American Can Co. earned $25.9 million ($1.30 a share) in the final quarter of 1977, up from $21.6 million ($1.08) a year earlier, as sales rose to $889.9 million from $705.2 million.

For the year, American Can earned $114 million ($5.76) sales of $3.442 billion compared with $100.9 million ($5.10) on sales of $2.991 billion.

The gain in profits was made despite a 47.6 percent higher effective federal tax rate on the company's operations last year and a loss of 13 cents a share on foreign currency translations against only 5 cents a share in 1976.

Chairman William F. May said packaging operations - including beverage cans and paper products - all produced gains, but these were offset somewhat by higher marketing costs.

Getty Oil Co. reported higher results for both the 1977 fourth quarter and full year.

In the final quarter, the company earned $85.1 million ($4.13 a share) up form $71 million ($3.80) in the year-ago period, revenues rose from $873.1 million to $960 million.

For the 12 months, net income was $309.1 million ($15.11) compared with $258.5 million ($3.81) in 1976. Revenues totaled $3.5 billion against $3.3 billion the previous year.

The 1977 results included the former operations of Mission Corp. and S. Kelly Oil Co., which were merged into Getty Jan. 31, 1977.

Harold E. Berg, president, said the improved earnings from operations primarily reflected Getty's interest in North Sea crude oil production. The company's earnings from domestic petroleum exploration and production declined in 1977 because of lower production and increased operating and exploration costs.