BankAmerica Corp., owner of this country's biggest bank, Bank of America, earned $2.72 a share in 1977, up from $2.42 in 1976 on 6 million fewer shares outstanding.

The San Franciso-based corporation reported net income of $396.3 million, up 17.7 per cent from $336.8 million in 1976.

Fourth-quarter net was $109.4 million (75 cents a share), up 16.2 per cent from $94.3 million (65 cents) a year earlier.

President R.H. Clausen said the gains came primarily from operations in California. The bank's overseas business was virtually level with the previous year's results. Its credit card business grew by nearly 40 per cent; its California consumer and real estate loans, by about 19 per cent.

In Buffalo, Marine Midland Banks, Inc., reported it had a 45 per cent gain in profit in the fourth quarter of 1977 to 48 cents a share from 33 cents a year ealier. Operating profit was up 80 per cent.

For the full year, Marine Midland earned $19.62 million ($1.38 a share) against $8.16 million (64 cents) in 1976.

Republic Steel Corp., citing pressures from foreign imports, weather-caused cutbacks and labor problems with suppliers, yesterday reported a 37.7 per cent drop in net income in 1977 compared with 1976.

The nation's fourth largest steel maker said net income was $41 million ($2.54 a share) in 1977 compared with $65.9 million ($4.07) in 1976 Sales rose to $2.91 billion from $2.55 billion.

Republic said, however, that its fourth-quarter 1977 net income of nearly $15 million (93 cents) was 61.7 per cent higher than the $9.2 million (57 cents) reported in the same period of 1976. Sales rose to $732.8 million from $584.3 million.

International Paper Co., the world's largest paper and pulp producer, reported that net earnings dipped 8 per cent last year to $234 million ($4.98 a share) from $254 million ($4.98) a year earlier.

But the company said fourth-quarter profits rose 66 per cent over those for the same period in 1976.

The decline in yearly profits was attributed to "several important products lines" that were under "operating margin pressure" from increasing raw material, fuel, labor and transportation cost.

Sales for 1977 climbed to a record $3.67 billion from 1976's $3.54 billion.

Fourth-quarter profits totaled $64 million ($1.35) on revenues of $949 million compared with 1976 fourth-quarter earnings of $48 million ($1.02) on sales of 884 million.

Bendix Corp. yesterday said it earned record profits in the first quarter of its fiscal year.

Profits for the three months ended Dec. 31 were $28.5 million ($1.28 a share), up 6.3 per cent from the previous year's $26.8 million ($1.20).

Revenues rose by 10.8 per cent from $765 million $848 million.