US spice giant McCormick & Co. has booked an increase in full-year profits, driven by product innovation and expanded distribution during the year.

For the 12 months to the end of November, profits increased 14.7% to US$370.2m. Operating profit climbed 5.5% to $509.8m, the firm reported today (26 January). Sales reached $1.99bn, up from $1.91m a year ago.

Alan Wilson, McCormick’s chairman, president & CEO, said: In an economic environment that remains difficult in many of our major markets, we delivered strong financial performance that met or exceeded each of our financial goals for 2010. Our growth initiatives and operational achievements drove increases in both sales and profit.”

In the fourth quarter, profits rose 10% to $133.6m, while operating profits edged up 0.2% to $185.4m.

Sales in the period reached $638m from $605m in the prior-year period.

Looking ahead, McCormick said it expects sales to grow 5% – 7% in local currency. New products, brand marketing and expanded distribution – in both developed and emerging markets – are expected to grow sales 2%-4%, the firm said.

Earnings per share are expected to be in a range of $2.80 to $2.85 – a 6% – 8% increase from 2010 on a comparable basis.

McCormick shares were at $46.32 at close of trading yesterday.

Click here to view the full earnings release and click here for McCormick’s comments to analysts on commodity costs and NPD in 2011.