The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not represent the views of TheStreet or its management.



) -- Financial stocks have been showing signs of life after a rather disappointing 2010. Take

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report


Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Wells Fargo & Company Report

, both up +10% since the first of the year. That's almost double the broader market. This has caused many investors to view financials as some of the

best stocks for 2011.

But the big banks aren't the only stocks on the rise in 2011. A number of financial

penny stocks

and cheap banks trading for just a few dollars a share are heating up. These bargain financials have seen some very impressive gains lately. And if this trend continues, these picks could soar in the months ahead as financials hit their stride.

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Here are six top financial penny stocks for you to consider buying this week:

Village Bank & Trust Financial Corp. (VBFC)

Bank holding company

Village Bank & Trust Financial Corp.

(VBFC) - Get Village Bank and Trust Financial Corp. Report

leads off the list of top financial penny stocks to buy. Over the past 12 months, this penny stock is up +32%, compared to gains of +30% and +21% for the NASDAQ and Dow Jones. This stock lost some ground towards the end of 2010, but in the three months has gained an impressive +52%. It should also be noted that in its last income statement, VBFC reported a remarkable quarterly revenue growth of +769%, year-over-year.

Manhattan Bridge Capital Inc. (LOAN)

Manhattan Bridge Capital Inc.

TheStreet Recommends

(LOAN) - Get Manhattan Bridge Capital, Inc. Report

is known for its short term secured non-banking commercial loans that it provides to small businesses. Over the last 52 weeks, this financial stock is up +32%, compared to smaller gains by the broader markets. Likewise, in the last month, LOAD has posted gains of +12%. While the number is as shocking at VBFC's, LOAN's quarterly revenue growth was a solid +6%, year-over-year, in its last income statement.

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Sprott Resource Lending Corp. (SILU)

Next on the list is

Sprott Resource Lending Corp.


, which focuses on bridge and mezzanine lending to mining companies, exploration and development companies, and oil and gas companies internationally. SILU is currently looking strong after posting a gain of +5% since the start of 2011. Over the past year, the stock has climbed +61%, compared to smaller gains by the broader markets. Importantly, SILU is trading near the high end of its 52-week range of $1.10 to $1.98.

Atlantic American Corp. (AAME)

Atlantic American Corp.

(AAME) - Get Atlantic American Corporation Report

is a holding company whose subsidiaries deal with the well-defined specialty markets within a variety of insurance industries. In the last year, this penny stock has jumped +60%, and more recently, it is up +22% in the last three months. This financial company also posted a quarterly revenue growth of +6%, year-over-year, recently. Buy AAME stock as it is trading just pennies away from its 52-week high of $2.25.

Anchor Bancorp Wisconsin Inc. (ABCW)

Holding company

Anchor Bancorp Wisconsin Inc.


deals with the savings and loan industry. Like the rest of the companies on this list, ABCW has shined as of late, and has skyrocketed +198% in the last three months. This includes a steady gain of +18% in the last 30 days. With a 52-week range of 40 cents to $1.90, you should strongly consider buying this penny stock.

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Central Federal Corp. (CFBK)

Rounding out the list of top financial penny stocks to buy is holding company

Central Federal Corp.

(CFBK) - Get Central Federal Corporation Report

whose subsidiary is a federally chartered savings association. In the last month alone, this stock has risen an incredible +80%. This penny stock was trading at just 45 cents in December, but has since reached a 52-week high of $2.26. While CFBK has pulled back slightly from its peak, it has still given its shareholders tremendous gains in the last few months. Buy this stock before you miss the next jump.

One of Wall Street's renowned growth investors, Louis Navellier is the editor of four investing newsletters: Emerging Growth (formerly known as MPT Review), Blue Chip Growth, Quantum Growth and Global Growth. His longest-running publication, Emerging Growth, has a track record of beating the market nearly 3 to 1. Navellier is the author of a BusinessWeek bestseller, "The Little Book That Makes You Rich," and the chairman and founder of Navellier & Associates, Inc.