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The market has continued to be rather bearish on the U.S. banking sector since the recession, but for a more specific look at who is being targeted, we ran a screen.

We screened US-traded financial stocks for those that are being highly shorted, with float shorts above 10%. We then screened for stocks that have also seen significant selling from institutional investors over the current quarter.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned below. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.

We also created a price-weighted index of the stocks mentioned below, and monitored the performance of the list relative to the S&P 500 index over the last month. To access a complete analysis of this list's recent performance, click here.


(Click to enlarge)

Do you think these stocks deserve such bearish attention? Use this list as a starting-off point for your own analysis.

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

1. Life Partners Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:LPHI): Operates in the secondary market for life insurance in the United States. Market cap of $115.38M. Float short at 19.33%. Net institutional shares sold over the current quarter at 2.1M, which is 11.34% of the company's 18.52M share float. It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 6.21% over the last week.

2. First Bancorp (NYSE:FBP): Operates as the holding company for FirstBank Puerto Rico that provides a range of financial services and products to retail, commercial, and institutional clients in Puerto Rico, the United States, and the British Virgin Islands. Market cap of $64.33M. Float short at 16.80%. Net institutional shares sold over the current quarter at 1.8M, which is 9.04% of the company's 19.91M share float. The stock has lost 37.08% over the last year.

3. GAMCO Investors, Inc. (NYSE:GBL): A publicly owned holding investment manager. Market cap of $1.16B. Float short at 16.16%. Net institutional shares sold over the current quarter at 249.7K, which is 5.39% of the company's 4.63M share float. The stock has lost 1.99% over the last year.

4. Highwoods Properties Inc. (NYSE:HIW): Engages in leasing, management, development, construction, and other customer-related services for its properties and for third parties. Market cap of $2.04B. Float short at 10.89%. Net institutional shares sold over the current quarter at 2.4M, which is 3.43% of the company's 69.91M share float. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 10.06%.

*Institutional data sourced from Fidelity, all other data sourced from Finviz.

Source: 4 Highly Shorted Financials Being Sold Off By The Smart Money