Bethlehem Steel Corp., the nation's second largest steel maker, yesterday said its profits fell by 30.6 per cent in 1976. Top-ranked U.S. Steel reported Tuesday its 1976 profits dropped 27 per cent for the year.

Bethlehem chairman Lewis Foy attributed the earnings drop from 1975 results to slow demand for steel in capital goods markets and to low profit margins. He noted that profits decreased despite increases in production, shipments and total revenues.

Bethlehem said its net income for 1976 was $168 million ($3.85 a share) on sales of $5.3 billion. In 1975, the firm made $242 million ($5.54) on sales of $5.03 billion.

For the fourth quarter of 1976, the company's profits were $39.7 million (91 cents) compared with 1975 fourth-quarter figures of $75.6 million ($1.72). Sales rose from $1.19 billion to $1.22 billion.

Foy said Bethlehem believs there will be an upturn in steel demand this year, but, "It does not appear that this recovery will occur in the first quarter."

Bethlehem's shipments of rolled steel increased from 11.9 million tons in 1975 to 12.8 million tons in 1976, and raw steel production for 1976 was 18.9 million tons, up 1.4 million tons.

In another development, Bethlehem's board of directors declared a regular quarterly common stock dividend of 50 cents a share payable March 10 to holders of record Feb. 10.

General Foods Corp. reported a 15 per cent decline in third-quarter earnings, reflecting lower profits from its coffee business in the United States and abroad. Sales recorded a gain of 23 per cent.

For the third quarter ended Jan. 1. the company earned $36.8 million (74 cents a share), down from $43.2 million, (87 cents) in the year-earlier period. Sales rose to $1.2 billion from $978.2 million.

For the first nine months, net income climbed 19 per cent to $134.5 million ($2.70) from $113.0 million ($2.27) in the corresponding periond last year. Sales totaled $3.4 billion, a gain of 23 per cent over $2.8 billion.

General Foods is the nation's largest coffee processor.

"While a significant part of the third-quarter sales gain resulted from higher coffee prices, physical volumes in our U.S. food businesses continued strong, with packaged desserts, coating mixes, dessert toppings and Pet Foods performing especially well," chairman James L. Ferguson said.

Philip Morris, Inc., reported record fourth-quarter earnings equal to $1.12 a share compared with 90 cents a share a year earlier as operating revenues rose by almost 20 per cent to $1.16 billion from $971.85 million.

Net earnings for the quarter were $67.03 million, an increase of more than 27 per cent from the $52.63 million earned in the fourth quarter of 1975.

Full-year results for 1976 also set records. Net income was $265.67 million ($4.47 a share) on revenues of $4.29 billion against $211.64 million ($3.62) on revenues of $3.64 billion in 1975.

Chairman Joseph F. Cullman said the improvements in 1976 "resulted from continued volume growth in both cigarattes and beer, price increases which offset higher costs and improved production efficiencies."

He said the company's Miller Brewing subsidiary moved into third place among U.S. beer makers as it produced 18.4 million barrels in 1976, an increase of 5.5 million barrels. Cigarette volume of Philip Morris USA rose 7.5 per cent, the company said.

For the fifth consecutive year, Raytheon Co., a maker of sophisticated missile and electronic systems, reported record earnings and sales.

Last year's earnings per share were $5.58 compared with $4.69 in 1975. Net income was $85.242 million on sales of $2.463 billion. In 1975, net income was $70.973 million on sales of $2.245 billion.

Net income was 20.1 per cent higher than the previous year on a sales increase of 9.7 per cent.

Thomas L. Phillips, chairman and chief executive of the diversified electronics manufacturer, said the 1976 growth was particularly strong in the areas of government business and major appliances.

Fourth-quarter net income was $21.241 million ($1.39 a share) compared with $16.309 million ($1.11) in the last quarter of 1975 as sales hit $687.405 million compared with $505.196 million a year earlier.