NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Facebook (FB) - Get Report is holding its F8 Developer Conference in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday, March 25 through Thursday, March 26. In announcing the event, Facebook said experts from Facebook, Instagram, Parse, Oculus, LiveRail and other apps will provide access to the company's latest tools, make new product demos and lead "thought-provoking discussions" to help developers plan for their "next build and beyond." Facebook has often introduced new features and made announcements at the conference. The 2014 event was focused on Facebook's strategy to become a "cross-platform platform." Last year at F8, Facebook included announcements about its Audience Network mobile advertising network, anonymous log-in and mobile "Like" button.
WHAT'S NOTABLE: TechCrunch, citing sources, reported last week that Facebook will announce at F8 new ways for third party developers to present information and content via its Messenger app. The publication said Facebook will consider further expansions based on the reception of these early experiments with Messenger. Previously, Bloomberg reported that Facebook is developing a competitor to Twitter's (TWTR) - Get Report MoPub mobile advertising system. The product, which is reportedly among "several" developments in advertising the company is working on, could be discussed at F8. Facebook also announced on March 17 a new feature that gives people a "more convenient and secure way" to send or receive money between friends. The feature, which will be free and roll out over the coming months in the U.S., will compete with Snapchat's Snapcash. The New York Times reported that Facebook has been holding talks in recent months about hosting the content of at least six media companies inside its social network. The company intends to test the new format in the next several months, The Times said. According to The Information, Facebook is in talks with media firms including Vice, The Onion and Vox Media to produce short-form videos in an "Anthology" push aimed at injecting higher-quality videos into users' News Feeds. TechRepublic recently commented that Carmen Sutter, product manager at Adobe Social, thinks Facebook will emphasize messaging at F8 and feels the Topic Data announcement "could indicate a shift toward a data and real-time news strategy."
ANALYST PREVIEW: In a March 22 research note, Piper Jaffray said it expects Facebook will provide updates on the News Feed, Messenger, Oculus and adtech at F8. The firm sees Messenger as the "core" announcement, though potential improvements to the video platform and potential design changes may also be announced for the News Feed. Piper sees Oculus as an important long-term theme for Facebook, and the company may offer comments on the next version of Oculus as well as content. The firm has an Overweight rating and raised its price target to $92 from $84 on Facebook shares that day. On March 23, JMP Securities reiterated its Outperform rating on Facebook shares and said the company appears to be continuing to take share of total ad budgets. At F8, JMP Securities sees Facebook discussing engagement trends and product updates focusing on local products, events and publisher partners, as well as standalone product updates around Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. Brean Capital expects Parse will be a primary topic at the F8 conference, and sees some updates on WhatsApp, Instagram advertising and Messenger initiatives.
PRICE ACTION: Over the last twelve months, Facebook shares are up about 33%. Ahead of tomorrow's conference kick-off, Facebook is up 1% to $85.28 in morning trading.
Reporting by Laurie Pasternack Chan.
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