The stock market was mixed on Wednesday, as the Dow Jones Industrials fell 22 points even as the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite rose slightly on the day. Investors continue to expect an improving economy that will likely spur the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, and that led to some solid results from the financial sector today. Yet many see markets being stuck in a holding pattern until after the inauguration, when the new president will have an opportunity to make good on promises to change government policy in a number of key areas. Meanwhile, some individual stocks posted extensive gains, and Fastenal (FAST 0.34%), Mead Johnson Nutrition (MJN), and CoLucid Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CLCD) were among the best performers on Wednesday. Below, we'll look more closely at these stocks to tell you why they did so well.

Image source: Fastenal.

Fastenal climbs on rising earnings

Fastenal gained 6% after the maker of fasteners and other industrial products for business customers reported its fourth-quarter financial results. The company said revenue was up 3% for the period, pushing net income up by the same percentage and leading to earnings of $0.40 per share. Fastenal has cut its headcount by more than 1,100 employees, due largely to attrition, and net reductions in store counts have played a role in cost control while having little impact on sales. The company's Onsite initiative has helped drive sales with key customers, and the safety-supply business in particular has benefited from availability through industrial vending machines that Fastenal has developed in recent years. With the prospects for the industrial economy looking brighter, Fastenal hopes to ride the coattails of its customers to better results ahead.

Mead Johnson rises on takeover rumors

Mead Johnson Nutrition climbed 5% on speculation that the maker of infant formula and other nutritional products might be a takeover target. Some believe Nestle could be in the market to acquire Mead Johnson Nutrition, but this isn't the first time the Illinois-based company has seen M&A interest. Reports suggest a major European investment bank could be providing advice on a possible combination of the two companies, but the relatively small jump in the stock reflects investors' skepticism that things will be any different this time around than they have been in the past, when similar ideas were floated.

CoLucid gets a buyout bid

Finally, CoLucid Pharmaceuticals soared 33%. The small developer of migraine headache treatments announced Wednesday that Eli Lilly (LLY -0.24%) would acquire CoLucid for $960 million. Under the terms of the deal, CoLucid shareholders will receive $46.50 per share in cash. Interestingly, CoLucid's lasmiditan migraine drug was initially discovered at Lilly, but CoLucid licensed the drug 12 years ago. Now that Lilly's priorities have changed, the fit was good, and CoLucid CEO Thomas Mathers said he was "excited that lasmiditan will be back at Lilly ... for the conclusion of Phase 3 development and potential commercialization." With Lilly's expertise in marketing and development, the outcome might be best for all involved.