M. S. Ginn & Co., Washington's biggest office supply firm, reported profits dropped by nearly 10 percent last year, despite a 25 percent increase in sales.

High profits were earned by several other area firms including Smith's Transfer of Staunton, American Furniture of Martinsville, Survival Technology of Bethesda, and VSE Corp. of Alexandria.

Ginn blamed the downturn in its earnings on inflation, the cost of relocating into new facilities and continued losses in its two-year-old mail order divisions.

The chain reported sales of $47.3 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, up from $38.7 million. Rofits fell to $932,000 ($1.28 per share) from $1.02 million ($1.42).

Survival Technology Inc. showed an 88 percent increase in earnings before extraordinary items -- $1.1 million compared with $586,000 -- and a 46 percent improvement in profits after tax credits resulting from previous losses -- $1.71 million (69 cents) compared with $1.17 million (47 cents).

Revenues for Survival Technology increased 19 percent to $12.6 million from $10.6 million. The company said the backlog of orders for its automatic antidote injectors for defense against chemical warfare increased from $1.4 million to $5.2 million.

Sales of commercial products increased by 42 percent and accounted for 40 percent of Survival Tech's business, said Stanley J. Sarnoff, chairman, and Brian H. Dovey, president.

American Furniture reported third quarter profits of $837,389, equivalent to 30 cents per share. A year ago American reported earnings from operations amounting to 21 cents per share and net earnings of 31 cents including the gain from the sale of a plant.

While the company reported sales of $17 million for the three months ended Sept. 1, R. M. Simmons, Jr., president and chairman, warned that "overall economic conditions are adversely affecting our incoming orders and our backlog going into the final quarter is somewhat smaller than it was last year."

Smith's Transfer, the big Virginia truck line, reported its net profit for the quarter ended Sept. 8 increased to $2.86 million ($1.13) from $2.77 million ($1.10) a year ago. Revenues climbed to $66.7 million from $58.1 million.

For the first 36 weeks of the year, Smith's earnings are running behind 1978, at $4.89 million ($1.94) compared with $5.91 million ($2.35). Revenues are up to $188 million from $169 million and the company said a strike by its drivers in the second quarter was the main reason for the decline in earnings.

VSE Corp. reported net income increased to $434,000 ($1.18) from $365,000 (83 cents) for the six months ended June 30, and revenues for the Alexandria engineering firm increased to $17.5 million from $11.4 million.

Microdyne Corp., which has facilities in Rockville and Cumberland and headquarters in Ocala, Fla., reported a 154 percent increase in profits for the nine months ended June 29.

Microdyne earned $1.43 million ($1.05) compared with $556,000 (48 cents), while sales increased to $9.1 million from just over $5 million. For the third quarter, Microdyne earned $509,000 (35 cents) up from $237,000 (20 cents) as sales increased to $2.9 million from $1.8 million.

Washington Gas Light Co. reported that for the 12 months ended Aug. 31 that its operating income, excluding changes in accounting methods, fell to $10.5 million from $14.3 million.

A change in accounting methods added $4.4 million to this year's operating income, producing a total of $14.9 million. If the accounting change were applied retroactively the company would show a decline in net income, Washington Gas reported.

Washington Gas said income applicable to common stock increased from $11.3 million ($2.72) to $12.1 million ($2.78).