The Ryland Group Inc., a Columbia-based home builder, turned in a profitable performance last year despite a 10 percent drop in sales and a recession-wracked regional housing market.

The company reported 1982 net earnings of nearly $4.2 million ($1.40 per share), up from $3 million (99 cents) in 1981--a 41 percent increase in earnings per share.

Nearly $1.3 million of Ryland's earnings came from gains in its mortgage sales and servicing operation, said Chairman C. E. Peck. "Ryland Mortgage Co. was a key to our 1982 earnings performance," Peck said.

Ryland had nearly $206.5 million in settlements on 2,772 units last year, a 10 percent drop from 1981 sales levels. Total new sales contracts for 1982 were 3,820--valued at $282 million--55 percent increase over the number of contracts held the year earlier. Outstanding contracts, those awaiting settlement, were put at 1,745 for the calendar year ending 1982, a 150 percent increase over the number of outstanding contracts in 1981.

Other area companies reporting include Citizens Bancorp, the holding company which operates Citizens Bank and Trust Co. of Maryland (Riverdale); and Universal Security Instruments, Inc., of Owings Mills.

Citizens Bancorp showed a 15 percent increase in profits for calendar-year 1982, posting net income of $15.9 million ($8.90), compared with $13.8 million ($7.72) in 1981.

Total deposits for the bank holding company increased 9 percent in 1982, to $680.9 million from $625.9 million. Total gross operating income for the year was nearly $94.6 million, an 11 percent increase over the $85.3 million operating income for 1981.

Citizens Bancorp had what it called "record high" assets of $805.5 million for 1982, a 10 percent increase over the $735.5 million in holdings a year earlier.

Universal Security Instruments reported a net loss of $276,265 (12 cents) for its third-quarter period ending Dec. 31, 1982, despite a 9 percent increase in sales, to $4.1 million from $3.8 million in sales in the year-ago period.

The $276,265 was a pretax loss that had no offsetting tax benefits. Universal reported a pretax loss of $444,272 in its third quarter of 1981. But the 1981 loss partially was offset by tax benefits that reduced the company's net loss to $252,124 (10 cents) in the year-ago period.

Universal's sales for the nine months ended Dec. 31 were $12.6 million, compared with sales of $13.6 million for the year-ago period. The company reported a net loss of $1.7 million (72 cents) for the nine months, compared with a net gain of $285,264 (12 cents) in the same period for 1981.