(Bloomberg) -- Novartis AG raised its forecast as sales of blockbuster medicines for heart disease and psoriasis outpaced expectations, giving the stock its biggest boost in nine months.  

Sales will grow at a high-single to low double-digit percentage this year, the Swiss drugmaker said Tuesday. Core operating income is expected to grow at a low double-digit to mid-teens pace. 

Novartis is pushing for growth after years of successive revamps as Chief Executive Officer Vas Narasimhan cut jobs and spun off units. 

The new forecast is “a significant positive surprise” that offers “much needed hopes for a return to beat-and-raise,” Peter Welford, an analyst at Jefferies, wrote in a note. 

The shares rose as much as 5% in Zurich trading, the most since July 18 last year. That brings the year’s gain to 7.8%. 

A more favorable outlook on coming competition from generic drugs is responsible for about a third of the upgrade, Chief Financial Officer Harry Kirsch said. 

The drugmaker is still paring its ranks: The company said earlier this month it will cut its global drug development workforce by 1% to 2% in the next few years. But the changes to be made now are tweaks rather than revamps, Narasimhan said in a Bloomberg TV interview. 

“We completed a major reorganization a few years ago, and that’s bearing fruit,” Narasimhan said. “We think we’re set up in the right way now through the end of this decade to drive the growth that we’ve outlined.” 

Novartis proposed former Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. Chairman and CEO Giovanni Caforio to replace Joerg Reinhardt, whose term as chairman will end next year. Reinhardt has led Novartis’s board since 2013, and tenure there is limited to 12 years. 

The handover won’t alter Novartis’s strategy or approach to deal-making, Kirsch said in a conference call with reporters. 

“Our focus is on strong internal research and development,” the CFO said, adding that the company will continue to seek bolt-on acquisitions to bulk up its pipeline of experimental medicines. Novartis looks at deals under a threshold of about $5 billion, Narasimhan added later in the TV interview. 

Read More: Swiss Pharma Giants Plot Different Paths for Next Blockbusters 

Novartis said sales of heart drug Entresto soared by more than a third to $1.88 billion last quarter, while revenue from psoriasis medication Cosentyx climbed by one-quarter to $1.33 billion. 

Sales of Pluvicto, a cancer medicine, were slightly short of analysts’ expectations. The supply chain for the drug, which must be produced shortly before patients take it, is improving and sales should continue to rise throughout the year, Kirsch said. 

--With assistance from Kriti Gupta, Guy Johnson and Anna Edwards.

(Updates with CEO comment from seventh paragraph)

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