The Federal National Mortgage Association earned $712.1 million, or 65 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, up from $408.3 million, or 37 cents a share, in the period a year earlier.

The year-to-year comparisons were distorted by a $350 million pretax special contribution to its foundation in the fourth quarter of 1995. Excluding that, earnings added up to $635.8 million, or 58 cents a share, in the 1995 quarter.

The 12% increase, excluding the contribution, reflects a 10% growth in Fannie Mae's net interest income on mortgages and other investments, and a similar gain on fees earned for guaranteeing principal and interest payments on its mortgage-backed securities.

Fannie Mae earned net interest income of $923.1 million in the fourth quarter, up 9.8%. Guaranty fees were $308.9 million, a gain of 10.4%.

Fannie Mae also said last year's earnings set a record at $2.7 billion, up 15.3% excluding the 1995 contribution.

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