US fast food giant McDonald's has reported a 5% rise in profits for last year, fuelled by a record $24 billion in sales worldwide. McDonald's said net profit rose to $4.95 billion last year, up 5% compared with 2009.

For the fourth quarter, the gain was a weaker 2% from the same period a year earlier at $1.24 billion. The full-year profit missed Wall Street expectations, but the fourth quarter was slightly higher. Earnings per share of $4.58 for 2010 were below the average estimate of $4.60.

The company known as the home of the 'golden arches' said revenue hit a record $24.1 billion in 2010, up 6% from 2009. Fourth-quarter revenue of $6.2 billion was 4% higher than a year earlier. Sales were in line with analysts' forecasts.

Jim Skinner, McDonald's chief executive, also said momentum was continuing in January with global comparable sales expected to increase 4-5%.

McDonald's, which has more than 32,000 restaurants in 117 countries, said sales across all geographic segments had increased for every quarter. Despite severe winter conditions in the US and Europe in the fourth quarter, sales rose 4.4% and 3.4% respectively.

Japan, Australia and China led the 5.5% growth in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa segment. McDonald's said in December it would add 200 new restaurants in 2011 across China, a key high-growth market.

The company faces increased competition in China, where it trails KFC, owned by Yum! Brands, which has 3,200 locations compared with about 1,100 McDonald's outlets.