Since the end of the Great Recession, all eyes have been on growth stocks. Historically low lending rates and abundant access to cheap capital have allowed fast-paced businesses to thrive. But pull the lens back a bit further and you'll see that value stocks are the true long-term outperformer.

In 2016, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch released a report that compared the performance of value stocks to growth stocks over a 90-year period (1926-2015). The result was a clear-cut outperformance for value: A 17% annual return for value stocks versus a 12.6% annual return for growth stocks. Even though value stocks may be playing second fiddle to growth stocks at the moment, they're a solid investment choice for people with a long-term mindset.

The following trio of brand-name value stocks all stand out as having the tools necessary to make investors richer in September, and most importantly, well beyond.

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Ford Motor Company

The first value stock ready to do some burnouts in investors' portfolios is one of Detroit's finest, Ford Motor Company (F -3.92%).

Typically, auto stocks like Ford are valued at single-digit price-to-earnings (P/E) multiples, which are well below those of the broader market. These low P/E ratios are a reflection of the cyclical nature of the auto industry, as well as the high debt levels automakers like Ford usually carry on their balance sheets. But after more than a decade of rather ho-hum performance, the long-awaited catalyst that could send Ford's shares notably higher has arrived.

The multi-decade opportunity awaiting Ford and its peers is the electrification of consumer and enterprise vehicles. Replacing combustion-engine vehicles won't happen overnight, but the demand to go green should lead to a sustainable uptick in sales and profit potential. With the full understanding of the opportunity that lies at its doorstep, Ford is pledging to spend at least $30 billion through 2025 on electric vehicles (EVs) and the development of batteries for its EVs. By 2025, it aims to have launched 30 new EVs worldwide. 

Keep in mind that while Ford is a well-known player in the U.S. market, it has its eyes set on being a major auto company in China, the world's largest auto market. Ford's established brand and infrastructure should give it a leg up on the mostly nascent EV competition in China.

Also, no discussion of Ford would be complete without noting how overwhelmingly strong sales of its F-Series pickups have been for decades. The F-Series has been the best-selling vehicle (not truck, vehicle!) in the U.S. for the past 39 years. Since trucks offer juicier margins than sedans, the F-Series continues to play a key role in advancing Ford's bottom line.

Considering how many catalysts are in Ford's sails, a forward P/E ratio of less than 7 doesn't do this company justice.

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Western Digital

If you think Ford is cheap, based on its forward earnings potential, take a closer look at storage solutions specialist Western Digital (WDC -0.60%), which can be purchased for less than six times Wall Street's estimated fiscal 2022 earnings per share.

The reason Western Digital is so cheap has to do with storage being a highly cyclical and generally commoditized industry. Seemingly every couple of years, we see data storage companies contending with supply issues or pricing pressures. The thing to note, though, is that quite a few of these external pressures turn out to be one-time events, such as natural disasters, and are not an indication of poor supply and demand oversight.

Believe it or not, the pandemic has been a positive for Western Digital on multiple fronts. The company's storage business has seen a healthy boost from an increase in notebook and desktop sales, as well as growing industrial demand (this includes the storage needs for new automobiles). 

The company is benefiting from the gaming console replacement cycle as well, which began late last year. New consoles are far more sophisticated than their predecessors, and as you can imagine, they require considerably more storage capacity. Western Digital is seeing a nice bump in sales from gaming.

But the most exciting opportunity for Western Digital looks to be its role in providing storage solutions for data centers. As businesses pushed their data into the cloud during the pandemic, it became readily apparent that storage needs would grow. While this is a positive for the company's well-known hard-disk drives, it's Western Digital's NAND flash solutions that could one day become the staple storage solution in data centers.

Suffice it to say, Western Digital looks like a screaming bargain at its current valuation.

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Merck

A third value stock with the potential to make you richer in September, and well beyond, is pharmaceutical giant Merck (MRK 1.22%). Shares of the company can currently be scooped up for a multiple of 12 times Wall Street's forecasted earnings for 2022.

Whereas most healthcare stocks have fared exceptionally well over the trailing year, Merck's shares are actually down, which makes it one of the Dow Jones Industrial Average's worst performers. It would appear that Wall Street wasn't thrilled with Merck's coronavirus vaccine failing to impress in clinical studies (the program was subsequently abandoned), or that its earnings forecast was reduced following the spinoff of Organon in early June. However, neither of these issues are true long-term concerns.

What investors should be paying attention to is Merck's fast-growing cancer immunotherapy, Keytruda. Sales of Merck's top-selling drug nearly hit $4.2 billion in the second quarter, putting it on pace for an annual sale run-rate of over $16 billion. Considering that Keytruda is being examined in dozens of clinical trials as a monotherapy and combination treatment, it has a really good chance to expand its label and become one of the best-selling drugs in the world.

Just as intriguing is the exceptional growth Merck has been witnessing in its animal health division. Although livestock treatment sales are up by 18% this year, it's the 35% year-to-date uptick in companion animal revenue that's turning heads. Pet expenditures are virtually recession-proof, which makes this operating segment a good bet to drive sales and profits higher for a long time to come.

The icing on the cake is that investors can pocket a market-topping 3.4% annual yield while they wait for the investment community to come to its senses on Merck.