First Data Corp.'s first-quarter loss widened on a reduced income tax benefit while operating earnings more than doubled and revenue increased on a merchant alliance with Bank of America Corp.

The electronic payments processor has been in the red since it was taken private by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. in 2007 in a $26.4 billion deal that saddled the company with debt. The company had $22.4 billion of long-term debt as of March 31, up 0.4% from the end of 2009.

Fitch Ratings last week, however, said it expects First Data's 2010 revenue to increase in the high-single digits as the global economic recovery and continued trends favoring electronic payments.

The company reported a loss of $240 million, compared with a prior-year loss of $231.3 million. Revenue increased 16% to $2.4 billion. Excluding reimbursable debit-network fees and other impacts, adjusted revenue rose 3%.

Sales at retail and alliance services, its largest business, rose 7% on 9% transaction growth excluding the Bank of America deal. Profit fell 6%. International revenue climbed 4% on a constant-currency basis, but earnings dropped that amount, as transaction growth climbed 14%.