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MarketWatch cuts 15 percent of work force

The financial news Web site says it will lay off nearly 40 employees in a move to save money in a tough advertising market.

MarketWatch.com will lay off 15 percent of its staff, or nearly 40 workers, in a move to save money in a tough advertising market.

Shares in the financial news Web site started the trading day Wednesday down 7 cents to $2.83.

MarketWatch.com operates three Web sites--MarketWatch, BigCharts.com and U.K.-based FTMarketWatch.com--and produces the syndicated television program "CBS MarketWatch Weekend."

The layoffs are only a first step in a program to reduce spending, the company said. Reductions to discretionary spending will come in areas such as marketing, travel and entertainment, and contract services.

CEO Larry Kramer suggested job cuts in April when commenting on the San Francisco-based company's first-quarter results. The company had a work force of 255 people at the end of the quarter, and Kramer said he expected that number to be smaller by year's end.

In that most recent quarterly report, MarketWatch indicated that, like all of its fellow Internet companies, it was suffering from weak advertising revenue. Overall revenue was $11.8 million, down 5 percent from a year ago, as advertising revenue slipped to $5.2 million, down from $8.7 million in the year-ago quarter.

"As painful as this process is, we believe that we will emerge stronger and more agile to meet the challenges this market presents,'' Kramer said Wednesday. He added that the company plans to achieve its "financial goal of generating positive cash flow by the end of this year.''

MarketWatch also said it estimates a savings of greater than $9 million, excluding a restructuring charge to be taken in the current quarter, from its operating budget through the end of the year.