Most major corporations reporting yesterday boasted of strong first quarter gains compared with year-ago figures.

Caterpillar Tractor Co. posted a 24 percent rise in profits on a 19.6 percent sales advance.

The company said net income jumped to $119.4 million ($1.38 a share) on sales of $1.97 million compared with $98 million($1.14) a year ago on sales of $1.63 billion.

The company said the gains resulted from larger unit volume, which occurred in spite of higher income tax rates. The Japanese partnership, Caterpillar Mitsubishi Ltd., reported a loss on currency translations although it registered an operating profit.

The increase on domestic sales was 35.4 percent, with diesel engine sales up sharply and mining machinery sales unaffected by the coal strike, the company said.

Teledyne Inc. said its first-quarter earnings rose to $52.3 million ($4.38 a share) from $46.3 million ($3.87) a year ago. Sales increased to $578 million from $546 million.

PPG Industries reported a modest improvement in first-quarter profits together with a $70.5 million sales gain.

The company said net income rose to $35,6 million ($1.14 a share) on sales of $648 million compared with $35.2 million ($1.13) on sales of $577.5 million a year ago.

Chairman Robinson Barker said the higher revenues reflected inflationary increases and higher unit volume of sales, especially in its glass and coatings and resins divisions.

"Uncertainties on the national scene such as the apparent fueling of inflation and the lack of progress on an energy program, are disturbing symptoms," he said, "but the current outlook for the second quarter is for the normal seasonal economic upturn."

Raytheon Co. recorded a 41.5 percent advance in earnings and a 16.3 percent improvement in sales for the first quarter over the same period a year earlier.

The company said profits rose to $32.61 million ($1.05 a share) from $23.04 million (75 cents). Sales increased to $769.426 million from $661.596 million a year ago. Last year's figures were restated to reflect the two-for-one stock split last June.

Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp, reported doubled first-quarter profits and a 42 percent rise in sales over year-ago figures.

Net earnings rose to $31.6 million ($2.09 a share) against $15.4 million $1.02) on sales of $394.9 million compared with $276.8 million.

"Overall performance for the first quarter reflects a continuining strong demand," said William Boeschenstein president and chief executive officer.

Allied Chemical Corp. attributed its improved earnings of $29.9 million (1.06 a share) to sharply higher contributions of the company's international oil and gas operations and a strong performance by its fibers division. Those divisions offset the poor results of the chemical operations, the company said.

Last year's first quarter profits were $13.6 million (49 cents).Sales improved to $773.6 million from $681 million.

Chairman John Connor noted that last year's first quarter results included relatively little income from North Sea oil production, which was just getting underway, and also reflected the impact of severe winter weather on domestic operations.

Chemical New York Corp., par-of the Chemical Bank, reported operating quarter, up from $1.67 a year ago. But losses on securities transactions cut net income to $1.60 a share, down from $1.68 a year earlier.

Earnings actually rose to $25.5 million from $24.4 million, but there were more shares outstanding this year.

Chairman Donald Platten said net interest income and foreign exchange trading income improved, while foreign currency translation losses were slashed. Loan non-accruals and renegotiations amounting to $886 million as of March 31 cut first-quarter profits by $7 million.

Walt Disney Productions profits rose to $23.03 million (71 cents a share) in its second quarter ended March 31, up from $17.78 million (54 cents) a year earlier. Revenues climbed to $169.69 million from $140 miliion.

First-half earnings increased to $36.38 million ($1.12) on sales of $307.02 million compared with $29.61 million (91 cents) a year ago on sales of $259.52 million.

President Card Walker said that the amusement parks, the film division and the consumer products divisions all posted improved results. The amusement park division revenues exceeded combined revenues of the other divisions by $99.94 million, up from $84.25 million the previous year.

NCR Corp., a Dayton, Ohio-based manufacturer of business machines, said first-quarter net income rose to $22.9 million (85 cents a share) form $16.1 million (60 cents) a year earlier. Revenues climbed to $559.1 million from $515.3 million.

NCR said the increases were due to improvement in a number of international markets, as well as in the firm's domestic operations. The company reported it had lower interest costs because of a reduction last year of more than $100 million in long-term debt.

Chairman William Anderson said, "Barring adverse economic developments, which we do not anticipate, further improvement in earnings, revenue and bookings are expected as the year progresses."

Scott Paper Co. reported sharply lower profits of $20 million (53 cents a share) the first quarter, down from $52.19 million ($1.35) a year ago. However, operating profits rose from 39 cents a share a year earlier. The cumulative result of an accounting change produced 96 cents a share of the 1977 first-quarter profit.

Sales increased to $374.43 million from $340.32 million a year ago.

Chairman Charles Dickey Jr., said steadily improving results of the new Someset Pulp Mill in Maine were a prime cause of the operating gain.

McGraw-Hill Inc. posted a 57 percent advance in first-quarter profits to $10.52 million (43 cents a share) from last year when per-share earnings were 27 cents. Revenues jumped to $153.58 million, a 16 percent increase from $132.74 million last year.