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TheStreet.com closes UK operations, announces more layoffs

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TheStreet.com shares plunged 37 cents, or 10 percent, to $3.12 Thursday after the online financial news provider said it will shutter its operations in the United Kingdom, take a hefty charge in its fourth-quarter and lay off 20 percent of its staff.

Company officials said TheStreet.co.uk, which accounted for about $9 million of the company's consolidated losses in the first three quarters this year, will run out of cash by year's end.

It also said it will "wind down" its joint-venture newsroom with the New York Times by the end of this month.

The layoffs will affect roughly 40 full-time employees.

"In today's environment, companies have two clear choices: chart a direct path to profitability or shut down," said CEO Thomas Clarke in a prepared release. "In light of the circumstances, and our focus on getting to profitability as soon as possible, it made sense for us to spend some money now to save a lot more later."

TheStreet.com expects to take a charge of between $6 million to $8.5 million in the fourth quarter for discontinuing operations.

Last quarter, it topped analysts' reduced estimates when it posted a loss of $8.9 million, or 34 cents a share, on sales of $6.2 million.

First Call Corp. consensus expects it to lose 31 cents a share in the fourth quarter and 94 cents a share in fiscal 2001.

The stock peaked at $22 in January before falling to a low of $2.63 in October.

Five of the seven analysts following the stock maintain a "hold" recommendation.