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 a community of more than 140,000 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 15% or more per year over the past three years. (You can run the screen for yourself to get full, updated results.) So let's go ahead and meet our contestants.

Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) may not be one of the first names that leaps from your lips when talking about growth companies. But don't be fooled by P&G's $167 billion market cap; it has produced, and continues to target, significant growth.

Over the past 10 years, P&G's net income has more than tripled, to $13.4 billion as of its most recent fiscal year. This surge has been fueled by growth from major customers like Wal-Mart, as well as an intense focus on capturing new business from emerging markets.

It's that latter area that the company hopes will be a growth driver in years ahead. Specifically, the company is hoping to add as many as 500 million new customers in India over the next five years and increase per-capita spending on P&G products significantly in both India and China.

Buffalo Wild Wings
Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD) is a dazzling example of being very clear about what investors should expect. The company's management team isn't shy about letting investors know that they're looking for 20% earnings growth by increasing the number of restaurants by 13% to 15% in 2010.

B-Wild's management team has been pretty good at delivering on its promises. Between 2005 and 2008 the company doubled sales and more than doubled earnings per share, putting annualized growth at 26% and 39%, respectively.

Can they keep delivering? The restaurant industry is more competitive than investment bankers at a speed-dating event, and B-Wild's third-quarter report seemed to disappoint some investors. However, looking at the bigger picture, the company appears to have found a way to tap the sports bar segment and pump out some pretty tasty growth.

We live in a world fixated on an uncertain economic picture and major inflation concerns. While this is worrisome for companies ranging from Citigroup (NYSE:C) to Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), it's stuck a red-hot poker on gold's flank. Though gold prices have been volatile over the past couple of years, the surge that started in late 2008 now has gold selling at more than $1,000 per ounce.

For Goldcorp (NYSE:GG), one of the largest producers of gold in the world, this is major cause for celebration. But the rising price of gold isn't the only reason to expect growth out of Goldcorp. The company's Red Lake mine -- one of the world's premier gold mines -- is expected to keep delivering in high fashion. Meanwhile, the company has high hopes for its Penasquito mine in Mexico, one of the largest new mines in the world, which is estimated to have 17.4 million ounces of gold.

If Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) isn't one of the best turnaround stories out there, then I don't know what is. Not all that long ago the company was a has-been in the personal-computer market, rapidly losing out to a cadre of fast-growing competitors like Dell and sporting dismal financials to match.

Today, the company is one of the "it" tech companies thanks to a revamp of its computer segment and the release of the svelte iPod and iPhone. You don't need to look much further than the results from the company's September-ended quarter. In addition to a big contribution from iPhone sales, MacBook numbers (as fellow Fool Tim Beyers pointed out) looked spectacular.

With 25% revenue growth and 46% net income growth during the quarter, the appropriate question may be "Can anyone stop Apple?"

If global growth is on your mind, then Vale (NYSE:VALE) better be on your radar. As the world's second-largest miner and largest producer of iron ore, Vale is well-positioned to be a major beneficiary of construction all over the world.

Recent economic turmoil has meant that Vale has put a lot of its focus on cutting costs, but any investor worth his weight in ticker tape knows that the real picture is the big picture. And the big picture looks good for Vale. Of course there's the well-known growth king in China, but there are plenty of other economies that will likely be sucking up resources in the coming years; Vale's home base of Brazil not least among them.

Results have been underwhelming on the growth front lately, but the 100% profit burst that Vale produced in the three years ending in 2008 shows that this mining giant knows how to turn on the afterburners.

The envelope please ...
The voting is in and CAPS community members have shared their opinions. Despite the recent strength in gold and Goldcorp's mining opportunities, it is the first stock voted off the island as many CAPS members doubt that gold can continue its mad rush.

With three-star ratings, Apple and Buffalo Wild Wings follow closely on Goldcorp's tail. Valuation seems to be the watchword for Apple, while numerous CAPS members have been underwhelmed by their experiences at Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants.

Coming darn close to the top spot for the week was Vale, which carries a spiffy four-star rating from the CAPS community. Most of the bulls seem to focus on global infrastructure build-out and potential inflation as drivers of Vale's bottom line. In the end, though, it is Procter & Gamble, another massive company relying on global growth for bottom-line expansion, that snags the growth stock crown.

CAPS member perremon2010 recently became one of the 6,000-plus P&G bulls on CAPS and highlighted the potential for the company to thrive on economic recovery:

A solid performer with a decent dividend and much needed core products. Has at least some safety in an economic contraction as it proved recently. Now leaner and poised to reap the rewards of a recovering economy as some customers return to prouducts they've like for years. Dollar Store goods and discount goods just aren't as comforting as the brands we kow and trust. We'll get back to that when we're able to loosen [the] money belt just a notch or two.

Now go vote!
Do you think that P&G 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:

Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Dell, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart Stores are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Procter & Gamble is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Buffalo Wild Wings is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. The Fool owns shares of Procter & Gamble and Buffalo Wild Wings. 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.