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Thursday's Early Winners & Losers

Whole Foods (WFMI), purveyor of organic food, announced after the closing bell Wednesday that it will buy out like-minded Wild Oats Markets (OATS), propelling both stocks upward. Whole Foods will pay $18.50 a share for the Boulder, Colo., company, or about $565 million -- an ample premium to its $15.72 regular-session closing price.

Whole Foods posted income of $53.8 million, or 38 cents a share, in the period ended Jan. 14, down from last year's $58.3 million, or 40 cents a share. Same-store sales rose 7%, compared with a 13% climb the prior year, and total revenue grew 12% to $1.9 billion. Austin-based Whole Foods was trading up $2.23, or 4.9%, to $47.93. Wild Oats was surging $2.61, or 16.6%, to $18.33.

NCI (NCIT) bounded past fourth-quarter expectations, reporting profits of $3.1 million, or 23 cents a share, on $64.6 million in revenue. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were seeking 19 cents a share on $58.6 million. The Reston, Va., company, which sells information-technology services to the federal government, guided to the higher end of first-quarter expectations -- 18 cents to 20 cents a share on $58 million to $62 million in revenue. Full-year income should range from 83 cents to 88 cents a share -- at least a nickel above the mean target. Shares were adding $2.12, or 15.3%, to $16.

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