First-quarter profits of General Telephone & Electronics Corp. soared to 99 cents a share from 38 cents a year earlier. The 1980 profit was depressed by a loss on the company's withdrawal from the consumer electronics business.

Merrill Lynch & Co., the nation's largest securities company, meanwhile reported a 31 percent increase in first-quarter profits, and International Paper Co. had a 66 percent rise in its first-quarter income.

GTE's net income for the quarter was $162.42 million on revenues of $2.567 billion compared with $65.06 million a year earlier on revenues of $2.374 billion.

On continuing operations, first-quarter profits were up 14 percent from a year ago, and per-share earnings were up 9 percent. The continuing operations comparison also excludes the impact of translation of Canadian division results into U.S. dollars.

Chairman Theodore F. Brophy said telephone revenues gained 13 percent and telephone operating income rose 26 percent.

The number of telephone subscribers rose 3.2 percent, but sales of electrical products slipped to $455.14 million from $467.74 million a year earlier.

Merrill Lynch said its first-quarter earnings rose 31 percent ot $45.2 million ($1.17 a share) from $34.5 million (95 cents) in the same peiod last year. Revenues rose to $891.3 million from $694.3 million a year ago.

Merrill Lynch noted that it now has 3.5 million more shares outstanding than during the 1980 quarter, a result of last November's sale of $100 million in convertible subordinated debentures. Accounting procedures require that primary earnings per share include shares outstanding as well as thoses that may be issued if all the debentures are converted.

Roger E. Birk, who replaced Donald Regan as chairman and chief executive when Regan became secretary of the Treasury in January, said the improved performance was influenced by the recent turbulence in financial markets.

International Paper Co. said yesterday it earned $2.85 a share in the first quarter, up from $1.80 a year ago, as revenues rose to $1.30 billion from $1.237 billion. Net income climbed to $147.4 million from $89 million.

The earnings for both the 1981 and 1980 first quarters included large profits in land sales in addition to operating income. The gain on land sales was $1.32 a share in this year's quarter and 22 cents a share in 1980. Capitalization of interest increased earnings 12 cents a share in this year's quarter and 5 cents a year ago.

Allis-Chalmers Corp., the industrial, farm equipment and power concern, said first-quarter net income fell to $1.3 million (5 cents a share) from $7.1 million (51 cents) a year earlier.

First-quarter sales rose to $525.1 million from $473.8 million a year ago.

David C. Scott, chairman and chief executive, said "the adverse operating and financial environment Allis-Chalmers experienced in 1980 continued, and in some areas unexpectedly intensified, through the first quarter of 1981." a