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TheStreet Open House

Facebook's Fresh Face: Tech Weekly

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Facebook's (FB) revamped News Feed and anticipation about new Apple (AAPL) products dominated the technology conversation this week.

On Thursday, Facebook unveiled its new News Feed, showing off changes aimed at keeping users more engaged and generating 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 up News Feed into several new tabs including All Friends, Music, Photos and Following. The social networking giant wants to make the feed more engaging. At the end of the presentation, Facebook said it was saying "goodbye to clutter," an acknowledgement of user criticism in the past.

With changes rolling out Thursday, the new feed will focus on three things: stories, a choice of other feeds, and mobile and desktop consistency, which could lead to higher advertising rates, according to Hudson Square Research analyst Dan Ernst.

Facebook ended the week marginally higher, closing at $27.96. The company has gained slightly more than 5% so far this year, falling behind the Nasdaq, which is up nearly 8% in 2013.

Elsewhere in the tech world, speculation swirled about new Apple products and ventures, and analysts continued to debate whether the tech giant's stock has bottomed.

Analysts at Barclays and Citigroup continued to trim expectations for Apple's iPhone and iPad sales amid skepticism that the company can maintain its profit margins in the increasingly competitive smartphone and tablet markets.

Citigroup analysts said this week that they're worried about both the iPhone and the iPad, reducing estimates for Apple's two major product lines and saying that end demand is softening.

"Indications of reduced demand to Apple's suppliers contribute to our existing concerns that end demand for 10" iPad and iPhone 5 in particular is softening, reflecting share loss by Apple in both the tablet market and the smartphone market," wrote analyst Glen Yeung, in a report. He cut his price target to $480 from $500, but kept a "neutral" rating on Apple's shares.

Yeung believes Apple's suppliers are seeing reduced demand for iPhone 5 components and he believes this is a result of softer demand for the iPhone 5, as well as the iPhone 4S.

The analyst wrote that expectations hinge on Apple launching the iPhone 5S in the company's fiscal fourth quarter, which ends in June. Even so, he's not expecting much in the way of iPhone 5S production in the fiscal third quarter of 2013, with just 3 million to 4 million units being manufactured,

Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes cut his estimates for Apple's earnings, saying that the second half of the year likely will bring new products and potential carrier additions, such as China Mobile (CHL) and NTT DOCOMO (DCM).

"Given our checks in the supply chain and factoring in increased competition from Samsung, we are lowering our iPhone forecast," he wrote. He cut iPhone estimates for the March quarter to 35 million, down from 36 million, with the full year at 150.8 million units.

In Apple's case, however, some on Wall Street expect that what goes down may eventually come up.

On Friday, Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha reversed course and said forecasts of Apple's falling earnings may be overblown, after a conference call with the company's CFO, Peter Oppenheimer.

Garcha came away from the call confident, noting "there are several longer term growth drivers that exist for Apple." He reiterated his "overweight" rating and $600 price target for Apple.

Last week, the analyst cut his iPhone sales estimates for the second quarter of 2013 to 30.6 million in iPhones from his previous estimate of 38.2 million.

That was due in part to a mid-2013 iPhone refresh, but also in part to impact from smartphones with larger screens from Samsung and other manufacturers.

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