Weirton Steel Corp., the nation's largest employe-owned company, yesterday posted 1985 profits of $61 million, slightly surpassing its performance of a year earlier.

Among other companies reporting earnings yesterday were McDonnell Douglas Corp., Travelers Corp. and Nestle S.A.

Weirton Steel President Robert Loughhead said the firm, which is based in Weirton, W.Va., had sales of $1.2 billion and shipped 2.4 million tons during the year.

The 1985 results compared with 1984's earnings of $60.6 million on sales of $1.1 billion and shipments of 2.1 million tons.

Fourth-quarter 1985 earnings were $12.5 million on sales of $267 million. Shipments were 550,000 tons. In 1984, fourth-quarter earnings were $12.4 million on sales of $230 million and shipments of 439,000 tons.

"Our second year as an employe-owned company was most gratifying," Loughhead said. "We met with reasonably good success in such critical areas as cost reduction and expansion of our customer base. Our balance sheet continues to improve and our market penetration is strengthening."

But the steel executive complained about foreign competition.

"We expected price weakness and little change in deplorable import levels during 1985 and, sad to say, we weren't disappointed," Loughhead said. "We were able to offset those problems to some degree because of excellent cooperation by our people.

"However, it was dismaying to see so much of the market still claimed by imported steel. If the president's program of import restraints is to work, we must begin to see evidence of it very soon. And the arrangements must be enforced."

Since becoming employe-owned on Jan. 11, 1984, the company has achieved eight consecutive profitable quarters.

"It is a record our employe-owners can be proud of," Loughhead said. McDonnell Douglas Corp. yesterday reported earnings of $94.8 million ($2.36 a share) in the fourth quarter of 1985 compared with $91.7 million ($2.28) in the same quarter last year.

Sales for the fourth quarter of 1985 were $3.1 billion compared with $2.6 billion in the same period last year.

Earnings for 1985 as a whole were $345.7 million ($8.60) on sales of $11.5 billion compared with 1984 earnings of $325.3 million ($8.10) on sales of $9.663 billion.

"There were two primary reasons why 1985's earnings growth did not keep pace with sales growth," the company said. "The first was a loss of $109.3 million in the corporation's information systems line of business compared with a $45.3 million loss in that line in 1984.

"In both years, the losses included substantial charges -- $65.1 million in 1985, $48.7 million in 1984 -- for amortization of costs connected with acquisitions."

The giant aerospace firm blamed the informations systems loss on "a broad slowdown throughout the U.S. computer and computer-related industries."

"The second reason for overall corporate earnings growth failing to keep pace with sales was the fact that interest expense, which amounted to $61.9 million in 1984, rose to $95.1 million in 1985 as a result of increased borrowing."

The corporation's three aerospace lines of business -- combat aircraft, transport aircraft, and space systems and missiles -- had 1985 revenue that was 18 percent higher than 1984's and earnings that were 22 percent higher. Travelers Corp. yesterday reported that preliminary 1985 operating earnings rose 4 percent to $359.8 million, despite sharp losses in its property-casualty business due to hurricanes and other disasters.

The 1985 earnings were higher than the $346.1 million figure for 1984. Operating earnings for the fourth quarter last year were $122.1 million compared with $120.7 million for the final quarter of 1984.

With more shares outstanding at the end of 1985, earnings per share for the year were $4 compared with $4.11 in 1984; and earnings for the fourth quarter of 1985 were $1.32 compared with $1.43.

"We had strong performance in our employe benefits, individual life and annuity, asset management and investment areas," said Edward H. Budd, Travelers chairman and chief executive officer.

"Our property-casualty business had severe operating losses as a result of continuing adverse trends in liability claims and unusually large losses from hurricanes and other natural catastrophes," he said.

Earnings also were depressed by the recent highly competitive pricing cycle in the property-casualty business, Budd said, but the company expected better results this year.

Travelers has made "major modifications" in liability coverage to control the level of litigation and spiraling settlement costs and jury awards, Budd said.

The prospect of a "costly and unpredictable civil justice system is creating hardship for our customers and hurting the competitive position of our nation," he said.

"Reform of the civil justice system is clearly needed and is one of The Travelers highest priorities," he added.

Total revenue for 1985 rose 8.3 percent to $14.6 billion from $13.5 billion for 1984.

Travelers' premiums for last year rose 6 percent to $10.9 billion from $10.3 billion for 1984; investment income increased 16.7 percent to $3.7 billion from $3.1 billion in the previous year.

For the fourth quarter of 1985, total revenue was $3.4 billion, up slightly from $3.3 billion for the same period the previous year.

Premiums were $2.4 billion for the final quarter of 1985 compared with $2.5 billion for the fourth quarter of 1984; investment income rose to $991.3 million for the quarter from $811 million the year before.

Shareholders' equity was $4 billion ($41.36) at the end of 1985. Assets increased 14.3 percent to $41.6 billion. Nestle S.A., Switzerland's biggest company at nearly twice the size of its nearest competitor, yesterday reported a 35 percent increase in sales in 1985 to a record $20 billion.

It said it also expects a sizable increase in net income, which will be announced at a later date.

Last year's Nestle sales are about twice the size of the Swiss federal budget.

Nestle said the January 1985 acquisition of Carnation Co., which is based in Los Angeles, was the main reason for the increase.