* Normalised headline EPS at 468.1 cents vs 380 cents
* Sales up 33 percent at 12 billion rand
JOHANNESBURG, March 6 (Reuters) - South African generic drug maker Aspen Pharmacare reported a 23 percent increase in first-half profit on Thursday, boosted by robust performance from its overseas business.
Africa's biggest maker of generics said diluted normalised headline EPS totalled 468.1 cents in the six months to end-December compared with 380 cents a year earlier.
Headline EPS, the main profit gauge in South Africa, strips out certain one-off and non-trading items.
The company said sales increased 33 percent to 12 billion rand ($1.12 billion) with sales from its Asian business growing at around three times the rate at home, while acquisitions helped nearly double sales in Europe and Latin America.
Shares in Aspen, which are up about 5 percent so far this year, gained 1.29 percent to 282.61 rand as of 1227 GMT.
Aspen has made an aggressive push into overseas markets to benefit for patent expiries on some of the best-selling name-brand drugs worth billions of dollars but that string of acquisitions have pushed up its borrowing.
"Debt levels are high but gearing is expected to decline steadily due to the strong operational cash flows," Aspen said in statement.
The company spent around 14 billion rand in the past year buying business such Merck & Co. Inc's factory plant in the Netherlands and thrombosis drugs from GlaxoSmithKline . ($1 = 10.7042 South African rand) (Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; editing by David Dolan)