With the birth of legal recreational marijuana just around the corner, any particular pot company’s success will depend upon good marketing and gaining exposure within Canada’s increasingly crowded marketplace. And by signing on KISS co-founder Gene Simmons, Vancouver’s Invictus MD Strategies Corp. (Invictus MD Strategies Stock Quote, Chart, News: TSXV:IMH) has taken a positive step forward in that capacity, says Russell Stanley of Echelon Wealth Partners, who maintains his “Speculative Buy” rating for IMH and 12-month target price of $3.60 per share. On Wednesday, Invictus announced signing on Simmons as “Chief Evangelist Officer,” with Simmons to help with branding and public awareness for the cannabis company. "Gene Simmons is a branding and merchandising genius, who not only created one of the most iconic bands of all time, but has spent decades building successful brands internationally in various industries," said Dan Kriznic, Chairman and CEO of Invictus in a press release. "Gene will lead marketing initiatives that will help spread the positive messages that dwell at the heart of Invictus in accordance with the strict regulations of Health Canada's Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and the Narcotic Control Regulations (NCR).” Stanley says the transaction —which includes the acquisition of Gene-Etics Strains Co. from Simmons for $8.4 million, along with $7.8 million in payment for management services, all totalling $13.0 million in stock and $3.2 million in cash— will benefit Invictus and should help close the valuation gap between IMH and its peers. “While we are leaving our estimates/valuation unchanged, we view this as a positive development that should generate exposure for IMH, which continues to trade at a discount to peers,” says the analyst in a special situations update to clients on Wednesday. “IMH trades at 6.6x our F2020E EBITDA, representing a 58 per cent discount to the broad peer group average EV/C2019 EBITDA at 15.8x, and a 35 per cent discount to its closest peers at 10.2x (as of writing),” says the analyst. The analyst notes that Invictus is on track to receive a Health Canada inspection later this month, a potential catalyst that should be the final prerequisite before IMH obtains its sales license. Stanley thinks that IMH will generate revenue and Adjusted EBITDA of $2.2 million and negative $9.9 million, respectively, in 2018 and $22.4 million and $5.4 million, respectively, in 2019. The analyst has reiterated his “Speculative Buy” rating and 12-month target of $3.60. The target represents a projected return of 83 per cent and is based on a 13.5x F2020E EBITDA valuation.