Xerox Corp., the copying machine gaint, yesterday reported an 18 percent rise in profits for the final quarter of 1977 to $94.1 million ($1.17 a share) from $80 million ($1) a year earlier. Profits for the year rose 12 percent to $406.6 million ($5.06) from $361.7 million ($4.50).

Revenues were $1.35 billion for the quarter and $5.08 billion for the year, up from $1.15 billion for the 1976 quarter and $4.42 billion for that year.

Chairman C. Peter McColough said both outright sales and leasing of copying machines rose strongly.Per-copy revenue from rented machines gained 13 percent.

Foreign operations were affected adversely by currency translation losses, McColough said. Nevertheless, foreign revenues were up 16.5 percent and domestic revenues gained 14 percent.

McColough said the full beneifical impact of five new products introduced late in 1977 will not be felt until this year.

Union Pacific Corp., parent of the railroad, notched a record performance in 1977. Some segments of the nation's third largest transportation company had spectacular earnings, notably the Rocky Mountain Energy Division, with a 43 percent rise.

Net income of the railroad business was up 18 percent from the year before, while Champlin Petroleum Division profits rose 11 percent. Earnings of the company's Upland Industries were off slightly from the previous year although Ames said its improvement throughout the year was steady.

Earnings for the year amounted to $221.9 million ($4.68 a share) compared with $187.7 million ($4.02) the previous year. The 1976 figure excluded an extraordinary credit of $7.5 million. Revenues totaled $2.5 billion, up 23 percent from $2.02 billion in 1976.

In the fourth quarter, the company earned $63.8 million ($1.34) on revenues of $678.7 million against $57.96 million ($1.24) on revenues of $553.60 million in the final 1976 period.

Eastern Airlines, which hasn't paid a cash dividend to common shareholders in more than eight years, yesterday proposed issuing scrip with which shareholders could fly for as little as half-fare.

Eastern also announced its second best profit in history - $34.7 million on revenues of $2.04 billion. The earnings were equal to $1.72 a share in 1976, when a wage freeze, tax breaks and unusual foreign exchange gains combined to boost earnings. Profits in 1976 were $45.2 million on revenues of $1.83 billion.

The Proposed Transportation Dividend Vouchers, announced at a directors meeting in Detroit, would have to be approved by the Civil Aeronautics Board and the Internatl Revenue Service.

Holders of common stock could use the vouchers to pay up to half the cost of flights for themselves, spouses or children. Eastern officials said they would determine how much scrip each of the approximately 90,000 shareholders would get upon approval of the plan by the CAB.

"Eastern has not paid a cash dividend to its common stockholders since 1969," said Eastern's chairman and preisdent, Frank Borman. "This has been a subject of concern at Eastern because the stockholders upon whom we depend so greatly are in danger of becoming the 'forgotten people'."

The program is another attempt by Borman to deal with Eastern's coming need for captial to modernize its fleet.

While earnings have sharply increased since poor years in 1974 and 1975, the company felt it needed to retain the profit in order to modernize its equipment.Its last dividend was 12 1/2 cents in June 1969. Years of mediocre profits had led Eastern to borrow heavily, and bankers had become reluctant to lend more until profits increased.

A company official noted that Borman's plan not only would pay shareholders something for their investment, but should generate some new business.

If federal authorities approve, Eastern proposes to issue certificates based on how many shares a stockholder owns. The certificates could be used for passenger fares or freight, but only on Eastern flights. They couldn't be converted to cash of used during certain holidays when flights usually are filled.

Eastern said no U.S. airline has used such a plan, althoug a similar one was used by Swissair for several years.

Armco Steel Corp. yesterday reported a sharp recovery in the fourth quarter of its machinery, manufacturing and service business, and a modest upturn in steel making operations.

The company said fourth-quarter profits increased by 112 percent ot $51.949 million ($1.69 a share) from $24.422 million (76 cents) a year ago.Revenues were $913.4 million, 19.5 percent from $764.2 million in the last quarter of 1976.

For the year, however, profits were down 3 percent to $119.8 million ($3.80) from $123.7 million ($2.93) in 1976. Sales rose by 12.6 percent to $3.55 billion from $3.15 billion.

Armco said the fourth quarter was the strongest of the year for its steel making business as volume rose and prices firmed.

Armco said it expects total U.S. steel shipments to rise by about 6.5 million tons, or roughly 7 percent this year over 1977.

The company's forecast that 99.3 million tons will be shipped this year is slightly higher than U.S. Steel Corp.'s estimate of 95 million tons. Last year, the U.S. steel industry shipped about 92 million tons.

Consolidated Edison Co. of New York yesterday announced a 7.3 percent increase in profits for 1977 and said it was raising its dividend.

But it predicted lower profits for 1978 and said the decrease could be substantial.

Con Ed is the nation's sixth largest utility. It sustained a disastrous blackout in July.

Con Ed said fourth-quarter profits fell by 9 percent to $59.6 million (78 cents a share) from $65.7 million (89 cents) although revenues for the period rose by 1 percent to $713.1 million from $705 million.

For the year, Con Ed's profits totalled $323.6 million ($4.53), up from 1976's $301.4 million ($4.18). Revenues were up nearly 5 percent to $3.02 billion from $2.88 billion.

The utility said it was raising the quarterly dividend to 55 cents a share from 50 cents, following a 10-cent-a-share increase a year ago. But it said even the latest increase represented less purchasing power for stockholders than the $1.80 annual dividend paid out in 1965.

Sperry Rand Corp., a manufacturer of computers, farm equipment and other products, reported an 8 percent rise in third-quarter profits, and predicted its fourth quarter would be significantly stronger.

Profits for the quarter ended Dec. 31 totalled $39.6 million ($1.04 a share diluted against the year-ago period's $36.7 million (96 cents diluted). Sales totalled $906.1 million, up 12 percent from the year-ago period's 808.7 million

Nine-month profits were up 7.3 percent to $117.036 million ($3.07 against the year-ago period's $109 million. Sales were up 8.6 percent to $2.578 billion from $2.373 billion.