Alibaba Holding Group (BABA - Get Report) posted stronger-than-expected third quarter sales Thursday and boosted its 2018 revenue guidance as the China-based giant continues to expand its presence in online shopping while investing in new artificial intelligence and cloud computing businesses as it takes on Amazon's (AMZN - Get Report) e-commerce dominance

Alibaba said sales for the three months ending in September rose 61% from the same period last year to 55.1212 yuan ($8.285 billion), topping analysts' forecast of around $8 billion. Earnings per share, on a non-GAAP basis, were $1.29, the company said, a figure that's up 128% from the same period last year and topped Wall Street estimates of $1.08 per share. 

The group also lifted its 2018 revenue guidance by 4 percentage points to a growth range of 49% to 53%, owing to its consolidation of Caniniao Smart Logistics Network earlier this year. 

"We had an outstanding quarter. Our consumer insights and technology innovation were the key drivers behind our customer value proposition across the Alibaba economy," said CEO Daniel Zhang. "We are seeing the early results from our efforts to integrate online and offline with our New Retail strategy, and consumers have benefited from access to high quality products, improved customer experience and the tremendous convenience of shopping anytime, anywhere." 

Alibaba, which was co-founded by billionaire Jack Ma, Asia's richest man, had 549 million monthly active users on its mobile platform at the end of September, the company said, up 20 million from the three month period that ended in June. Annual active consumers grew 22% from last year to 488 million. 

Alibaba shares were marked 3.53% higher from their Wednesday close in pre-marketing trading, indicating an opening price of $194.40 each, an all-time high that would take the group's market cap to just under $500 billion. Amazon's shares closed at $1,103.68 last night in New York, valuing the Jeff Bezos-led group at $532 billion. 

This latest round of earnings may give CEO Jack Ma another reason to dance:

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