Government Services Savings & Loan, Inc., a thrift institution based in Bethesda, yesterday doubled its cash dividend rate and reported a 56 per cent gain in profits for the year ended March 31.

Earnings totaled $1.74 million ($2.14 a share), a record high, compared with $1.12 million ($1.37) in the previous year. In the fourth quarter alone, profits rose 24 per cent to $425,809 (52 cents) vs. $342,761 (42 cents).

Chairman Arthur J. Phelan Jr. said the S&L also set records for savings, asset and loan volume: Total assets rose 3 per cent to $271 million, deposits were up 5 per cent to $241 million and mortgage loans increased 3 per cent to $227 million. A continued low level of bank borrowing costs coupled with a decline in the average rate of interest paid on savings contributed to the record earnings, Phelan said. Directors of the S&L voted to increase the quarterly cash dividend of Government Services to 8 cents a share from 4 cents, starting with a May 13 payment to stockholders of record April 20.

W. Bell & Co., Inc., a retail catalog and showroom firm based in Rockville, reported a 41 per cent gain in profits for the nine months ended March 26. Earnings totaled $540,900 (57 cents a share) compared with $384,700 (40 cents) in the previous 39 weeks. Sales were up 39 per cent to $33.7 million.

In the traditionally poor quarter ended March 26, Bell had a loss of $12,200 compared with a year-earlier loss of $22,900 and sales rose to $8.7 million from $5.5 million.

Best Products Co., a Virginia catalog retailer, reported record sales and profits for the quarter and nine months ended March 26. In the three-month period, profits were up 114 per cent to $304,000 (5 cents a share) compared with $142,000 (2 cents) and sales increased 26 per cent to $56.5 million. Nine-month profits were $14.2 million ($2.44) vs. $8 million ($1.37) as sales rose 36 per cent to $318 million.

PepCom Industries, which owns eight soft drink bottling firms, reported first-quarter profits of $885,000 (81 cents a share) compared with $796,000 (74 cents) a year earlier. Sales rose to $11.2 million from $10.5 million.

Hittman Corp., a Columbia technology firm, reported first-quarter profits of $148,000 (22 cents a share) vs. $88,000 (13 cents) a year ago.