Merrill Lynch and Co. yesterday reported its worst quarterly profits since it went public in 1971.

The nation's largest U.S. stock brokerage firm attributed the poor showing to a weak stock market in the first two months of the year.

The company's first-quarter profits fell to $247,000 (one cent a share) from $8.5 million (24 cents) in the comparable period a year earlier. Revenues climbed to $281.8 million from $238.4 million in the like 1977 period.

Polariod Corp. had record profits and sales during the first quarter. The instant-camera company noted that its earnings of $14.48 million (44 cents a share) were only slightly higher than the $14.04 million (43 cents) earned during the 1976 first quarter, although sales rose 25 percent from $191.8 million to $240.7 million.

A six-day shutdown of domestic operations caused by severe snowfalls in the Northeast during February cut earnings, Polaroid President William McCune Jr. said.

Republic Steel Corp. reported earnings of nearly $9.8 million (60 cents a share) for the first quarter, but said it was penalized severly by the lengthy coal strike and harsh winter weather.

The quarter's results compared with a loss of $6.15 million in the same period a year ago, when severe weather and natural gas shortages curbed business.

Republic, thenation's fourth largest steel maker, said first-quarter shipments were 1.8 million tons, up 20.2 percent from the same period of 1977. Sales in the first quarter totaled $831.2 million up 28.2 percent from $658.5 million in sales in the first three months of last year.

Trans World Airlines Inc. said that it again had a loss in the first quarter, but that the deficit was smaller than a year before.

TWA said that for the quarter, during which it historically records a seasonal loss, there was a deficit of $38.7 million, compared with a $50.7 million loss a year ago.

Revenues rose to $756.46 million from $682.15 million a year ago.

General Telephone & Electronics Corp. reported that consoldiated ne income for the first quarter rose 22 percent to $152.32 million ( $1.12 a share from $133.84 million (95 cents) in the year-ago period. Revenueswere up 13 percent to $1.99 billion from $1.76 billion in the opening quarter last year.

Theodore Brophy, chairman and chief executive, attributed the gain to "both strong growth in revenues and net income from telephone operations, and continued improvement in the operating results of our products group."

Honeywell Inc., a manufacturer of computer equipment, had sizable increases in revenues and earnings in the first quarter.

Earnings were $35.4 million ($1.66 a share) against $30.9 million ($1.47) a yearearlier. Revenues rose to $788.8 million from $662.8 million in the 1977 period.

Uniroyal Inc. had a loss of $2.7 million in the first quarter ended April 2 in contrast with a profit of $13.3 million (46 cents a share) a year ago as sales dropped to $631 million from $651 million.

President Joseph Flannery said lower automobile sales, which cut tire shipments drastically, and the coal strike, which affected Uniroyal's other business, were to blame. The company also lost $1 million on foreign exchange translations.

The first-quarter sales and earnings in 1977 were inflated by big demand following the rubber workers strike late in 1976, and Uniroyal also had a capital gain of 8 cents a share in that quarter.