced investment in Independent Research Group and the associated buildup of the institutional sales force, which accounted for approximately two-thirds of the increase. The expected seasonal dip in advertising accounted for most of the remainder."

Advertising revenue was $1.2 million in the first quarter, up 69% from a year ago, but down 12% from the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, subscription revenue, which represents money paid for the company's suite of premium email services and access to various pay sites, was $4.3 million, up 42% from a year ago and up slightly from the previous quarter.

The company said subscription bookings totaled $5.5 million in the quarter, up 10% from last year and 30% sequentially, while deferred revenue stood at $6.7 million, up 28% from a year ago. Both figures are new highs for TheStreet.com, the company said.

On Tuesday, TheStreet.com announced that its new equity research unit, Independent Research Group, received regulatory authorization as a broker dealer. This status will, among other things, allow institutional customers to use order flow to compensate TheStreet.com for products they buy. In its earnings release, the company noted that the costs of starting the unit were responsible for the higher expenses in the quarter, and said that backing them out, cash burn would have been $711,000, a 13% narrowing from the fourth quarter.

Cash, restricted cash and cash equivalents stood at approximately $28 million at the end of the first quarter, down 4 percent from $29 million at the end of the fourth quarter.

Shares of TheStreet.com rose 23 cents, or 5%, to $4.70 on Tuesday and set a new 52-week high during the day.