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Time for OfficeMax, Office Depot to merge?

Office Depot Inc. and Naperville-based OfficeMax Inc. may need to merge after heightened competition for office-supply sales and a 26-year high in the U.S. unemployment rate helped wipe out almost $13 billion of shareholder value, some analysts say.

Office Depot, the second-largest U.S. office-supply chain, has plunged 90 percent to $1.16 billion in the last five years, more than any American retailer that still has a market value greater than $500 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. OfficeMax is now valued at $664 million after plummeting 78 percent, the third-steepest drop. Both trade at 10 cents or less per dollar of sales -- one-tenth of the industry average and ranking in the bottom five of 126 retailers.

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