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, an online publisher of financial analysis, commentary, news and independent research, has hired Allen & Co., a New York investment bank, to assist its board of directors in considering possible strategic alternatives, the company announced in a statement after the market closed Wednesday.

"Our Board believes that this is an opportune time for us to explore alternatives for enhancing stockholder value and building upon our accomplishments in both the electronic publishing and securities research and brokerage segments of our business," Thomas J. Clarke Jr.,'s chairman of the board and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "As we participate in this process, we will continue to focus on ways of strengthening these businesses.", the publisher of this Web site, said that no decision has been made as to whether the company will engage in a transaction. In a meeting with the company's senior executives Wednesday afternoon, Clarke said that since the

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deal was announced, he had received numerous inquiries about

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announced in mid-November that it will buy MarketWatch for $519 million in cash.

Founded in 1996 as an online business and financial news service, went public in May 1999. The company now publishes a suite of subscription services that are used by consumers and professional investors. In 2002, launched Independent Research Group LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary that provides research and a securities brokerage to professional investors.