Occidental Petroleum Corp. reported fourth-quarter earnings of $186.9 million yesterday ($2.44 a share), up 702 percent from year-earlier earnings of $23.3 million (20 cents).

Occidental's showing for the quarter helped push the company's 1979 profits up by 8,283 perent to $561.7 million ($7.30) compared with 1978 earnings of $6.7 million.

Sales in the quarter totaled $2.9 billion, compared with $1.8 billion in the comparable 1978 quarter. For the year, Occidental said its revenues totaled $9.6 billion compared with $6.3 billion in 1978.

Occidental noted that its 1978 earnings were unusually depressed by a variety of circumstances, such as $122 million in write-offs connected with closing a refinery in Belgium and halting construction of a refinery in Great Britain, and rail and coal strikes. Occidental reported 1977 earnings of $153.8 million.

Colgate-Palmolive Co. said that write-offs from discontinued operations slashed 1979 profit to $1.39 a share from $2.15 in 1978 in spite of a rise in sales to $4.49 bilion from $3.98 billion.

The write-downs in 1979 were $73.47 million in contrast with write-downs of $4.6 million in 1978. This slashed net income to $113.55 million compared with $175.57 million a year earlier.

Write-downs applicable to the fourth quarter were $55.47 million, and this produced a loss of $26.86 million for the quarter on sales of $1.16 billion in contrast with a profit a year earlier of $42.45 million (52 cents) on sales of $1.05 billion.

TRW Inc. reported earnings were up 2 percent in the final quarter and 12 percent in 1979, although demand for components for large cars declined.

The Cleveland-based company is a worldwide diversified manufacturer of high-technology products and services for automobile, electronics aerospace, industrial and energy markets.

In the fourth quarter, earnings were $50.3 million ($137) on sales of $1.2 billion, compared with earnings of $49.3 million ($1.33) on sales of $1 billion in the comparable 1978 period.

Results for 1979 included earnings of $194.6 million ($5.28) on sales of $4.6 billion, compared with earnings of $174.2 million ($4.73) on sales of $3.8 billion in 1978.

American Broadcasting Companies Inc., which operates in a variety of entertainment areas in addition to television, reported record profits for 1979, but executives said gains in 1980 may moderate because of heightened network competition and rising news costs.

ABC said earnings for the full year came to $159.31 million ($5.67), a 17 percent increase from $135.57 million ($4.89) in 1978.

Earnings for the fourth quarter were up 11 percent to $44.94 million from those on continuing operations a year earlier.

Revenues for the full year came to $2.05 billion in 1979 against $1.78 billion in 1978.

For the fourth quarter, earnings totaled $44.94 million ($1.59). Earnings on continuing operations came to $40.48 million ($1.45) for the same period the previous year, excluding the one-time gain from the theater division sale and losses of $547,000 from discontinued operations.

Revenues from continuing operations were $631.52 million in the latest quarter, compared with $523.9 million a year earlier.

Surging sales by its 7-Eleven convenience food stores enabled Southland Corp. to earn $3.84 a share last year, up from $2.75 in 1978. Sales soared to $3.876 billion from $3.09 billion.

There were 900,000 more shares outstanding on the average in 1979.

Net income was $83.14 million, up from $57.1 million. The 1979 earnings including $15.66 million as the result of an accounting change.

Final quarter profit was $13.47 million (57 cents) on sales of $1.045 billion compared with $12.68 (61 cents) a year earlier on sales of $815.42 million.

The Sherwin-Williams Co., the world's largest paint producer, said that earnings increased substantially in the fourth quarter and year ended last Dec. 31.

For the fourth quarter, earnings totaled $2.9 million (52 cents) on sales of $280.7 million. The economy lost $6.6 million ($1.28) in the same period the previous year. Sales were $273.1 million in the last three months of 1978.

Sherwin-Williams earned $18 million ($3.21) last year on sales of $1.2 billion. The company reported earnings of $5.2 million (76 cents) in 1978. Sales totaled $1.1 billion in 1978.