Thursday was a down day for the stock market, but major market benchmarks didn't lose nearly as much ground as investors might have expected earlier in the day. The Dow Jones Industrials (^DJI 0.04%) finished the day down about 60 points, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite suffered similar losses on a percentage basis. Yet the Dow had been down as much as 180 points earlier in the day, and the rebound generally reflected the still-positive sentiment that investors generally have. In addition, some individual companies had good news, and Polaris Industries (PII 1.76%), Applied Optoelectronics (AAOI 2.59%), and Straight Path Communications (NYSEMKT: STRP) were among the best performers on the day. Below, we'll look more closely at these stocks to tell you why they did so well.

Image source: Polaris Industries.

Polaris bounces back from declines after a key strategic move

Polaris Industries rose 6%, reversing all of the losses the maker of consumer power-sports equipment suffered since Monday after announcing a key strategic decision. On Monday, Polaris said it would wind down its Victory Motorcycles brand, helping its dealers liquidate existing inventory and committing to stocking parts for a 10-year period to support existing customers. The move was a difficult one for Polaris, but CEO Scott Wine said that struggles to get enough market share and rising competitive pressure led the company to choose the Indian Motorcycle brand as Polaris' focus for the future. Initial disappointment from the decision contributed to a 3% drop Monday and further losses during the following days, but Polaris investors seemed to buy into the idea that stronger long-term profitability will be the reward for the painful move.

Applied Optoelectronics soars on fourth-quarter guidance

Applied Optoelectronics soared more than 30% after the maker of fiber-optic network products issued preliminary figures for its fourth quarter. The company said it expects revenue and adjusted net income that was far higher than its initial outlook, including adjusted earnings of $0.77 to $0.82 per share compared to the previous guidance for $0.46 to $0.51 per share. The company does business with major customers, which include the giants of the data-center and cloud-computing industry. Now that companies are working to boost their data-center presence in order to take full advantage of analytic processing and cloud-based systems, investors are hopeful that Applied Optoelectronics will keep getting its share of growth in the sector.

Straight Path gets things straight with the FCC

Finally, Straight Path Communications soared by nearly a third. The company said early Thursday that it had settled a dispute with the Federal Communications Commission related to the company's wireless spectrum licenses. The FCC had been investigating Straight Path, but the investigation will end as a result of the settlement, and Straight Path now expects that it should be able to review various strategic alternatives in order to unlock value for its shareholders. Under the settlement, Straight Path will pay $15 million to the FCC over the next nine months, as well as 20% of proceeds from any possible future sale of its spectrum assets. If it doesn't make a sale within the next year, it will pay an additional $85 million to the FCC. Investors were happy that the company was managing to put the episode behind it, and they seem hopeful that its efforts will eventually lead to a full acquisition or asset sale that could make their positions more profitable.