Investors are always hunting for the next big stock -- the dream stock whose price increases several times over when the market finally discovers it. It's easy to look back and see what the 10 best stocks of the past decade were. But for my part, I'm more interested in the tools that can not only help me find new stock ideas, but also have the resources necessary to evaluate tomorrow's greatest companies.

There is a tool that offers a variety of resources to help with finding tomorrow's leaders: Motley Fool CAPS.

We've enlisted CAPS to screen for top small-cap stocks and get the story behind them. CAPS' nifty screener will help us find stocks with:

  • A market cap between $100 million and $1 billion.
  • A three year revenue growth rate of at least 20%.
  • A price-to-earnings ratio of less than 25.

Then we'll tap the collective intelligence of our 115,000-plus CAPS members to see whether these companies present real opportunities -- or whether the numbers fail to tell the true story.

Opinions with the numbers
Here's a sampling from the list of stocks our screen pulled up today.

Company

Revenue Growth Rate, Past 3 Years

Market Cap (in millions)

P/E (TTM)

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Bolt Technology (NASDAQ:BOLT)

48.5%

$171

12.3

*****

Dawson Geophysical (NASDAQ:DWSN)

38.9%

$496

14.3

*****

Ceragon Networks (NASDAQ:CRNT)

37.5%

$323

19.9

*****

inVentiv Health (NASDAQ:VTIV)

30.9%

$729

16.2

*****

Data and star rankings from CAPS. All data as of Aug. 22. TTM: trailing 12 months.

Bolt Technology
Seismic equipment developer Bolt Technology's impressive fundamentals -- strong cash flow, high earnings growth, and zero debt -- have made it a big star among CAPS members. The company acquired Real Time Systems last year, and the acquisition has already contributed more than 15% to its earnings in the first nine months of its fiscal year. Management expects fiscal 2008 to be another record earnings year for the company, and a solid contingent of CAPS members expect market-beating growth from Bolt Technology as well -- more than 98% of the 1,046 rating the company are bullish.

Dawson Geophysical
Another small-cap seismic play, Dawson Geophysical, dominates the U.S. onshore seismic acquisition market. It reported a 23% increase in revenue in its most recent quarter, helped by larger crews and increased productivity on existing crews. Shale plays are where it’s at these days, and Dawson’s outlook is very positive, with top customers like Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) increasing capital spending in seismic. With the oil and gas exploration market soaring, seismic companies are following the favorable growth trend and stepping up services. Out of the 2,178 CAPS members rating Dawson Geophysical, more than 97% expect the firm to outperform the market.

Ceragon Networks
A provider of high-capacity wireless backhaul solutions, Ceragon Networks continues to see strong demand from its Asia-Pacific region fueling its top-line growth. In the second quarter, 57% of revenue came from that region, and total revenue grew 48% to reach an all-time high of $55.2 million. Company management runs a tight ship, achieving growth with a lean operating structure while it takes advantage of new deployments of broadband wireless networks in emerging markets like India, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. Of the 1,546 CAPS members rating Ceragon Networks, 1,516 are bullish on its prospects to beat the S&P going forward.

inVentiv Health
A 70% increase in earnings for the second quarter couldn't overcome news of slowing growth at inVentiv Health, so investors have knocked the stock lower. With shares down 30% year-to-date, though, many see a great opportunity to capitalize on fear and get a great health-care services provider for cheap. InVentiv provides just about any application its pharmaceutical customers need in bringing a drug to market, with a top client list including Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), and many others. Further international expansion into Latin America also has investors expecting more good things to come, and the sentiment on CAPS is overwhelmingly bullish, with more than 98% of the 1,069 members rating inVentiv expecting it to outperform the market.

Let 115,000 members be the judge
The collective wisdom of a huge pool of investors can help give context to a page of numbers developed through a stock screen. But even with an entire community of qualified opinions acting as the judge, individual investors are still the jury and should perform their own due diligence.

Want to run your favorite parameters through the CAPS screener? It's totally free, including the extensive investor knowledge base of ratings, commentary, and blogs. You can even give your own opinion -- both good and bad -- on any company you wish in Motley Fool CAPS.

Two dreamy small-cap stock picks show up in our Motley Fool Hidden Gems service each month. Check out all the stocks that have lead analysts Tom Gardner and Bill Mann beating the market by 22 points with a free 30-day trial of the service.

Fool contributor Dave Mock dreams of stocks and sugarplum fairies, but not together. He owns shares of Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer and is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. inVentiv Health, Dawson Geophysical, and Ceragon Networks are Hidden Gems picks. Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson are Income Investor selections. Pfizer and Chesapeake Energy are Inside Value recommendations. The Fool's disclosure policy screens the good, the bad, and the ugly.