International Paper Co. yesterday reported a sharp drop in its first-quarter profits, and Marine Midland Banks Inc. posted a 5.4 percent gain.

New York-based International Paper's first-quarter profits tumbled to $60 million ($1.08 a share) from $147.4 million ($2.85) a year ago.

First-quarter earnings this year included 35 cents a share from the sale of tax benefits, while those in 1981 were swollen by a $1.66-a-share gain on sales of real estate. Subtracting these extraordinary items, net earnings for the quarter were 63 cents a share for the quarter against $1.19 a year earlier.

Sales fell to $1.003 billion in the latest period from $1.305 billion in the 1981 quarter.

Chairman Edwin D. Dodd said divestiture of several domestic business units accelerated the decline.

Marine Midland of New York, which is the nation's 15th largest commercial banking company, said earnings before securities transactions were $21.61 million ($1.13 a share) in the first quarter of 1982 compared with $20.51 million ($1.07) in the comparable period last year.

Chairman Edward W. Duffy said net interest income, after provision for loan losses, rose 21 percent to $144.4 million, while operating expenses, mostly planned investments in new product and service development, rose 17 percent in the same period.