Cardtronics Inc., the world's largest ATM independent sales organization based on machines owned and managed, today reported a net loss $5.03 million for first quarter ended March 31. The Houston-based company reported a $4.6 million net loss for the same three-month period last year. Consolidated revenues totaled $115.3 million, down 4.3% from $120.5 million. ATM transactions during the quarter totaled 89.3 million, up 7% from 83.4 million a year earlier. Cash withdrawal transactions totaled 57.5 million, up 7.1% from 53.8 million. During an earnings conference call this morning, Rick Updyke, Cardtronics president of global development, attributed the growth to consumers using cash to budget expenses during the economic crisis. "Cash continues to hold its own," he said. "Most consumers favor cash over credit." J. Christopher Brewster, Cardtronics chief financial officer, attributed the company's overall performance to lower interest rates, lower vault-cash costs, and unit growth in Mexico and in the United Kingdom. Cardtronics Mexico operated 2,094 machines at the end of March, up 47% from 1,422 a year earlier. UK ATMs increased 13%, to 2,544 from 2,252. Cardtronics, however, continues to face significant problems in the U.S. Banks and other financial institutions have cut their branding agreements, Brewster said. As business opportunities have slowed here, Cardtronics has pared expenses. The company unplugged 300 money-losing ATMs during the quarter, Mike Clinard, Cardtronics president of global services, said during the call. In a related matter, the company has hired an international search firm to find a slate of candidates to fill the CEO's seat left by Jack Antonini, according to Fred R. Lummis, Cardtronics chairman and interim CEO. "The interviews will begin in several weeks," Lummis said during the call. Antonini left Cardtronics in March with a severance package of $1.2 million, Brewster said. "Jack led the company for six years through profitable growth, but the company is much different today," Lummis said, indicating Cardtronics may manage banks' ATM networks.