General Motors Corp., the world's biggest automaker, reported record second-quater earnings yesterday of $1.19 billion ($4.13 a share).

That was 7.4 percent above the previous second-quater record of $1.11 billion ($3.86) set in 1978.

Sales were $19 billion, a record for any quater and 11 percent above the $17 billion of the comparable 1978 quater.

Sales of cars, trucks and buses around the world totalled 2.67 million, another quarterly record and 3/4 percent above the 2.65 million sold in the same quater last year.

Although they were a record, the second-quater profits were below extimates by some Wall Street analysts of about $4.50 a share. GM" was the third of the four U.S. owned auto companies to report second-quarter results. On Tuesday, Ford Motor Co., said its profits fell 5.2 percent to $512 million, a smaller decrease than analysts had expected. Earlier, American Motors Corp. Reported a quintupling of profits to $15 million for the third quarter of its fiscal year.

For the first half, GM earned a record $2.44 billion ($8.52), 24 percent above the $1.97 billion ($6.89) earned in the first six months of 1978. First-half sales were record $36.9 billion, 16 percent ahead of the $31.9 billion recorded in the first six months of 1978.

Chairman Thomas A. Murphy and President Elliott M. Estes said in the earnings announcement that improve results over the first half were "more than accounted for by higher car and truck volume and improved effect of price adjustments, cost-control programs and other operating effecencies."

But the profit margin on sales was 6.3 percent in the quater, down from 7 percent in the first quarter and 6.5 percent in the second quarter last year, they said.Also, first-half profits would have been $1.52 billion ($5.30) in the 1973 dollars, 6 percent below the 1973 earnings of $1.61 billion ($5.62).

Bethlehem Steel Corp., the nation's second biggest steel producer, posted an 88 percent increase in profits for the first half of the year on a 19 percent gain in sales.

Profits rose 21.5 percent in the second quarter while sales increased by 14.8 percent.

At the same time, the company raised its quaterly dividend by five cents a share to 40 cents, payable Sept. 10 to shareholders of record Aug. 10.

Profits for the first half totaled $162.3 million ($3.72 a share), up from $89.9 million ($1.97) in the first half of 1978. Sales for the period climbed to $3.6 billion $3 billion.

Second-quarter profits amounted $103.1 million ($2.36), up from $84.8 million ($1.95) in the comparable period a year earlier. Sales rose to $1.8 billion from $1.6 billion.

Bethlehem's shipments of steel products in the first half of the year totaled 7.12 million short tons compared with 6.56 million tons a year ago. Second-quarter shipments rose to 3.55 million tons from 3.47 million tons.

The 58-day strike against United Airlines last spring resulted in a consolidated net loss of $47.358 million ($1.61 a share) to its holding company, UAL Inc., during the second quarter, a company spokesman said yesterday.

Last year, the company reported net earnings of $97.9 million ($3.93) for the same period.

UAL, a holding company whose principal subsidiaries are the airline, Western International Hotels and GAB Business 1services, also reported a consolidated net loss of $44.3 million ($1.54) for the first half of the year compared with a $115.1 million ( $4..61) profit a year earlier. Revenues fell to $1.44 billion from $1.85 billion.

The airline loss from operations for the second quater was$171 million compared with airline earnings from operations of $80 million in the same quarter of 1978, said Richard J. Ferris, president and chief executive officer of UAL Inc.

LTV Inc. said its profits for the second quater grew 12.6 percent, aided by continued growth in its steel, energy-products and aerospace divisions.

Net income was $40.3 million ($1.40 a share) on sales of $2.03 billion. For the same period a year ago, the firm earned $35.8 million ($2.40) on sales of $1.33 billion.

The drop in earnings per share reflect additional shares issued last year for the acquisition of Lykes Corp. The second-quarter figures for 1978 do not include the performance of Lykes, which LTV did not aquire until last December.

For the first half, LTV earned $80.8 million ($2.81) on sales of $4.01 million compared with net income of $27 million ($1.76) on sales of $2.57 billion in the year-earlier period.

Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. reported lower earnings for both the second quarter and first half dispite record sales.

Net income for the second quarter fell 30.3 percent to $50.4 million (69 cents a share) on record sales $2.13 billion from $72.3 million ( a record $1 a share). The record in sales represented a 12.1 percent increase over 1978 sales of $1.90 billion.

Earnings for the first half of 1979 were $101.7 million ($1.40) compared with $109.0 million ($1.51) in the previous period. Sales rose form $3.56 billion to a record ($4.14) billion.

Eastman Kodak Co. reported record sales and earnings for the second quarter and first half of 1979, but officials were catious about the outlook for the remainder of the year.

The Rochester-based photographic firm said consolidated worldwide sales for the second quarter were $1.8 billion, a 15 percent increase from the $1.57 billion reported a year ago.

Net earnings for the quater increased 16 percent to $222.7 million ($1.38 a share) from $191.8 million ($1.19) for the second quarter of 1978.

Reporting gains in its coffee and packaged convenience foods businesses, General Foods Corp. said profits rose 21 percent to $1.38 a share in the first quarter of its 1980 fiscal year from $1.14 a share a year earlier. CAPTION: Chart, Big Oil Profits; By Alice Kresse -The Washington Post