Thursday saw a generally good session for the stock market, although certain indexes did better than others. Weakness in some of its key components left the Dow Jones Industrial Average lagging behind, but strength in some major technology stocks lifted the Nasdaq Composite around 1.4%. Investors generally celebrated corporate earnings and positive U.S. economic data, and some stocks showed big gains. General Electric (GE 0.21%), Avon Products (AVP), and II-VI (COHR -3.37%) were among the top performers. Here's why they did so well.

GE brings good things to life

Check out the latest GE earnings call transcript.

Shares of General Electric climbed nearly 12% following the conglomerate's release of its fourth-quarter financial report. GE said that strong results in its aviation and oil and gas segments helped boost performance, as did a solid showing for its renewable energy division. Even though earnings were a bit weaker than many had hoped, General Electric has nevertheless demonstrated that it has a new strategic vision under CEO Larry Culp that it's lacked in the recent past. It'll take a long time for the company to reach the finish line in simplifying its complex corporate structure, but in the end, shareholders hope that the process will eventually help General Electric identify its most promising business opportunities and then execute well to take advantage of them.

Worker kneeling at top of wind turbine with tools, showing background with multiple additional turbines.

Image source: General Electric.

Avon earnings calling

Check out the latest Avon earnings call transcript.

Avon saw its stock surge 24% after it announced plans to try to turn around its struggling consumer products business. The company will simplify its product offerings, reducing inventory levels by 15% and cutting the number of stock keeping units that it keeps available by an even more dramatic 25%. At the same time, Avon will seek to cut its global head count by 10%, adding further to labor force reductions made in 2018. Even with today's share-price jump, Avon's stock is still down by roughly 85% over the past five years, and it's far from certain that these initiatives will prove successful in the long run.

II-VI hits the target

Check out the latest II-VI earnings call transcript.

Finally, shares of laser maker II-VI gained more than 14%. II-VI said that revenue climbed 22% in its fiscal second quarter of 2019, helping to push adjusted earnings upward by a third compared to the year-ago period. An extremely strong 1.1 book-to-bill ratio pointed to heavy demand for II-VI's laser products, and the company's outlook for the fiscal third quarter was also upbeat. With most investors looking forward to the completion of the company's deal to purchase Finisar, II-VI is still working hard to ensure that it sustains its fundamental business momentum coming into the new calendar year.