Looking to juice your returns by investing in the market's raciest prospects? You might be in luck: A quick screen finds hundreds of names that are expected to grow earnings at a rate of 20% or more annually over the next five years. That prospective winners list includes Genentech (NYSE:DNA) and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), as well as smaller fish like Red Hat (NYSE:RHT).

Tighten the criteria and look for those with 30% growth forecasts, and you're still left with plenty of contenders --- Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Transocean (NYSE:RIG) among them.

Investors in companies that sport race-car profiles should certainly be prepared for bumps in the road: These stocks, after all, are loaded with expectations. Still, if you've got a stomach for volatility and a long-term orientation, getting a piece of their action now could make you look like a genius a few years down the line.

Or maybe not
Thing is, analysts -- believe it or not -- sometimes get it wrong, particularly when they're trying to forecast "out year" earnings growth. And highfliers like the aforementioned have the farthest to fall when the market heads south. The upshot? For my money, the best way to dial up your exposure to these go-getters is in the context of a well-diversified portfolio, one that sports a slug of milder picks to offset your wilder fare.

You can do that in the context of a portfolio of just individual stocks, of course, but let's be honest: Before placing your last buy order, how much time did you spend contemplating the way that prospective purchase would affect the overall asset allocation of your portfolio?

Thought so. Good thing, then, that there's a no-muss, no-fuss way to get your portfolio aligned with your timeline and tolerance for risk before heading off to the land of individual stocks: world-class mutual funds.

Hit the target
Funds typically target certain areas of the market. So if you want to anchor your portfolio in, say, large-cap value stocks like Chevron (NYSE:CVX) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) -- long-haul overachievers with below-industry price-to-earnings ratios -- and then step down the market-cap ladder and in the direction of growthier fare, funds make doing so a breeze. What's more, thanks to their built-in diversification, funds provide a layer of portfolio insulation -- even if you target "bleeding edge" stocks or those the pros call "fallen angels."

Indeed, among other tacks, the latest recommendation we've made at the Fool's Champion Funds investing service searches for erstwhile highfliers that have fallen from their perch, providing a choice opportunity to buy growth on the cheap. Right now, for example, technology stocks -- among the market's worst performers since the meltdown of early 2000 -- soak up roughly a third of this pick's roughly $1 billion asset base.

That's a sizable bet on a "dangerous" area of the market, of course, but over the long haul, the management team here has gotten the job done for shareholders: Between December 1997 and the close of January 2006, the fund cranked out a total return of nearly 255% while the S&P 500 managed a gain of roughly 74%.

If you'd like to get the inside scoop on this recommendation and all our others -- a group that is besting the market by some 13 percentage points -- click here and snag a completely free Champion Funds guest pass. Your pass provides 30 days of access to our complete list of recommended funds, model portfolios, archives, and the current newsletter issue.

Take Champion Funds for a test drive now and you'll also have access to our latest special reports: The Challenge: ETFs vs. Mutual Funds and Add Kick to Your 401(k)! Just click here to snag the reports, along with your free 30-day guest pass.

Shannon Zimmerman runs point on the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service and co-advises Motley Fool Green Light with his pal Dayana Yochim. At the time of publication, he didn't own any of the securities mentioned above. eBay is a Stock Advisor recommendation. Bank of America is an Income Investor choice. You can check out the Fool's strict disclosure policy by clicking right here.