What happened

Shares of Alibaba Group Holding (NYSE:BABA) gained 18.5% in January 2018, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. It was a roller-coaster ride with a thrilling (but slightly mistaken) conclusion.

So what

Alibaba started January is grand style, rising 10% in the first week amid a flurry of fresh partnerships and rosy analyst notes. The excitement cooled down a bit in the middle of the month, only to gain steam again when Wall Street firms presented optimistic previews of Alibaba's early February earnings report.

Young woman smiles at her smartphone, credit card in hand.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Alibaba's actual third-quarter report did not quite live up to the January hype. In a mixed report, sales grew 66% year over year and exceeded the analyst consensus estimate, while earnings rose just 25% to fall short of the Street's projections. Share prices fell more than 5% over the next couple of days.

That being said, it's hard to pin precise financial targets on a fast-growing business like Alibaba. The China-based e-commerce giant has its fingers in many growth-oriented pies right now, building machine learning into its shopping recommendation apps and exploring even more hypergrowth beyond China's borders.

All told, I'm a satisfied Alibaba shareholder who believes that the January surge ran in the right direction -- just perhaps a little bit too far, too fast.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.