US fastfood giant McDonald’s has reported a sharp rise in fourth-quarter and full-year net income, boosted by higher sales and increased customer numbers.

The company reported net income of US$397.9m, or 31 cents per share, for the fourth quarter to 31 December 2004, compared to $125.7m, or 10 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Quarterly revenues rose to $5.01bn, from $4.56bn a year earlier.

For the full year, McDonald’s said net income was $2.28bn, or $1.79 per share, compared to $1.47bn, or $1.15 per share, in 2003. Revenues were $19.06bn for 2004, compared to $17.14bn in the previous year.

“From a financial perspective, 2004 was a tremendous year for McDonald’s. Through our strategic focus on operational excellence in our restaurants, and leadership marketing that continues to connect with consumers, we increased the number of customers served per day by 1.6 million. Comparable sales were positive across all geographic segments during each and every quarter, and we delivered double-digit growth in sales and operating income for the year. Each of these accomplishments validates the strength of our Plan to Win and demonstrates the power of growing by being better not just bigger,” said chief executive Jim Skinner.

McDonald’s also said that to date in January, US sales remain strong, and Europe’s sales trends have strengthened. France, Germany and the UK are each showing positive comparable sales for the first three weeks of the month, with the introduction of a new every day value strategy contributing strongly to Germany’s sales performance.

In 2005, the company said, it expects to add approximately 350 net new McDonald’s restaurants. In April the company will celebrate its 50th anniversary.