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. Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick (NASDAQ:AMZN) may be off from its highs, but the growth that it's seen over the past few years has helped it post a 70% gain, while most of the rest of the market tanked.

But for all their beauty, growth stocks are also Wall Street's prima donnas. 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 125,000 investors. It's 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 each grew its net profit per share by an average of 20% or more per year over the past three years. (If you like, run the screen for yourself.) Let's meet this week's contestants.

Chipotle Mexican Grill
Since being spun off from McDonald's, this purveyor of fresh Mex has been on a tear. Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) has been growing revenue at double-digit rates, while at the same time boosting margins considerably. Until late 2007, its stock had reflected those gains, becoming a screaming multibagger from its original IPO price. Recent market declines have shaved off a good bit of those gains, bringing its valuation down from the heady levels of 2007.

Along with its competitors, Chevron's (NYSE:CVX) growth over the past few years was driven primarily by the rapidly rising price of oil. Now that oil has fallen roughly from its peak levels, is Chevron still a growth company? It will certainly take a hit from lower oil prices, but we're unlikely to see oil become obsolete any time soon, and Chevron is out there actively looking for new oil fields. Meanwhile, there are plenty of industry insiders who think that oil will rebound substantially from these levels.

Don't let the word "bank" in the name throw you off, Bankrate (NASDAQ:RATE) isn't looking at billion-dollar writedowns or a balance sheet full of CDOs. Though the world of finance has been hurting, Bankrate has managed to more than double its operating income over the past three years, by attracting more Web users to its collection of financial data and articles.

MGM Mirage
Gaming giant MGM (NYSE:MGM) has seen huge profit growth in the past few years, helped in a big way by the opening of its MGM Grand Hotel in Macau. Though the weak economy will provide a big drag for the company, it has high hopes for the Macau market, not to mention the much-anticipated opening of its massive City Center project in Las Vegas.

Pharmacy benefit managers like Medco Health Solutions (NYSE:MHS) face an unforgiving marketplace. CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS) recently became a major competitor after the merger of its two main components. Wal-Mart Stores has also entered the pharmacy business in a big way. And government could make big changes in the industry over the next few years. Despite all this, Medco has managed to nearly double its earnings per share since 2005, and it will likely see less of an impact from current economic conditions. An aging U.S. population also plays into Medco's hands by increasing the overall demand for medications.

The envelope, please ...
CAPS community members have shared their opinions, and the votes are in. Right off the bat, CAPS members kicked Bankrate and MGM out of the running by saddling them with two-star ratings. CAPS members generally consider Bankrate's stock too expensive, while some members have also raised questions about the sustainability of its business model. MGM, meanwhile, was panned because of an expected loss of business in 2009, as consumers tighten their purse strings. While Chipotle carries a slightly better three-star rating, CAPS members see the same consumer cutbacks hitting its bottom line, dragging the stock down.

So who goes down in a final showdown between Chevron and Medco Health Solutions? Though Chevron put up a good fight, its four-star rating just wasn't enough to beat out Medco's perfect five stars. There are a lot of strong arguments in favor of Medco, but CAPS All-Star and self-described practicing doctor ikkyu2 recently chimed in with this:

In terms of market share, responsiveness to patients and physicians, and back end, I am beginning to feel strongly that Medco is best of breed. The major risk, I think, is regulatory risk - the current administration may decide to alter the face of American medicine, record-keeping, and/or prescription drug benefits in a way that doesn't benefit [Medco Health Solutions]. I am not the decider, but I think I tend to doubt this will come to pass. If anything, I suspect Medco's model will be a basis for the shape of drug dispensing to come, and so they'll probably be able to fit into whatever the new administration has in mind.

Now go vote!
Do you think that Medco Health 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.

Further CAPS Foolishness:

Wal-Mart Stores is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Bankrate and Chipotle Mexican Grill are Motley Fool Rule Breakers picks. Medco Health Solutions and are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool owns shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill.

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.