Summary:

AT&T estimates that it will close the quarter with half a million new contract customers. The big improvement on last quarter is probably due to new promotions and some key smartphone wins.

HTC One silver featured

AT&T didn’t have the greatest first quarter. It sold a lot of smartphones, but it only brought in 296,000 new contract customers, less than half of archrival Verizon’s 677,000. But things are looking up in the current quarter. AT&T is projecting 500,000 net postpaid additions when it reports its Q2 earnings next month.

Announcing some key metrics ahead of an analyst conference, AT&T credited the contract customer gains to new promotions. The biggest of those was a $100 trade in program for smartphones. But my colleague Kevin Tofel also pointed out that AT&T has been particularly adept at securing some of the industry’s hottest smartphones earlier than its competitors.

AT&T was the first U.S. carrier to start selling Samsung’s new Galaxy S4. It also landed an exclusive on the 64 GB HTC One. We’re heading into a summer quarter where expectations will be high about a new iPhone release in the fall, so while the anticipation builds AT&T is going to milk its Android lineup for all its worth.

Ma Bell also said it expects to see report strong growth in U-Verse this quarter. But AT&T warned that its consolidated subscriber growth will have an impact on margines, which it is projecting to be lower than last year.

AT&T isn’t changing its financial guidance from the beginning of the year. It’s still projecting in excess of 2 percent annual revenue growth, but is building up its cash. It got $1 billion in additional proceeds from its YP Holdings (Yellow Pages) sale last year. It also took in $564 million from a partial sale of shares in Latin American mega-carrier America Movil.

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