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If you're a contrarian, this list might offer an interesting starting point for your own analysis.

Below we present 8 companies that have raised their earnings guidance above analyst estimates during 2011. All of these companies have also seen net institutional selling over the current quarter, raising the question of whether these positive earnings announcements outweighed any negative information on the firms.

Do you think these firms’ earnings announcements are sufficiently positive info to buy? Full details below.

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List sorted by net institutional shares sold as a percent of share float.

1. AnnTaylor Stores Corp. (NYSE:ANN): Apparel Stores Industry. Market cap of $1.65B. Guided Q4 at exceed $0.14 vs. estimate of $0.14. Net institutional shares sold over the current quarter at 8.8M, which is 19.80% of a 44.44M share float. ANN is exhibiting strong upside momentum--currently trading 6.02% above its SMA20, 17.57% above its SMA50, and 39.43% above its SMA200. The stock has had a good month, gaining 17.7%.

2. Ascena Retail Group Inc. (NASDAQ:ASNA): Apparel Stores Industry. Market cap of $2.58B. Guided FY11 at $2.28-2.33 vs. estimate of $2.25. Guided FY11 at $2.20-2.25, up from $2.05-2.15 previously vs. estimate of $2.12. Net institutional shares sold over the current quarter at 7.0M, which is 11.13% of a 62.90M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 10.6% (equivalent to 8.34 days of average volume). The stock has gained 8.99% over the last year.

3. Big Lots Inc. (NYSE:BIG): Discount, Variety Stores Industry. Market cap of $3.12B. Guided FY12 at $3.05-3.15 vs. estimate of $3.05. Net institutional shares sold over the current quarter at 7.6M, which is 10.27% of a 73.99M share float. After a solid performance over the last year, BIG has pulled back during recent sessions. The stock is 5.05% below its SMA20 and 2.61% below its SMA50, but remains 18.78% above its SMA200. The stock has gained 0.85% over the last year.

4. Changyou.com Limited (NASDAQ:CYOU): Multimedia & Graphics Software Industry. Market cap of $2.05B. Guided Q1 at $0.93-0.96 vs. estimate of $0.85. Net institutional shares sold over the current quarter at 927.7K, which is 9.27% of a 10.01M share float. CYOU is exhibiting strong upside momentum--currently trading 20.8% above its SMA20, 18.59% above its SMA50, and 34.71% above its SMA200. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 13.11% over the last week.

5. 51job Inc. (NASDAQ:JOBS): Staffing & Outsourcing Services Industry. Market cap of $1.70B. Guided Q1 at $0.36-0.39 vs. estimate of $0.29. Net institutional shares sold over the current quarter at 771.5K, which is 9.62% of a 8.02M share float. The stock has gained 215.97% over the last year.

6. Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ:LULU): Apparel Clothing Industry. Market cap of $7.25B. Guided Q4 at $0.55-0.57 vs. estimate of $0.50. Net institutional shares sold over the current quarter at 4.5M, which is 9.33% of a 48.21M share float. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.64). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 11.02% over the last week.

7. Mentor Graphics Corp. (NASDAQ:MENT): Technical & System Software Industry. Market cap of $1.60B. Guided Q1 at approx. $0.15 vs. estimate of $0.06. Guided FY12 at approx. $1.00 vs. estimate of $0.85. Net institutional shares sold over the current quarter at 8.2M, which is 8.59% of a 95.42M share float. The stock has gained 50.26% over the last year.

8. Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ:SHLD): Department Stores Industry. Market cap of $8.92B. Guided Q4 at $3.39-4.12 vs. estimate of $3.09. Net institutional shares sold over the current quarter at 5.3M, which is 9.45% of a 56.08M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 10.52% (equivalent to 17.05 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.19% over the last week.

*Earnings data sourced from briefing.com, institutional data sourced from Fidelity, all other data sourced from Finviz.

Source: Contrarian Ideas: 8 Companies Boosting Guidance While Institutions Are Selling