Growth stocks are the beauties of the stock world, plain and simple. They're exciting, they have good stories, and they can make you a lot of money.

But for all their beauty, growth stocks are also the prima donnas of the market. They can be erratic, they don't always live up to their billing, and they tend to attract a shareholder base that's ready and willing to run at the first signs of slowdown. For those reasons, caution is certainly in order when you enter the world of growth investing.

Fortunately, The Motley Fool's CAPS service brings us the collective intelligence of more than 135,000 investors, and is a great resource for separating the Jessica Albas from the Jabba the Hutts. Each of the stocks competing for this week's top spot has a market cap of at least $100 million and grew its net profit per share by an average of 20% or more per year over the past three years. (You can run the screen for yourself.) So let's go ahead and meet our contestants.

Intuitive Surgical
John Connor might be concerned that robots are taking over surgical rooms, but if you're a doctor, patient, or Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) shareholder, then you're likely cheering the development. Intuitive sells the da Vinci Surgical System, which allows surgeons to perform more procedures in a minimally invasive fashion, which can help reduce patients' pain and recovery time.

But robots don't come cheap, and the recession has made it tougher for Intuitive's customers lately. Growth over the past three years has been pretty breathtaking, though -- the company's revenue has jumped 230% over that period.

Express Scripts
To say that health-care and prescription drug costs are a challenge for the U.S. economy is like saying that Slash can kind of play the guitar. In fact, the cost of health care has become a massive issue for both consumers and businesses in the U.S.

Pharmacy benefit managers like Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX) are helping those businesses slash their health-care spending while making sure that they're still delivering quality treatment. Express Scripts may have lost out to CVS (NYSE:CVS) in its bid to acquire Caremark, but it has nonetheless delivered some pretty impressive growth, boosting its earnings per share nearly 100% between 2006 and the last 12 months.

Research In Motion
Though a lot of the coverage of Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) these days focuses on the threat it faces from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and its iPhone, I think it would be silly to underestimate RIMM.

With a strong brand and a tight hold on the business market, RIMM is no Rudy story, even if it does sell small products that pack a mighty punch. One look at the quintupling of net income that RIMM has posted over the past four years and it's easy to see why this smartphone maker is hardly an underdog.

Advanced Battery Technologies
Miners lamps may not have as much sex appeal as beer commercials, but they're one of the major contributors to the much more interesting rechargeable battery business at Advanced Battery Technologies (NASDAQ:ABAT).

In the first quarter, 21% of Advanced Battery's total sales came from miners lamps, a decline from the 24% of sales that the lamps accounted for in all of 2008. This is good news for the company, as it points to the fact that more sales are coming from other areas, such as batteries going into electric scooters and bikes, power tools, and electric sanitation vehicles.

The company's bottom line actually shrunk year over year in the first quarter, but overall it has managed roughly 20% growth per year ever since its operations turned profitable.

ABB
Considering that He-Man was always claiming that he had "the power," I wonder if anyone ever put him in touch with ABB (NYSE:ABB). ABB is one of the leaders in the power infrastructure market, and sells all sorts of products used by utilities and commercial customers for the transmission and distribution of power. Whether He-Man was trying to collect, distribute, or transform voltage on that power, ABB probably would have been able to hook him up.

ABB has found opportunities aplenty around the world as emerging markets beef up their power systems and developed markets look to replace aging systems and make current systems more efficient.

The envelope please ...
The voting is in and the CAPS community members have shared their opinions. In one fell swoop we're going to kick Advanced Battery and Research In Motion off the island. Both stocks have managed to wrangle only a sheepish two stars out of five on CAPS.

CAPS members' concerns about Advanced Battery vary from short-term stock fluctuation worries to fears that its battery technology won't cut the mustard. Meanwhile, competition was clearly the main concern for CAPS members giving RIMM the thumbs-down.

Express Scripts won't make it any further in this competition, either. While there are quite a number of bullish CAPS members, valuation was a major concern for others, and helped keep the stock grounded with a three-star rating.

With a shiny four-star rating, Intuitive Surgical came within striking distance of taking the top prize. Bullish CAPS members have raved about the prospects for the da Vinci system and salivated over the growth that could be in the company's future. Keeping the stock from getting a perfect five stars have been complaints about its valuation and concerns that the recession will continue to crimp hospital budgets.

Proudly wearing the top growth stock crown this week is ABB, which has scored a perfect five-star rating on CAPS. To get a better look at why CAPS members think this stock is about as good as it gets, let's take a look at what CAPS All-Star TMFDeej had to say last summer:

ABB is cheap right now because everyone is afraid that the global economy is going to implode and that no one will ever build anything again. While growth is clearly slowing in many western markets, emerging markets like China and India are still experiencing tremendous growth and more than half of ABB's revenue comes from emerging markets.

Furthermore, ABB is heavily involved in the wind power, the current trendy alternative energy play. ABB provides 30% of the equipment that is needed to build a new land-based wind farms and 40% of the gear for offshore farms.

I don't see how ABB won't outperform the major indices for the next several years. I'm adding shares of ABB to my CAPS portfolio today.

Now go vote!
Do you think that ABB has what it takes to be America's next top growth stock? Head over to CAPS and let the rest of the community know what you think.

Related Foolishness:

Intuitive Surgical is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. ABB is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. eBay is a recommendation of Motley Fool Stock Advisor and Motley Fool Inside Value. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. You can check out the stocks he's keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can connect with him on Twitter @KoppTheFool. The Fool's disclosure policy would surely win America's Next Top Disclosure Policy, but for some reason there's no such contest.