Thursday was largely a down day on Wall Street, as market participants became nervous once again about the prospects for global macroeconomic growth and geopolitical stability. Major stock indexes generally declined close to half a percent, and a lot of attention focused on the possibility that the long U.S. economic expansion might finally be coming to an end, prompting the need for greater accommodation from the Federal Reserve and the federal government. Yet positive earnings reports sent some stocks higher. Avis Budget Group (CAR 2.29%), Grand Canyon Education (LOPE -0.07%), and Delphi Technologies (DLPH) were among the top performers. Here's why they did so well.

Check out the latest Delphi, Grand Canyon Education, and Avis earnings call transcripts.

Avis tries harder

Shares of Avis Budget Group soared 17% after the rental car specialist reported its fourth-quarter financial results. Revenue inched higher at Avis by 2% during the fourth quarter, but the company benefited from a 7% reduction in per-unit fleet costs in the Americas, and that helped to produce an 18% boost to adjusted earnings per share compared to the year-earlier quarter. Moreover, Avis is optimistic about 2019, saying that it expects further incremental sales growth that could produce earnings growth of as much as 15% at the top end of its guidance range compared to 2018's final figures. Avis still has to figure out how to adapt to ride-sharing and other changing trends in auto use, but it's making progress, and shareholders are recognizing the value of the transformation that the rental car company has pursued.

Rising stock charts superimposed over digital map of the world

Image source: Getty Images.

Investors feel smart about Grand Canyon Education

Educational services specialist Grand Canyon Education saw its stock climb more than 21% following the release of its fourth-quarter financial report. The company, which provides educational services for students at Grand Canyon University, said that adjusted revenue climbed 9% from year-ago levels, resulting in a nearly 16% rise in adjusted operating income. Enrollment levels were higher by more than 7,000 students to 97,369, and investors were generally pleased with Grand Canyon Education's guidance for 2019. For-profit education has been a challenging sector over the past several years, but Grand Canyon Education might well have found the best way to succeed in the space.

Delphi drives ahead

Finally, shares of Delphi Technologies jumped 19%. At first glance, the auto parts specialist's results looked poor, as Delphi suffered declines in both revenue and adjusted net income during the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to the year-earlier period. The company pointed to substantial sales declines in the Asia-Pacific region for the top-line hit and a less favorable mix of product sales for the pressure on profits. Yet even though guidance for 2019 implied further challenges for the company, Delphi seems optimistic about its long-term prospects. With $10 billion of new business coming in during 2018, Delphi could build momentum that could help it surpass its somewhat lackluster expectations over the coming year.