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 130,000 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 20% or more per year over the past three years. (Run the screen for yourself if you like, to see full, updated results.) So let's go ahead and meet our contestants.

Transocean
Considering that Transocean (NYSE:RIG) is one of the largest energy services companies -- with oil majors such as Chevron, ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), and BP among its customers -- it's easy to see why its stock could be an interesting investment. But will it grow?

Some analysts think so. Though growth is expected to be under wraps for the next couple of years, the average annual long-term growth estimate is nearly 12%. That probably shouldn't be too surprising given the ever-increasing need to tap Neptune's kingdom for new sources of oil.

Apple
If you're a follower of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), you probably know the growth story by heart. If you're not, let me go ahead and clue you in.

The rebirth of Apple started with the iPod, but it's the iPhone that has captured everyone's attention now. Though Apple has strong competition from the likes of Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) and Nokia, the iPhone has been a huge hit. However, the big long-term promise lies in the rediscovered cachet of the Apple brand and the potential for the company to capture a bigger piece of the massive PC and laptop market.

Hewlett-Packard
"Lumbering giant" would seem to be a better descriptor for Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) than "growth company." With a valuation near $90 billion, HP is indisputably huge, but it also managed to more than triple its bottom line between its fiscal year-end in 2003 and 2008.

A lot of its growth has come from acquisitions -- including the massive EDS takeover -- and more M&A will likely goose growth in the coming years. At the same time, though, the company's focus on building the software and services side of its business, as well as expansion opportunities abroad, could lead to reasonable organic growth as well.

Buffalo Wild Wings
During college football season I eat more Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD) hot wings than I care to think about. And based on the scorching-hot earnings growth the company has seen over the past five years, I'm willing to wager that I'm not the only one gorging on BWW's tasty wings.

Buffalo Wild Wings' management continues to target impressive double-digit earnings growth rates and, based on analysts' estimates, Wall Street seems to think the company can pull it off.

U.S. Steel
The results for cyclical companies such as U.S. Steel (NYSE:X) come in fits and spurts, and the past three years have been quite a spurt. Over that time frame, earnings per share jumped more than 150%, clocking in at nearly $18 per share in 2008. With a global recession in full effect, the near term doesn't look nearly so bright. As we exit recession, though, many feel that the developing world's hunger for infrastructure could propel the steel industry.

The envelope please ...
The voting is in and CAPS community members have shared their opinions. In one fell swoop we're going to escort Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and Buffalo Wild Wings off the island. For the most part, CAPS members don't seem to dislike these companies, but the stocks could muster only mediocre three-star ratings. The valuations on the stocks -- particularly Apple and Buffalo Wild Wings -- seem to have turned many members off.

When U.S. Steel's stock was peaking last year, CAPS members weren't all that keen on it, sticking it with a ho-hum three-star rating. As the stock has fallen though, opinions have changed and the rating has ticked up to four stars, suggesting that investors think a rebound is in the cards.

But U.S. Steel's four stars couldn't quite edge the perfect five-star rating for Transocean, which, along with a truckload of other energy-related companies, has caught the favor of the CAPS community in a big way.

For a take on why it's such a great stock, let's review what CAPS All-Star PsychoDr had to say in March:

Monster stock, monster company. Deep sea rigs are essential for the oil industry. While I do not see 150 oil in the near future, I don't see 30 for much longer either. I want to be with the big boys when this economy turns around. Oil may not be depended upon as much over the next few decades, but it will be a long time before it is phased out completely...This stock rocks, even with a drop in some of their contracts, these guys are the leaders of the industry. not a bad place to set your table when the turn around occurs.

Now go vote!
Do you think that Transocean 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. Nokia is an Inside Value pick. Buffalo Wild Wings is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation, and the Fool owns shares of it. Suntech Power is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. 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 that he is 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.