Growth in tax refunds deposited into prepaid card accounts plus a mild winter across most of the country helped bolster Cardtronics Inc.’s first-quarter earnings, the company announced April 30.

The Houston-based ATM independent sales organization reported $191 million in revenues for the quarter ended March 31, up 38.4% from $138 million a year earlier. Net income rose 53.8%, to $10 million from $6.5 million.

“We had a very strong quarter on the top line, with organic growth driven by record same-store transaction growth in our U.S. operations,” Cardtronics CEO Steve Rathgaber said in the company’s earnings release (see report).

Cardtronics also benefited from “a significant increase in the number of tax refunds made on prepaid cards and subsequent ATM cash withdrawals from those cards,” Rathgaber added.

ATM operating revenue rose 33.7%, to $177.8 million from $133 million, while ATM product sales and other revenues rose 169%, to $13.2 million from $4.9 million.

Surcharge revenues rose 27.4%, to $83.8 million from $65.8 million, and interchange revenues were up 43.1%, to $57.8 million from $40.4 million. Bank-branding and surcharge-free network revenues totaled $28.2 million, up 30.1% from $21.6 million, while managed services revenues doubled, to $3.8 million from $1.9 million.

By segment, U.S. revenues totaled $157.9 million, up 43.2% from $110.3 million; United Kingdom Revenues rose 19.5%, to $25.1 million from $21 million; and other international revenues rose 19.7%, to $7.9 million from $6.6 million.

Total operating expenses rose 31.8%, to $36.9 million from $28 million.

Cardtronics cited expansion of ATMs at 7-Eleven stores in Canada and the continued installation of ATMs at San Antonio-based Valero Energy Corp. stores as other key first-quarter revenue drivers.

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