If you're truly long-term-minded, then the potential for a September swoon doesn't deter you. And that may well be for the best. Although this is supposed to be a tough time of year -- this year in particular in light of the big rally from last year's lows -- stocks still log gains about half the time in September. Moreover, the average monthly loss suffered by the S&P 500 in September is hardly devastating. It's often an entry point into stocks before the usual year-end bullishness, in fact.

With that as the backdrop, here's a closer look at three great stocks to buy before the current month comes to a close. Two of the three have been in the red for the past few weeks for no particularly good reason.

ViacomCBS

ViacomCBS (NASDAQ:VIAC) (NASDAQ:VIAC.A) is one of the two names down for no good reason.

You may recall the drama from March, when hedge fund Archegos Capital was forced to sell its sizable stake in ViacomCBS in order to meet a margin call. While the stock was left overly vulnerable to major profit-taking thanks to more than a 700% run-up from last March's low to March's peak, that doesn't make its three-day, 52% sell-off any less painful for those who stepped in near the top. Those investors didn't really learn what was going on until the plunge was nearly over. Only in retrospect did the scope of the selling make sense.

Clock face reading "time to buy."

Image source: Getty Images.

The funny thing is, while the steep sell-off was rooted in somewhat artificial bearish pressure and not a reflection of the company's likely future, ViacomCBS shares are still trading right around where they were once that plunge had run its course.

Big mistake. This media company is still firing on all cylinders, particularly as it pertains to streaming. Last quarter's total streaming revenue was up 92% year over year on a combination of subscription fee revenue as well as ad-supported platforms. ViacomCBS now serves 42 million worldwide paying streaming subscribers, and its 52 million fans of free-to-watch PlutoTV more than doubled the company's streaming ad revenue.

The slow demise of cable television may be serving as a headwind for its CBS arm, but the company is clearly answering the call of streaming's growth. You can plug into this dividend-paying stock while it's priced at only 10 times next year's expected earnings.

Caesars Entertainment

It would be easy to doubt resort and casino operator Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) has a particularly bright foreseeable future. The delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is starting to stifle tourism again, and in light of strained trade relations and a sweeping regulatory crackdown on many of the country's companies, China's Macau gambling enclave brings more risk than reward to the table at this time.

There's a reason, however, that shares of Caesars are holding up under rather difficult circumstances. The company is quickly positioning itself as a centerpiece of the legal sports betting market. It's recently inked deals with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans that make Caesars the exclusive, official gaming partner with those two teams, and it's also entered into a partnership with Genius Sports that connects Caesars' sportsbook with Genius Sports' professional sports content.

And that's just a smattering of the sports-minded dealmaking that's been underway of late. The New Orleans Saints' football stadium is now called Caesars Superdome. The Fiesta Bowl is teaming up with Caesars to pioneer a new sort of betting and fantasy gaming platform focused on a college football bowl game.

It doesn't take a great deal of reading between the lines to realize Caesars Entertainment is making a play for the sports betting market, as it should. Technavio estimates the global legal sports betting market will grow at nearly 10% per year through 2024, expanding by $134 billion over the course of that four-year stretch. Caesars Entertainment can handle a couple of bumps in the road -- like a rekindled pandemic -- in the meantime.

Target

Finally, add Target (NYSE:TGT) to your list of top stocks to buy in September following its 8% pullback from last month's highs. These pullbacks tend not to last very long or cut all that deep.

It's a tough name for some investors to get behind. It competes with mega-retailer Walmart on the brick-and-mortar front, and faces off with dominant Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) in the e-commerce arena. Both are tough competitors that strive to prevent rivals from gaining any foothold they can.

There's much to be said for being a smaller, nimbler, more personable player, though, and Target is smartly capitalizing on its unique, size-based opportunities.

Case in point: Target operates around 65 in-store shops dedicated solely to Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) merchandise, but aims to establish 100 more of these areas before the end of this year. The agreement doesn't preclude other retailers from offering much of the same merchandise. It does, however, position Target as a top-of-mind destination for shoppers looking for a specific Disney toy.

That's especially the case now that Walt Disney plans on closing at least 60 of its own retail shops that offer Disney-branded goods. Walmart might struggle to do something similar, and Walt Disney is seemingly disinterested in letting an online platform like Amazon take any real role in its customers' experiences.

Target's more personalized, more curated feel has also allowed the company to build a huge private label business and successfully operate small-format neighborhood stores... a format that vexed other retailers including Walmart.

The end result of all these initiatives is a retailer with surprisingly reliable revenue and earnings growth, even outside of the pandemic's positive effect.

The stock's a winner too, running from less than $60 per share four years ago to the current price near $245 now, although that's still well below the consensus target of $281 per share.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.