A  slowdown in the signing of new bank-branding agreements contributed to Cardtronics Inc.'s first-quarter loss.

Last week,  Houston-based Cardtronics reported a net loss $5.03 million for first quarter ended March 31. The  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.
Revenues, however, beat one analyst's estimate.  "The revenues were $1.9 million above our forecast," wrote Franco Turrinelli of William Blair & Co.

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 6.9% from 53.8 million. During an earnings conference call, Rick Updyke, Cardtronics president of global development, attributed the growth to consumers using cash to budget expenses in this economic crisis.

"Cash continues to hold its own," he said. "Most consumers favor cash over credit." Chris 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 47.3% 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. "Growth in bank-branding revenues have  slowed. Bank-management teams are obviously somewhat distracted by other issues," he said. Approximately 10,200 Cardtronics' owned and operated ATMs currently feature bank brands, the company says.

Cardtronics operated more than 33,040   ATMs in the first quarter compared with 32,474 machines in 2008's first quarter.
It is the world's  largest ATM ISO. ATM

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