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. Southwestern Energy may be off from its highs lately, but over the past five years, the huge profit growth that this oil and gas exploration company has seen has led to more than 950% gains for its investors.

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 a community of more than 115,000 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 by at least 20% over the past year. So let's go ahead and meet our contestants.

Suntech Power
Though Chinese solar stocks may seem old hat to some now, Motley Fool Rule Breaker pick Suntech Power (NYSE:STP) was one of the first to come to the U.S. market back in 2005. The company focuses on traditional photovoltaic cells as well as building-integrated PVs. Thanks to the concerns over continued availability of fossil fuels and global warming, Suntech has had some pretty sunny performance -- over the past year, revenue is up nearly 80% and earnings per share are up more than 60%.

What to do with all that data ... That's where EMC (NYSE:EMC) comes in. EMC sells equipment that helps store, organize, and protect the data that's so critical to businesses today. Over the past year, the lackluster performance of EMC spinoff VMware (NYSE:VMW) has hit EMC's stock, but don't let that cause you to overlook EMC. This company still boasts impressive growth and delivered earnings-per-share growth of more than 25% for the past 12 months.

What can I say about Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) that you don't already know? The company is not just a tech giant, with a market value over $200 billion, it's simply a giant. Though Microsoft may have Google nipping at its heels, it's still Mr. Softee's game to lose. Oh, and is Microsoft still a growth company? You bet! Over the past four years, its average annual earnings-per-share growth rate has exceeded 25%.

American Tower
Service providers like Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) tend to get the most attention in the wireless market, but there are under-the-radar companies out there like American Tower that are enabling the providers' services. At the end of 2007 American Tower owned nearly 23,000 communications sites, which it leases out on a long-term basis to service providers including Verizon and Sprint. The company's EBITDA over the past 12 months is more than double what it was in 2004.

WebMD Health
WebMD's (NASDAQ:WBMD) stock may not have been particularly healthy over the past year, but its revenue growth over the past few years has been robust and profits have been looking a bit more promising. Looking ahead, the company hopes that its collection of websites, including the flagship, can drive continued growth and improvement in profitability.

The envelope please ...
While a number of CAPS members like WebMD's business, many more are concerned about the stock's valuation and it has ended up with a rock-bottom one-star rating. American Tower may have a very different business, but CAPS members' opinion on valuation is similar to WebMD -- overvalued -- and it is stuck with a two-star rating. And good old Microsoft may have nearly 10,000 CAPS members supporting it, but there are enough that disagree to keep the stock in neutral with a three-star rating.

Suntech Power recently took a tumble as a result of a research report from Goldman Sachs, and many CAPS members (including me!) took this as an opportunity to give the stock a thumbs-up. But Suntech's four-star rating, while positive, keeps it just out of the top spot in this week's growth stock beauty contest.

Who does that leave us with? That's right, EMC. EMC has more than 2,700 fans on CAPS, versus just 126 who think it will underperform the market. One recent EMC fan, CAPS member Beacon10, kept it nice and simple, saying: "EMC has always been a good company. Now is a good time to buy in. If you can get in under $10 even better."

Now go vote!
Do you think EMC 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.

More CAPS Foolishness:

Sprint Nextel and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. VMware, Suntech Power, and Google are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. 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. The Fool's disclosure policy would surely win America's Next Top Disclosure Policy, but for some reason there's no such contest.