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Major Movers on February 19; ODP, OMX, SPLS, HUM, SPWR, GIS

Shares of office supplies companies Office Depot Inc. (NYSE: ODP), OfficeMax Incorporated (NYSE: OMX) and Staples Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS) are seeing a huge rally in trading today after the Wall Street Journal reported that OMX and ODP are close to merging.

Talks of an OfficeMax and Office Depot merger have been doing rounds for a while now. Office supply companies faced a tough few years following the economic recession. However, a recovery in the labor market, and cost cutting measures have helped office supply companies in the last one year. Consolidation is seen by many analysts as the way forward for office supply companies.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that OMX and ODP were in advanced talks. The Journal said that a deal could be announced as early as this week.

At last check, ODP shares were trading 17.86% higher at $5.41 on above average volume of 14.58 million. The stock rose to a 52-week high of $6.10 earlier today. OMX shares, meanwhile, rose to a 52-week high of $14.08 on above average volume of 3.31 million.

News of a possible merger have also sent rival Staples’ shares higher in trading today. SPLS shares rose to an intra-day high of $15.19 earlier today, and at last check, the stock was trading 15.23% higher at $14.92 on above average volume of 15.03 million.

Shares of Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM), a health care company based in Louisville, Kentucky, are sinking in trading today. At last check, HUM shares were trading 9.36% lower at $70.69 on above average volume of 5.80 million.

HUM shares are sinking in trading today after an unfavorable government proposal for Medicare Advantage rates in 2014.

Shares of SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ: SPWR), a vertically integrated solar products and services company engaged in designing, manufacturing and delivering solar electric systems for residential, commercial and utility-scale power plant customers globally, are seeing a huge rally in trading today.

At last check, SPWR shares were trading 16.51% higher at $13.34 on volume of 3.60 million. The stock hit a 52-week high of $13.43. SPWR shares have gained more than 31% in the last three trading sessions.

Earlier this month, SunPower reported strong fourth-quarter financial results. Chuck Boynton, SunPower CEO said that the company’s fourth-quarter results reflect the continued execution of its long-term strategic plan as it exceeded margin targets for the quarter and significantly strengthened its overall financial position.

Shares of General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS), a manufacturer and marketer of branded consumer foods sold through retail stores, are up sharply in trading today. At last check, GIS shares were trading 1.23% higher at $45.14 on volume of 1.46 million.

GIS shares are gaining after the company previewed its fiscal 2014 plans for stronger earnings growth and increased cash returns to shareholders during the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) investor conference. The company also reaffirmed its earnings guidance for the fiscal year ending May 26th, 2013 at the conference.

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