Profits slumped at General Telephone & Electronics Corp. in the first quarter because of a loss related to Canadian foreign exchange rates.

The nation's second-largest utility corporation said yesterday that earnings were $150 million ( $1 a share) in the January-March period compared with $156 million ($1.08) a year earlier despite an increase in revenues to $2.25 billion from $1.99 billion.

GTE noted that the recent quarter included a loss equal to 4 cents a share from translating financial statements of Canadian subsidiaries into U.S. dollars compared with a gain of 10 cents a share in the 1978 period.

Chairman Theodore Brophy said that, while the Canadian exchange rate strengthened in the first quarter, "thus increasing the value of GTE's Canadian assets and Canadian earnings in terms of U.S. dollars," application of accounting standards required translation losses.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. the first major oil company to report its first-quarter results, earned $1.11 a share against 36 cents a year ago.

Net income was $87.9 million on sales of $1.84 billion compared with $32.1 million a year ago on sales of $1.24 billion, the company said Monday. The 1978 results are restated to reflect an accounting change.

Oil and gas earnings produced the biggest gains but the Hooker Chemical Division's profit increased to $17.7 million from $7.2 million a year earlier. The best gains were made on operations in Peru and Libya, and the licensing of oil shale technology to two other companies produced a significant contribution to profit.

Republic Steel Corp. reported first-quarter net income of $41.8 million ($2.58 a share) compared with $9.8 million (or 60 cents) for the first quarter of 1978, when steel operations were hurt by a coal strike and other adverse factors.

W. J. De.Lancey, chairman and chief executive officer, said the 1979 results continued the "high level of business that characterized the fourth quarter of 1978 and much of the second half of last year."

First-quarter sales totaled $1 billion compared with $31 million for the corresponding 1978 quarter.

In addition to the coal strike, Republic's operations in the 1978 first period were hurt by heavy snows, cold weather and curtailment of electric power, the chairman said.

Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., parent of the nation's largest stockbroker, and third-ranked E.F. Hutton Group Inc. reported sharply higher first-quarter earnings.

Merrill Lynch, owner of broker Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, said first-quarter earnings totaled $19.7 million (54 cents a share) against $247,000 (1 cent) in the first quarter of 1978. Revenues rose to $438.1 million from $281.8 million a year earlier.

Hutton recorded profits of $5 million (76 cents a share) on first-quarter revenues of $140.8 million. In the first quarter of 1978, Hutton's earnings came to a $2.1 million (31 cents) and revenues were $95.8 million.

The higher brokerage house earnings reflected a 32 percent gain in stock trading volume between the first quarter of 1978 and the first three months of this year . The low volume led to "very, very poor" profits before trading activity began to gain in the second quarter, said analyst Richard Bogacki of Standard & Poor's Corp.

Phillip Morris Inc., a cigarette brewing and soft drink firm, reported that earnings rose 25.6 percent in the first quarter of 1979 to a record $109.9 million on a 36.8 percent increase in revenues to $1.9 billion.

Earnings in the comparable period of 1978 were $87.5 million, while revenues were $1.4 billion.

Per-share earnings rose 21.2 percent to $1.77 from $1.46 in the first quarter a year ago, with the 1979 figure reflecting 2 million shares of common stock issued in July 1978.

George Weissman, chairman and chief executive, said the results "were attributable to growth in our U.S. and international cigarette operations as well as Miller Brewing Co." Operating revenues for Seven-Up Co., which was consolidated into Philip Morris on June 1, 1978, were not included in the 1978 results.

Honeywell Inc. earned $2.75 a share in the first quarter, up from $1.66 a year ago.

Earnings in both quarters included 8 cents from tax credits. The 1979 earnings were reduced 22 cents a share by losses on foreign currency translations, and those of a year ago were cut 12 percents by such losses.

Net income was $59.6 million on revenues of $966.8 million compared with $354.4 million a year earlier on revenues of $788.8 million.

PPG Industries reported first-quarter net income of $49.8 million, an increase of 40 percent over earnings of $35.6 million during the same period last year.

Per-share earnings were $1.56 for the 1979 first qurater and $1.14 in 1978.

Sales for the period were $722.3 million, up 11.5 percent from $648 million a year earlier.

Boise Cascade Corp., a paper and lumber combine, earned $1.27 a share in the first quarter, up from $1.11 a year ago, as sales grew to $635 million from $586.31 million.

Net income rose to $34.48 million from $29.94 million.

Goodrich Co. reported record sales and earnings for the first quarter.

Goodrich said net income was $26.4 million ($1.57 a share) on sales of $716.8 million. Earnings were up 68 percent from the $15.7 million ($1.04) earned on sales of $593.3 million for the first quarter of 1978.

Uniroyal plans to sell its European tire business to Continental Gummi Werke Ag, West Germany's largest tire producer, for undisclosed terms, the company said yesterday.

Separately, Uniroyal reported at its annual meeting that it made a profit of $6 million (18 cents a share) in the first quarter compared with a loss of $2.7 million a year earlier as sales increased to $712 million from $631.7 million.

Northrop Corp. first-quarter profits rose 21 percent to $23.5 million ($1.66 a share) from $10.4 million ($1.38) a year earlier, benefitting from lower tax rates and higher profit margin, although sales of the diversified aerospace firm fell 6 percent to $407 million.

SCM corp. earned 95 cents a share in its third quarter ended March 31 against 55 cents a year ago. Nine-month profits rose to $3.27 a share from $2.40 a year ago.

Net income for the quarter was $9.22 million on sales of $441.64 million against $5.1 million a year earlier on sales of $365.79 million. For nine months, net income was $30.93 million on sales of $1.286 billion compared with $22.37 million a year earlier on sales of $1.091 billion.