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For a look at some of the most popular stocks today, one great source is institutional purchases. Institutional investors, such as mutual fund managers and hedge fund managers, report their buying usually on a quarterly basis, and this is interesting data to investors looking for interesting stock ideas.

We ran a screen on the consumer goods sector for stocks seeing the most significant net institutional purchases over the current quarter.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the top six 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.

Do you think these stocks will outperform like the "smart money" expects? Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis.

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

1. Vera Bradley, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRA): Engages in the design, production, marketing, and retail of functional accessories for women under the "Vera Bradley" brand. Market cap of $1.32B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 4.7M, which is 23.80% of the company's 19.75M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 50.21% (equivalent to 15.67 days of average volume). The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 12.57%.

2. Boston Beer Co. Inc. (NYSE:SAM): Produces and sells alcohol beverages primarily in the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel, the Caribbean, the Pacific Rim, and Mexico. Market cap of $1.31B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 1.2M, which is 14.39% of the company's 8.34M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 20% (equivalent to 16.26 days of average volume). It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 6.59% over the last week.

3. iRobot Corporation (NASDAQ:IRBT): Designs and builds robots for the consumer, government, and industrial markets. Market cap of $815.80M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 3.1M, which is 12.61% of the company's 24.58M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 15.08% (equivalent to 11.62 days of average volume). The stock has gained 14.71% over the last year.

4. Tempur Pedic International Inc. (NYSE:TPX): Distributes bedding products worldwide. Market cap of $3.86B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 6.4M, which is 10.66% of the company's 60.06M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 20.53% (equivalent to 7.03 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 8.77% over the last week.

5. Tesla Motors, Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA): Designs, develops, manufactures, and sells electric vehicles and advanced electric vehicle powertrain components. Market cap of $2.81B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 5.6M, which is 8.92% of the company's 62.77M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 43.64% (equivalent to 23.12 days of average volume). It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 6.33% over the last week.

6. Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL): Develops and markets products and services for the hospitality, foodservice, healthcare, and industrial markets primarily in the United States. Market cap of $13.53B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 16.9M, which is 8.03% of the company's 210.57M share float. The stock has gained 19.13% over the last year.

7. Visteon Corp. (NYSE:VC): Supplies automotive systems, modules, and components to automotive original equipment manufacturers worldwide. Market cap of $2.70B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 3.8M, which is 7.49% of the company's 50.74M share float. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 6.79% over the last week.

8. Select Comfort Corporation (NASDAQ:SCSS): Develops, manufactures, markets, and supports adjustable-firmness beds and other sleep-related accessory products in the U. Market cap of $1.35B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 3.5M, which is 6.94% of the company's 50.46M share float. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 9.04% over the last week.

9. Arctic Cat Inc. (NASDAQ:ACAT): Designs, engineers, manufactures, and markets snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles under the Arctic Cat brand name in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $412.26M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 589.4K, which is 6.85% of the company's 8.60M share float. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.02). The stock has had a good month, gaining 16.07%.

10. Diamond Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ:DMND): Engages in processing, marketing, and distributing snack products, as well as culinary, in-shell, and ingredient nuts. Market cap of $730.63M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 1.3M, which is 6.68% of the company's 19.47M share float. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.11% over the last week.

11. Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE:OSK): Designs, manufactures, and markets a range of access equipment, specialty vehicles, and vehicle bodies worldwide. Market cap of $2.11B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 5.2M, which is 6.35% of the company's 81.86M 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 8.29% over the last week.

12. Skechers USA Inc. (NYSE:SKX): Engages in the design, development, marketing, and distribution of footwear for men, women, and children in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $583.71M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 2.5M, which is 6.19% of the company's 40.38M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 17.2% (equivalent to 7.15 days of average volume). It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 5.11% over the last week.

13. Smart Balance, Inc (SMBL): Distributes various food products in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $307.08M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 2.9M, which is 5.94% of the company's 48.84M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 5.56% (equivalent to 6.22 days of average volume). It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 5.1% over the last week.

14. Polaris Industries, Inc. (NYSE:PII): Designs, engineers, and manufactures off-road vehicles. Market cap of $4.06B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 3.4M, which is 5.29% of the company's 64.24M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 8.69% (equivalent to 5.93 days of average volume). The stock has gained 63.3% over the last year.

15. Vector Group Ltd. (NYSE:VGR): Engages in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes in the United States. Market cap of $1.40B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 2.4M, which is 4.95% of the company's 48.45M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 10% (equivalent to 14.03 days of average volume). The stock has gained 8.82% over the last year.

16. Gentex Corp. (NASDAQ:GNTX): Designs, develops, manufactures, and markets electro-optical products to automotive, commercial building, and aircraft industries in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $4.30B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 6.1M, which is 4.40% of the company's 138.58M share float. The stock has lost 3.32% over the last year.

17. Sensata Technologies Holding NV (NYSE:ST): Develops, manufactures, and sells sensors and controls primarily in the Americas, the Asia Pacific, and Europe. Market cap of $4.58B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 3.2M, which is 4.28% of the company's 74.79M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 5.44% (equivalent to 5.46 days of average volume). The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 17.96%.

18. Whirlpool Corp. (NYSE:WHR): Engages in the manufacture and marketing of home appliances worldwide. Market cap of $3.78B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 3.0M, which is 3.95% of the company's 75.98M share float. The stock has lost 42% over the last year.

19. SodaStream International Ltd. (NASDAQ:SODA): Engages in the development, manufacture, and marketing of home beverage carbonation systems and related products. Market cap of $778.37M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 568.8K, which is 3.81% of the company's 14.92M share float. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 18.8% over the last week.

20. The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAIN): Manufactures, markets, distributes, and sells natural and organic food, and personal care products in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $1.54B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 1.2M, which is 3.32% of the company's 36.13M share float. It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 6.96% over the last week.

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

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Source: 20 Smart Money Picks From The Consumer Goods Sector