Despite the slowing real estate market, the Federal National Mortgage Association yesterday reported sharply higher profits for both the third quarter and nine-month period ended Sept. 30.

For Beltsville-based John Hanson Savings Bank, however, earnings fell 79 percent in the fiscal first quarter ended Sept. 30.

For the quarter, Fannie Mae, as the congressionally chartered corporation is known, recorded earnings of $299.5 million, or $1.15 per share, up 41 percent from $211.9 million, or 80 cents a share, for the same period last year.

For the first nine months of 1990, Fannie Mae profits totaled $865.7 million, or $3.31 a share, an increase of 52 percent from $570.1 million, or $2.17 a share for the same period in 1989.

Fannie Mae officials attributed the gains to improvements in net interest income and fees, and to a decline in foreclosures. "Fannie Mae's 11th consecutive quarter of record earnings reflects the strength and stability of the company," said a statement by Chairman David O. Maxwell.

The company, which buys residential mortgages to provide additional capital for housing lenders, either holds these loans in its portfolio or packages them into securities, which it sells to investors.

Though the real estate market continued to slip during the third quarter, Fannie Mae bought $6.6 billion in mortgages. That was down only modestly from the $7 billion it bought in the 1989 third quarter, and fees earned from the company's mortgage-backed securities business climbed to $138.4 million from $103.6 million the year before.

Timothy Howard, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said that "at a time when other lenders are not in a position to provide a high level of support to the mortgage market, we were able to step in and take up some of the slack."

He said Fannie Mae's business "has been holding up as well as it has {because} for the past several years we have been deliberately following a policy of attempting to insulate our business as best we can" from shifts in interest rates and the housing market.

Fannie Mae also bought back 2.2 million shares of its common stock during the quarter.

John Hanson Savings Bank FSB, a thrift that is the 28th-largest financial institution in the area, said its 79 percent decline in fiscal first-quarter earnings masked what it called "substantial improvements in John Hanson's normal operating activities over the past year."

The drop in earnings primarily reflected a $2.7 million gain it made a year ago from selling about $95 million in residential loans and securities, John Hanson said.

The savings bank earned $448,000 (8 cents a share) in the first quarter, compared with $2.1 million (37 cents) a year ago. Its assets fell to $874.6 million as of Sept. 30 from $904.1 million at the same point in 1989.

John Hanson said it is still trying to comply with the capital requirements established by legislation aimed at rescuing the nation's savings and loans. Its tangible capital was 1.53 percent of total assets, compared with the required 1.5 percent.

Its core capital totaled 2.31 percent of total assets, while the law requires that level to be 3 percent.

Laurel Bancorp. Inc., the holding company for Laurel Federal Savings Bank, said its earnings rose 73 percent in the fiscal third quarter ended Aug. 31 and fell almost 6 percent in the first nine months.

The jump in third-quarter earnings came primarily from the $5.5 million that the bank raised from the sale of stock when it went public in June. It also reduced borrowing expenses.

The bank earned $203,631 in the third quarter, compared with $117,352 in the 1989 third quarter. Earnings fell to $434,629 in the first nine months of 1990 from $461,585 in the same period of 1989.

Assets stood at $101.7 million as of Aug. 31, up 5 percent from year-ago assets of $96.7 million.

Century Bancshares Inc., corporate parent of the District's Century National Bank, said its loss widened in the first nine months because of an addition to its reserve that protects against loan losses.

In the third quarter, Century earned $35,368 (2 cents), compared with a $57,056 loss in the year-ago third quarter. The bank lost $264,657 in the first nine months, compared with a $236,206 loss in the same period a year ago.

The bank had $91 million in assets as of Sept. 30, down 6 percent from the level of a year ago.