Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA) has been on fire in 2017. With Tuesday's 1.05% rally, BABA stock came within pennies of an all-time high and put the stock up 81.5% on the year.

The company is set to report earnings on Thursday before the open. Despite the big rally and potential volatility though, analysts at SunTrust aren't backing away. They initiated the stock with a buy rating and $175 price target. Here's why they feel there's more upside.

"I've been behind Alibaba since Delivering Alpha" in 2016 when the stock was in the $90s, TheStreet's founder Jim Cramer, who also manages the Action Alerts PLUS charitable trust portfolio, said from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday.

This company is for real, he said, adding that Alibaba has a great business model and doesn't have any accounting issues. "I think Alibaba's terrific," Cramer reasoned. Can it live up to the hype?

However, investors should know that BABA stock tends to be erratic on its earnings day. Sometimes it spikes higher only to fade after the market open, while other times is tumbles at the open and snaps back. By the way, here's what Alibaba actually does if you're not aware.

So how can investors combat that volatility? Without tapping into the options world, there's one simple method that Cramer suggested: Buy half now. If investors buy a half position now, they will benefit from a post-earnings rally. Should BABA stock pull back, investors can use it as an opportunity to add to their positions.

Alibaba is a lot more than the Chinese Amazon. Do you know how big it actually is? 

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At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had no position in any companies mentioned.

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