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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Financial stocks had a strong year in 2014, consistent with the broader market.

The Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLF) - Get Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund Report , an exchange-traded fund with its largest holdings in Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) - Get Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Class A Report  and big banks including Bank of America (BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. Report , earned 13.49% excluding dividends,compared to 11.81% for the S&P 500 and 13.93% for the Nasdaq.

Looking ahead to 2015, FBR Capital Markets analysts see "meaningful expectations that short-term rates could head higher, debt service could benefit from lower oil prices and a better economy, loan growth improving significantly in the past several quarters, and a shifting regulatory landscape," according to a report published earlier this week.

Here are their top stock picks for the year.

1. Bank of America 

FBR analysts upgraded Bank of America to outperform following the release of the bank's third-quarter earnings results. They estimate tangible book value at $15.52 at the end of 2015, which, they write, "should provide good downside support to the share price." They also expect a big decline in litigation expenses this year.

2. BofI Holdings (BOFI)

FBR analysts refer to BofI as "one of our favorite banks, given its differentiated banking model, which drives superior efficiency, growth and profitability without significant credit risk." It has no branches, allowing it post an impressive efficiency ratio (expenses dividend by revenues) of 35%. By contrast, the largest U.S. banks are all above 50% as of their latest filing, and Bank of America is at 93%

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3. Century Communities (CCS) - Get Century Communities, Inc. Report

FBR calls Century "our top idea for 2015 given the company's favorable valuation and leverage to improving volumes." The builder of upscale homes in metropolitan areas in Texas, Nevada and Colorado saw its shares fall nearly 19% in 2014, but FBR analysts argue that has only made it cheaper to buy what "remains one of the fastest-growing builders in the space."

4. HomeStreet (HMST) - Get HomeStreet, Inc. Report

HomeStreet is moving "to diversify its revenue stream from mortgage banking heavy to a more balanced commercial/consumer banking and mortgage banking split much faster than expected," FBR analysts write. They believe this shift will create more stable revenue and so command a higher multiple from investors.

5. Hanmi Financial Corporation (HAFC) - Get Hanmi Financial Corporation Report

FBR analysts describe Hanmi as "the most attractive bank under our coverage." They expect earnings per share to grow 28% in 2015 driven by the acquisition of Central Bancorp, a deal that closed Aug. 31. The deal will give Hanmi, a Los Angeles-based bank that serves a mainly Korean-American clientele, a footprint in Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Virginia.

6. Two Harbors Investment Corp. (TWO) - Get Two Harbors Investment Corp. Report

FBR analysts believe interest rates will stay low for longer than many expect in 2015, which should drive demand for Two Harbors' dividend yield of more than 10%. The mortgage real estate investment trust has historically traded at a 5%-10% premium to peers, but has lately gotten cheaper. They argue the company will "break out of the 'mortgage REIT box' and [expand] into a diversified investment platform.

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