Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. had a turnabout in the third quarter and earned $1.5 million (6 cents a share) in contrast with a restated loss of $6 million a year earlier.

But for nine months, A&P lost $15.29 million against a restated loss of $326,000 a year earlier. Sales were $1.883 billion for the third quarter against $1.811 billion a year ago, and $5.562 billion for the nine months against $5.418 billion a year ago. The nine months ended Nov. 25.

The third-quarter profit was racked up in spite of a $2.64 million reserve for estimated losses on the closing of certain stores and other facilities and a $1.42 million charge for capitalization of leases. A year ago, A&-P had a $2.4 million tax credit in the third quarter.

Chairman Jonathan L. Scott said the third-quarter. turnaround marked a $6.9 million improvement over the second quarter of the current year and was in line with his prediction to shareholders in June.

He said better cash management enabled A&P to build up its holiday merchandise inventories this year without resorting to short-term borrowings or using any significant part of its $60 million bank credit line.

The number of A&P stores dropped to 1,801 from 1.922 a year earlier.

Pillsbury Co. the parent of the Burger King fast-food restaurant chain, said its second-quarter profit rose to $26.9 million ($1.53 a share) from $24.4 million ($1.39) a year ago.

Profits for the six months increased to $45 million ($2.63) from $4.15 million ($2.63), the company said.

Pillsbury's foruth-quarter sales were $523.9 million, and six-month sales increased to $986.4 million from $825.4 million.

The company said Burger king's domestic system in the sefond quarter which ended Nov. 30 had a 12 percent increase in average sales per unit from the year-ago level, while Poppin Fresh Pie Shops, another subsidiary, had a 17 percent increase.

However, the company's Steak and Ale unit, reported lower profit margine despite a 9 percent gain in average sales per restaurant.