Nissan Motor Co <7201.T> reported its strongest quarterly operating profit in more than two years as sales surged in China and other major markets, but it left its cautious guidance unchanged amid an increasingly murky outlook for demand.

Japan's No.3 automaker is aiming to boost its global market share this year with sales growth of about 8 percent to 3.8 million units, driven by a revamped Micra/March subcompact, Juke crossover and other new models including the much-hyped Leaf electric car.

Nissan, held 43 percent by France's Renault SA , has outperformed the industry's growth so far this year especially in China, the world's biggest market, thanks to a model line-up more suited to local tastes.

Nissan confirmed it expects operating profit to grow 12 percent to 350 billion yen ($4 billion) in the year to March. A survey of 22 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S forecasts profit of 401 billion yen.

First-quarter results for Nissan are good and our recovery is vigorous and ahead of schedule, CEO Carlos Ghosn said in a statement.

Despite uncertainty surrounding the ongoing global economic recovery, raw material costs and exchange rate volatility, we are confident to achieve our 2010/11 forecast.

The euro has weakened to around 113 yen, versus Nissan's assumption of 120 yen for the year, but the company said it has virtually no exposure to the currency now because it builds most of the cars sold in Europe locally.

April-June operating profit rose to 167.9 billion yen ($1.92 billion) from 11.6 billion yen a year ago and beating the average 124.7 billion yen estimated by six analysts surveyed by Reuters.

First-quarter net profit was 106.7 billion yen, versus a 16.53 billion yen loss a year earlier.

Japanese rival Honda Motor Co <7267.T> is scheduled to report quarterly results on Friday and Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> on August 4.

Shares of Nissan have fallen about 15 percent in the year to date, in line with the Tokyo transport sector subindex <.ITEQP.T>.

The stock closed up 1.8 percent before the results were announced on Thursday, against a flat transport sector.

($1=87.47 Yen)

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim;; Editing by Lincoln Feast)