The stock market was mostly lower on Thursday, with major market benchmarks falling under the weight of downward pressure from some poor earnings performance among their components. However, for Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY), CenturyLink (NYSE:LUMN), and Shutterfly (NASDAQ:SFLY), the news was a lot better. Below, we'll tell you why these three stocks were among the best performers on the day.

Image source: Getty Images.

Bristol-Myers has a good quarter

Bristol-Myers Squibb gained 5% after reporting third-quarter results that made investors optimistic about the drugmaker's future. The company said that sales of key drugs soared, including a 90% rise in its Eliquis treatment to fight blood clots, gains of 15% for its Sprycel leukemia drug, and a 19% rise for melanoma drug Yervoy. Moreover, the company announced a new $3 billion stock buyback program and boosted its guidance for 2016 earnings by $0.25 per share, or nearly 10%. Cost containment measures have paid off on Bristol's bottom line, and investors hope that even though the company's key Opdivo treatment for various types of cancer had negative results in recent trials, Bristol will eventually be able to get past those trials and see all of its pipeline drugs reach their full potential.

CenturyLink ponders a new connection

CenturyLink jumped 10% in the wake of reports that the telecom company is discussing the possibility of merging with Level 3 Technologies (NYSE:LVLT). By bringing together a mid-sized telecommunications player and a provider of communications infrastructure, a merger between CenturyLink and Level 3 would potentially open up new markets for both companies and allow the combined entity to gain scale to compete with its much larger rivals. Moreover, for CenturyLink, the opportunity to get more broadly into business services could give it a strategic path forward as its local phone customer counts are likely to fall steadily over time.

Shutterfly takes a pretty picture

Finally, Shutterfly jumped 12%. The provider of photo services and customized cards reported its third-quarter financials Wednesday night, and even though it lost money, Shutterfly's losses were much smaller than most had anticipated. The company managed to cut its losses roughly in half and posted double-digit revenue increases, spurring some to believe that Shutterfly's efforts to update its mobile app and increase adoption of its cloud-based services are finally starting to pay off. With its most important quarter coming up because of the holiday season, Shutterfly's guidance for the fourth quarter was solid even though it foresees a decline from year-ago levels. Overall, if Shutterfly can successfully broaden its scope to incorporate more business services, the company has a good chance of building more momentum throughout the holidays and into 2017.

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.