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Analyst Watch: Apple, Construction, Nat Gas

Stock index futures edged slightly higher Friday as investors prepared for the "quadruple witching" expiration of futures and options, following a modest rise in stock on Wall Street in the previous session.

On Thursday, the Dow and S&P closed higher, recovering from earlier losses after a jump in weekly jobless claims and a weak Philly Fed number weighed on the market. There are no major economic data releases, or corporate earnings announcements on the calendar Friday.

Here's what guests on today's Squawk on the Street were watching before the opening bell:

Apple to $330?

Strong demand for the iPad and strong indications of demand for the iPhone 4G are going to drive Apple's stock higher, according to Andy Hargreaves, a senior research analyst with Pacific Crest Securities.

Apple was trading at a 52-week high on Thursday.

The company maintains a unique collection of assets, Hargreaves says, adding that the company has established a "dominant position in mobile devices that poises it to grow at above-average rates for the foreseeable future.

"There are always things that could drive a pullback," he says. "Continued macro weakness, rising costs in Asia, or a new health problem for Steve Jobs could all do it. In the near-term, I don’t think a big pullback is likely, though."

Although Apple trades at a premium to other mega-cap tech companies, it trades at a P/E ratio that is below Hargreaves' estimate for revenue and EPS growth through F2011, he says. Further, he sees the potential for material upside to estimates through higher iPhone and iPad sales, as well as stronger accessory, app and ad revenue.

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Construction and Nat Gas

David Stepherson, senior portfolio manager at Hardesty Capital Management, says the firm remains very constructive on the market because valuation is sufficiently low. That says to Stepherson that many risks are already being priced into the market. Also, corporate profits are strong and appear to be holding up.

So which stocks does he like?

Ultra Petroleum

Stepherson says UPL is the best run, most profitable land driller of natural gas in the industry, the stock is cheap and will start to move higher as demand increases.

Vulcan Materials

Construction spending funded by the stimulus package along with increased aggregate demand will benefit VMC, Stepherson says.

See more of what these and other analysts and money managers have to say, and get the latest financial news. Watch Squawk on the Street every weekday morning starting at 9 a.m. ET.

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Disclosure: Pacific Crest makes a market in the shares of AAPL.Stepherson and Hardesty Capital Management own shares of UPL and VCM.

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  • Carl Quintanilla is an Emmy-winning reporter and co-anchor of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street," broadcast live from the NYSE.

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