I lived through Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It was only the third Category 5 storm to make landfall in the United States, and it was a doozy. I remember waiting for the deafening gusts to subside before venturing out to see the savage destruction that the killer storm had caused. When it comes to windstorms, Category 5 is as intense as they get. When it comes to investing, growth stocks would be the market's equivalent.

Growth stocks are powerful, which can sometimes be a good thing. Find the right stock on the cusp of blowing apart the landscape, and you can go from being a modest investor to a rich one in the blink of a hurricane's eye. Think Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) just as it was laying down the routed groundwork for the Internet revolution. Picture IGT (NYSE:IGT) just as the company was transforming the slot machine industry, or Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) as it was making online advertising accessible to the masses with its brilliant AdWords and AdSense paid search programs.

By the same token, growth stocks are volatile. I saw it when I stepped outside of my home in 1992. You can see it, too, in a portfolio ravaged by the wrong growth stocks. Planet Hollywood? 3DO? They both blew my portfolio to pieces way back when.

Bracing for the big one
Snapping up the right growth stocks is the aim of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service. Every month, David Gardner leads a team of analysts in unearthing a couple of ultimate growth stock ideas. When he's right, Category 5 investing can be a thing of beauty. Four of the 24 recommendations from last year have gone on to more than double. Three have more than tripled in value! When he's wrong, the damage can be brutal. Seven of this year's picks are sporting double-digit losses.

The key to aggressive growth stock investing is to let your winners run. If you land that 10-bagger, it means that nine other similar investments can go to zero and you'll still have broken even.

Taking chances has led the service to single out some pretty eclectic -- if not outright eccentric -- companies. Our original recommendation of Archipelago, subsequently acquired by NYSE Group (NYSE:NYX), has gone on to more than quadruple since last year, as the combined company bridges the gap between old-school stock exchanges and the electronic platforms of tomorrow. The newsletter also landed a winner in biotech upstart Exelixis (NASDAQ:EXEL). The stock has risen 24% higher since being singled out a year ago. This morning the company treated investors to news that it was initiating XL880 phase 2 clinical trials for the treatment of gastric cancer.

Buying into new technology is risky. That's OK. Disruptive technology may not disrupt overnight, but when it does, the upticks can come in a hurry.

I am fortunate enough to have been with The Motley Fool in the mid-1990s, when David was recommending the purchase of companies like America Online and PayPal. They seemed like radical investments at the time. AOL was battling it out in the cutthroat realm of dialup online services. PayPal was battling established financial services titans in the field of online micropayments. AOL and PayPal took off, and so did David's real-money Rule Breaker portfolio.

Andrew, 14 years later
The storms keep coming. I still live in Miami, so I've had my share of windstorms come by in recent years; last year, Katrina and Wilma came for a visit.

Storms continue, but so do investing ideas. Over the summer, I looked at investing styles and labeled them as hurricane categories.

Wrapping things up with the most powerful -- and sometimes dangerous -- basket of stocks makes sense. I'm part of the Rule Breakers team of analysts. I buy stocks in all shapes and flavors, though I'm always smitten by a good young growth stock with a great story to tell.

Oh, they do tell stories. It was easy to snuggle up to NetEase.com (NASDAQ:NTES) as the market darling of the wireless messaging space began to pave a new path in Internet fantasy games. Just 10% of the company's native China is currently online, yet the company has hundreds of thousands of players paying to be a part of NetEase's virtual worlds at any given moment. This is one story that's only going to get better in time.

I don't mind the exotic. I don't fear Category 5 investing. I've seen David excel at it for nearly as long as I've been telling stories of how I made it through Hurricane Andrew.

Are you a Category 5 investor? Want to learn more to see if you are one? Give Rule Breakers a spin with a free 30-day pass to see if growth investing is right for you.

This article was originally published on July 21, 2006. It has been updated.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz believes in taking chances to earn superior returns. He does not own shares of any company mentioned. NetEase is a Rule Breakers pick. The Fool has adisclosure policy.