Nintendo has reported its most profitable quarter in almost a decade as global sales of its new Switch console soared in the runup to Christmas.

Nintendo has raised its operating profit forecast for the year to the end of March by a third, after phenomenal Switch sales fuelled the company's most profitable quarter since 2009.

The Nintendo Switch, a hybrid between a home console and a handheld machine, has transformed the company's fortunes, proving to be its first big hit since the Wii was launched in 2006.

Sales of the Switch have hit 14.86m for the period since launch last March to the end of December.

This means that in just 10 months it has outsold its disappointing predecessor, the Wii U, which was launched in 2012 and took five years to sell 13.5m consoles before being scrapped as a commercial failure last year.

Nintendo's shares have doubled since the launch of the Switch, which can be used either handheld or with a TV when in a dock, hitting a decade high on optimism that it will carve out a global fan base alongside the Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox consoles.

Tatsumi Kimishima, Nintendo's president, praised the success of the Switch but acknowledged that for it to be a true global success it needed to become popular beyond core gaming fans.

"During our first year, we've been fairly successful in selling the Switch to customers who have an interest in video games," he said. "From our second year, we have to expand it dramatically to those who don't play video games that often."

The company is targeting Switch sales of almost 17m by the end of March and 20m by the end of its next financial year in March 2019.

Kimishima said previously that if the Switch hit its target by Christmas, it would be potentially heading towards the global success level of the Wii.

One of the bestselling consoles of all time, the Wii was launched in November 2006, selling 20m consoles in its first year and exceeding 100m over its lifetime.