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Facebook News Feed: What Wall Street Thinks

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Facebook (FB) unveiled its new News Feed on Thursday, showing off the changes it made to keep users more engaged, and hopefully generate more revenue. Wall Street is decidedly bullish on the changes.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook is "trying to give everyone the best personalized newspaper." It broke News Feed up into several new tabs including All Friends, Music, Photos, Following, Revamping Most Recent Feed and Games. The social networking giant wants to make the feed more engaging. At the end of the presentation, Facebook said "goodbye to clutter," an acknowledgement to a criticism its users have made in the past.

Here are what a few of Wall Street's analysts had to say about the changes:

Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Post (Buy, $35 price target):

"We reiterate Buy with a Px Tgt of $35. Facebook announced the re-design of News Feed, possibly the most important real estate for Facebook on mobile devices. The new look is more vibrant and in our view will help users better manage and organize their own personal news feeds. The redesign will be rolled out gradually on the Web and on mobile. The goal of the change is to increase engagement, and we think the changes better enable Facebook to match up vs. competing services like Twitter and Pinterest. Facebook's new design includes a new look for News Feed that can be organized based on friends, photos, music, following, games and groups. Redesign could mean bigger ads with higher prices."

Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia (Buy, $37 PT):

"We believe FB's redesigned News Feed feature could help improve user engagement and ultimately monetization. The redesign puts greater emphasis on photos (and videos) and makes them more prominent, allows filters for a curated and personalized user experience (the world's most personalized newspaper) and increases consistency of experience across the desktop and mobile. Reiterating Buy and $37 target."

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster (Overweight, $38 PT):

"Today, Facebook unveiled the first major update to its News Feed product since its launch seven years ago. The updates center around giving users more control over the News Feed by offering segments to drill down on specific content. Additionally, the update enhances the entries by increasing the display of rich content like photos and videos. We believe that, while not an exciting update on the surface, over time the new News Feed presentation could lead to improved engagement on Facebook as well as new monetization opportunities. We maintain our Overweight rating."

Topeka Capital Markets analyst Victor Anthony (Buy, $40 PT):

"In our view, Facebook's updated news feed offers better presentation of content, and signals that the Company is looking to garner a slice of the rapidly growing on-line video ad dollar."

Facebook announced limited roll-out of new News Feed started yesterday on desktop. I was included in that roll-out. It will also be coming to phones and tablets "over the next few weeks," but nothing specific was mentioned.

Shares of Facebook were lower in Friday trading, off 2.13% to $27.97.

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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