If I asked you to cook up the ideal company, what would you say? No, no, I'm not asking you to tick off your favorite members of the Fortune 500 or some up-and-comer small cap that you've just found. I want you to think about the ingredients you'd give a company if you could dream it right into existence.

Would it be in a particular industry? Would it be services- or product-based? Would it have fat profit margins or would it make its money by doing a huge volume?

We could spend all day going over the details of this magnifique stock market dish, but I would guess that there is at least one ingredient that we'd all add liberally to our creation -- growth. All those other details are great, but how interesting can a business be if it's stagnating and lacks avenues for expansion?

Turning back to reality, I have dug up a handful of companies that actually exist and are expected to post significant growth in the years to come. These companies may not all be the picture of perfection, but I've also consulted the 145,000 members of the Motley Fool's CAPS community to get an idea which are our best bets.

Company

Expected Long-Term Growth

Forward Price-to-Earnings Ratio

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

Marvell Technology (NASDAQ:MRVL)

17%

15

****

Paychex (NASDAQ:PAYX)

13%

22

****

Continental

13%

13

*

Stryker (NYSE:SYK)

12%

15

*****

Seagate Technology (NYSE:STX)

12%

7

***

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS)

12%

9

**

General Electric (NYSE:GE)

10%

17

****

Sources: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's), Yahoo! Finance, and CAPS.

While these aren't meant to be formal recommendations, they could be a great place to kick off further research. In fact, let's dig in a bit further on Motley Fool Inside Value pick Stryker.

What makes Stryker so tasty?
A key ingredient investors need to look at when evaluating a company is whether it possesses any significant competitive advantages that help it stay ahead of competitors and keep profits flowing. While there is no litmus test, there are signposts that point to the existence of these competitive moats.

In the case of Stryker, it's a positive sign that its recent return on equity has exceeded that of competitors like Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) and Zimmer. We can also note that in its primary segment -- orthopedic products -- the company has outgrown many of its close competitors and maintains the No. 1 worldwide position. These are both signs that Stryker's products have some differentiating factor that makes them preferable to orthopedic customers, which, over the long term, will help the company continue to rake in profits for investors.

Of course, there are other aspects of Stryker that stand out. For instance in the company's president's letter for 2008, Stephen P. MacMillan said the company remained committed to taking care of its employees, despite the difficulties of the recession. That's the kind of long-term thinking that isn't often seen on Wall Street, and to me is a sign of a well-managed company.

And while Stryker's valuation isn't overly cheap, it seems very reasonable for a company of this quality growing at double-digit rates.

Perfection or poser?
While I would shy away from calling any stock perfect, Stryker, with its leadership position in the orthopedic market, gets as close as a stock can get in the CAPS community (five stars). Overall, 1,336 CAPS members think that Stryker's stock has what it takes to outperform the rest of the market, while just 36 think it will underperform.

CAPS member FinanceGuy58 became a Stryker bull in September and had this to say:

Big cap orthopedic/medical surgery company that got hammered in the downturn. A tremendous value if you can buy closer to $40. As people turn 60 those hips and knees get squeeky. Demographic trends highly favor the orthopedic business, even as margins decline due to pricing pressure. They will make it up on volume! The stock has performed [well] historically due to management's never ending focus on financial results.

I've already given Stryker's stock a thumbs-up in my CAPS portfolio, so now I want to know what you think. Share your thoughts in the comments section below or, better still, head over to CAPS and share your opinion with the entire CAPS community.

One of the attractive features of Stryker is the company's dividend, and it's dividends that Joe Magyer thinks makes these stocks 50 times better than gold.

Paychex and Stryker are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Paychex is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Stryker. 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 what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool. The Fool’s disclosure policy thinks that keeping it real is almost as important as keeping showered.