No matter your age, investing in the stock market is one of the best ways to predictably generate wealth over the long term. But stocks can also be volatile, and both minimizing risk and protecting your principal become even more important in your golden years. And one of the best ways to do that is by purchasing so-called value stocks -- that is, companies whose share prices reflect a discount to what the business is actually worth. 

To that end, we asked three top Motley Fool investors to each pick a value stock that they believe senior citizens should consider buying today. Read on to learn why they chose Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), Michaels Companies (NASDAQ:MIK), and Target (NYSE:TGT).

Sepia-toned image of an old-fashioned pocket watch sitting atop U.S. dollar bills

Image source: Getty Images.

Caffeinate your returns with Starbucks

Steve Symington (Starbucks): Starbucks hasn't been getting much love from investors in recent weeks, and I think now is a great time for any investor to consider grabbing shares of the coffee giant.

For perspective, shares plunged more than 9% the day after Starbucks' most recent quarterly report in late July, despite solid 8.1% top-line growth and a 4% increase in comparable-store sales, the latter of which included 5% and 7% growth in the U.S. and China, respectively. Investors were less impressed, however, with Starbucks' cautious forward outlook, which called for full-year revenue growth to be near the low end of its prior 8% to 10% range, and for comps growth in the current quarter to arrive at a modest 3% to 4%. 

In addition, Starbucks announced it would close all 379 of its Teavana retail locations. The company explained that after a strategic review of that business, the persistent under-performance of those stores was likely to continue for the foreseeable future. However, it's clear that the Teavana decision was an astute move that should benefit Starbucks' overall business over the long run.

The market also appears to be overlooking the fact that Starbucks moved last quarter to acquire the remaining 50% share of its East China joint venture for $1.3 billion -- its largest acquisition to date -- giving it 100% ownership of roughly 1,300 additional Starbucks stores operating in Mainland China. Starbucks simultaneously reiterated plans to increase its store base in the country from 2,800 locations to over 5,000 by 2021. All told, that puts Starbucks on track to increase its store base to roughly 32,000 locations worldwide, up from fewer than 27,000 today.

For investors willing to look past Starbucks' near-term challenges and instead focus on its plans for the next few years, I think the recent pullback offers an excellent opportunity to open or add to a position.

Traditional retailing in the digital age

Anders Bylund (Michaels): Retail stocks may look like a bad idea these days, but some stores will weather the online assault led by Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) better than others. Arts and crafts retailer The Michaels Companies is one of those survivors.

The company is not entirely protected from the changing consumer market, of course. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch, and online retailers will always pose a threat to any traditional store chain's revenue streams. On that note, management is moving a little bit closer to the e-commerce sector. For example, Michaels is expanding its online presence for the holidays this year, and the company is about to launch a custom framing service known as framerspoint.com.

But the arts and crafts market is unique in many ways. Consumers in this sector want to see, touch, and feel the actual products they are about to incorporate into their creative projects. No online store can ever completely replace the in-store experience on that note.

So, while Amazon and friends are stealing market share from many old-school retailers, Michaels is doing just fine. Sales have shown steady growth over the last five years, and the company is converting 9% of its incoming revenue into cold, hard cash profits.

But the market has not caught on to this solid success story yet. Shares are trading at the bargain-bin rate of 11.5 times trailing earnings and 8.6 times free cash flow. The stock does not pay a dividend today, but Michaels could very well kick-start an effective dividend policy given these strong cash flows. And there's nothing wrong with buying low and selling high, even for investors approaching their golden years.

A solid retailer adapting to change

Tim Green (Target): Brick-and-mortar retailers are out of favor, and that means investors have the opportunity to scoop up shares of the strongest players at value prices. E-commerce is changing the face of retail, but it would be foolish to believe that retailers are incapable of adapting. Target is a good example of a retailer taking the necessary steps to compete in a new age of retail.

Shares of Target trade for just 13 times the average analyst estimate for full-year earnings. After a period of weakness, comparable sales are growing again, jumping 1.3% in the latest quarter. That growth was driven by a 2.1% increase in store traffic and partially offset by more aggressive pricing. Target is investing in exclusive brands, and it appears that those investments are getting feet through the door.

Target is also working to grow its e-commerce business. Digital sales surged 32% year over year during the latest quarter, and the company is aiming to goose digital sales further with initiatives like same-day delivery. Target acquired start-up Grand Junction in August, a company that offers software for managing retailers' local deliveries. Target also offers next-day delivery in some markets, with up to 45 lbs. of household essentials shipped next-day for a flat $4.99 fee.

The bottom line may take a hit as Target invests in the future. But with a decades-long track record, an attractive valuation, and growth initiatives that seem right on the nose, Target is worth consideration by senior citizens looking for a relatively safe retail stock. A 4.1% dividend yield is icing on the cake.

Anders Bylund owns shares of Amazon. Steve Symington has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Timothy Green has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and Starbucks. The Motley Fool recommends The Michaels Companies. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.