After-tax profits of large U.S. retail corporations averaged 1 cent per dollar of sales in the second quarter of the year, up 0.9 cents from the preceding quarter, the Commerce Department reports.

But profits were down 0.4 cents from the second quarter of 1989, according to a report compiled by the department's census bureau.The preliminary second quarter figures are based on quarterly financial reports from 724 retail corporations across the United States and are not adjusted for seasonal factors.

The Commerce Department also said in the second quarter of 1990 retailers with assets of $50 million and over reported after-tax profits of $1.5 billion, up $1.3 billion from the preceding quarter.

But profits were down $600 million from the second quarter of last year, the department said.

"Second quarter 1990 sales were $153.9 billion, up $8.5 billion or 5.9 percent from last quarter," the report said. "Second quarter sales on a year-to-year basis were up $12.7 billion or 9 percent."

The government also said the annual rate of after-tax return on stockholders' equity was 7.1 percent in the second quarter vs. 0.8 percent in the first quarter and 9.5 percent in the second quarter of 1989.