What happened

Shares of AT&T (T 1.27%) leaped 14% this past week, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. Investors applauded the wireless leader's third-quarter growth metrics released on Thursday. 

So what

AT&T added 708,000 postpaid phone subscribers during the quarter, bringing its total year-to-date additions to more than 2.2 million. Postpaid subscribers pay monthly bills and are generally the most profitable customers for telecom companies.

AT&T's gains look even more impressive when stacked against fellow wireless company Verizon's (VZ -0.17%) results. Verizon added only 8,000 postpaid phone subscribers during the third quarter. AT&T thus appears to be winning market share at a significantly faster clip than its archrival in this important customer segment.

"We're investing at record levels to enhance our 5G and fiber connectivity and to deliver the best experience available in the market," CEO John Stankey said in a press release. "Our results show our strategy is resonating with customers."

All told, AT&T's adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations -- which exclude recently divested businesses --  rose 9.7% year over year to $0.68. And its free cash flow increased slightly, to $3.8 billion.  

Now what 

Based on these solid results, AT&T expects to deliver adjusted earnings of at least $2.50 per share in 2022. The company also reiterated its full-year free cash flow target of $14 billion, which Stankey noted was "more than ample" to cover AT&T's $8 billion of projected dividend payments to shareholders.