*Lowe's to be "stalking horse" bidder. *Lowe's plans to have Orchard operate as a separate business. June 17- Orchard Supply Hardware Stores Corp has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, court documents showed on Monday, with rival retailer Lowe's Companies set to buy the majority of its assets for $205 million in cash.
May 22- No. 2 home improvement chain Lowe's Cos Inc reassured investors that sales trends improved significantly in April and May after seeing a weak start to the spring selling season. Like its larger rival Home Depot Inc, Lowe's said it was seeing strong sales to contractors.
*Lowe's sees higher sales in current fiscal year. *Lowe's shares down 1.8 percent; Home Depot dips 0.2 percent.