RCA Corp.'s first-quarter earnings advanced 44 percent to $60.5 million (57 cents a share) from $42 million (33 cents) a year earlier, eclipsing the $54 million RCA earned in all of 1981 when it was heavily involved in startup costs of its home TV disc player.

Meanwhile, first-quarter earnings of Kroger Co., the nation's second-largest grocery store chain, rose 24 percent over last year. But three other major companies reported lower first-quarter earnings: TRW, off about 25 percent; Allied Corp., off 25 percent; and Texas Instruments Inc., off 19 percent.

RCA said first-quarter revenue was $1.96 billion, up 2 percent from $1.94 the year before. The earnings performance reflected a $29.1 million gain from the sale of a number of businesses.

RCA said its broadcasting operations increased sales slightly and were "marginally profitable" despite low audience ratings and increased programming costs.

Kroger Co. officials said a lower tax rate reflecting higher investment tax credits and a gain from retirement of company debt accounted for much of its earnings increase to $20.3 million (69 cents a share) from $16.3 million (59 cents) on an 8 percent gain in sales to $2.68 billion from $2.5 billion.

Kroger Chairman Lyle Everingham also said the sales growth of lower-priced Kroger-manufactured products was well above the overall percentage sales increase. "The economy is causing many consumers to trade down,and the choices that Kroger provides in its private-label products at several levels assist shoppers in balancing the budget," he said.

TRW Inc., a diversified manufacturer of high-technology products, reported its first-quarter earnings were $44.1 million ($1.18 a share) on sales of $1.33 billion compared with year-ago earnings of $55 million ($1.47) on sales of $1.36 billion.

"First-quarter demand proved to be very weak in domestic markets," said Ruben F. Mettler, TRW chairman and chief executive. "The recession's full impact was finally felt in several of our product lines in each of our three business segments."

One major factor in the earnings reduction was the devaluation of the Mexican peso and other foreign currencies, which reduced first-quarter earnings by about $7.6 million, or about $3 million more than currency exchange losses in last year's first period, the company said.

In the electronics and space systems segment, sales in the first quarter bucked the downward trend and rose 1 percent, but earnings declined, TRW said. The company said earnings fell more significantly in its industrial and energy segment and its car and truck segment.

Allied Corp. cited lower prices for crude oil and the recession in reporting that first-quarter net income fell to $63 million ($1.38 a share) from $84 million ($2.33) while sales rose 2 percent to $1.61 billion from $1.58 billion.

Allied makes a broad range of products, mainly in the chemical and energy areas.

Texas Instruments Inc. said a continuing slump in the semiconductor market pushed its first-quarter profit down and will prompt further layoffs in the second quarter.

Earnings were $27.2 million ($1.17 a share), down from $34.2 million ($1.47) a year ago, while sales were up 1 1/2 percent to $1.078 billion from $1.063 billion.

The company laid off 2,700 workers earlier this year. Spokesmen could not be contacted for comment on details of the planned reduction.