US chewing gum giant Wm Wrigley Jr has reported a rise in fourth-quarter earnings, as sales were boosted by solid volume growth and the Joyco acquisition.

The company said net earnings were US$117.0, or 52 cents per share, for the fourth quarter of 2004, compared to $109.9m, or 49 cents per share, for the year-ago period. Net sales rose to $961.9m from $821.2m a year earlier.

For the full year net earnings were up 11% to $493m, or $2.19 per share. Global sales climbed to $3.65bn, an increase of 19% from a year ago. The sales gain reflects solid global volume growth and favourable mix from Wrigley’s core business, as well as a 5% contribution from the Joyco acquisition. Translation of foreign currencies to a weaker US dollar contributed 5% to the year’s sales increases, the company said.

“Another year of record results is testimony to the strength of our long-term strategic plan, the talent of our global Wrigley team and the versatility of that team as we expand our products into new areas of confectionery,” said chairman, president and CEO Bill Wrigley, Jr.