The stock market gave up modest amounts of ground on Thursday, but for the most part, investors continued to play a waiting game. In the absence of market-moving news on important macroeconomic and geopolitical matters, market participants seemed content to let major market benchmarks drift narrowly.

Yet some individual stocks saw big gains. TD Ameritrade (NASDAQ:AMTD), HEXO (NYSE:HEXO), and L Brands (NYSE:LB) were among the top performers. Here's why they did so well.

A buy order for TD Ameritrade

Shares of TD Ameritrade climbed 18% after investors learned that the online-brokerage giant might become an acquisition target. Ever since players across the discount-brokerage industry decided to eliminate commissions on stock and ETF trading, many industry followers have anticipated that companies would have to combine forces in order to find other ways to make up for the lost revenue.

Charles Schwab, which is reportedly looking at buying TD Ameritrade, got relatively little of its revenue from commissions prior to its strategic move, but a larger portion of TD Ameritrade's sales came from trade-related fees. Investors in the broker believe that by combining forces with Schwab, TD Ameritrade can benefit from cost savings that could help the post-merger brokerage giant be even stronger.

TD Ameritrade logo.

Image source: TD Ameritrade.

HEXO gets high

Cannabis company HEXO saw its stock pick up 33% on a great day for marijuana stocks. A committee within the U.S. House of Representatives voted to send legislation to the full chamber that would take cannabis off a list of illegal controlled substances, and industry analysts are optimistic that the measure could get a yes vote in front of the full House.

HEXO, in particular, has gotten hit hard by the headwinds facing the marijuana industry lately, so it arguably has the most to gain from entry into the U.S. market. Yet what happens next is much less certain, as high-profile senators oppose the measure and could prevent it from becoming law even if the House approves the measure.

L Brands overcomes a tough quarter

Finally, shares of L Brands rose 10%. The company behind Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works reported third-quarter results that looked tepid, at best, with sales falling 4% year over year and adjusted earnings coming in just barely positive. Yet L Brands was optimistic about its prospects for the holiday quarter, and even though the Victoria's Secret side of the business has struggled, Bath & Body Works is still seeing large comparable sales gains.

The retailer still has some long-term problems, but a lot will depend on how the coming quarter goes for L Brands.