Aspen Pharmacare’s share price rose as much as 8.6% to R279.46 on Thursday morning after issuing an upbeat trading statement.

Aspen said it expected to report on March 8 that its interim headline earnings per share (HEPS) for the six months to end-December rose between 28% and 32%.

Thursday’s rally took Aspen comfortably back from the slump it suffered in early January, when it sunk under R235 a share on speculation that it was short-seller Viceroy Research’s next target. This subsequently turned out to be Capitec.

On January 30, Aspen rallied 6.3% after announcing it had received an unsolicited approach from an unnamed potential buyer of its global infant milk formula business, which it calls "nutritionals".

Aspen said it had appointed UK-based Centerview Partners as financial adviser to assist in the potential sale.

The group said its nutritionals business had manufacturing plants in SA, New Zealand and Mexico, and generated R3.2bn in revenue in the first half of its 2017 financial year.