US spice maker McCormick & Co has reported a rise in fourth-quarter net income and said it was well placed for 2005.

The company posted net income of US$87.4m, or 62 cents per share, for the fourth quarter to 30 November, compared to $84.4m, or 59 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Net sales were $744.1m, compared to $698.6m a year earlier.

For the full fiscal year, McCormick reported a record $2.5bn in sales, an increase of 11% above 2003. This sales growth was achieved with a 4% increase in volume, 4% from favourable foreign exchange rates, a 2% benefit from acquisitions, and a 1% increase in pricing and product mix. Higher volumes were achieved with new products, expanded distribution and more effective marketing. In 2004, new products developed in the past three years comprised 13% of sales.

"We are pleased with our financial performance and business achievements of 2004. We have created strong momentum in product development, marketing efforts and margin improvement initiatives as we look ahead to 2005," said Robert J. Lawless, chairman, president and CEO.