DESCRIPTION: A distributor of natural gas throughout metropolitan Washington with subsidiaries serving the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia and West Virginia and in Frederick County, Md. Davenport Insulation Inc., another subsidiary, manufactures and installs insulation (NYSE, Phila.). 1979 PROFITS PER SHARE: $3.66 (includes $1.01 from a change in accounting methods; the change related to periods before Jan. 1, 1979 and resulted from the adoption of the recording of revenues applicable to gas delivered to customers but not yet billed.) DIVIDENDS: $2.40 a share (since increased to $2.52 a share annually.) FOUNDED: 1848. TOP EXECUTIVES: Paul E. Reichardt, chairman; Donald J. Heim, president.

The supply of natural gas improved in 1979. Meanwhile, the acceptance of gas in the marketplace for both new construction and conversions has aided WGL. Gas continues to enjoy a consumer price advantage in relation to the other energy sources. While the outlook is favorable for growth in sales, this growth will not ensure adequate earnings, the company says. Therefore, Washington Gas is actively working to hold down costs and is seeking higher rates, including $17.8 million in D.C. in the wake of a $7.1 million boost last year that WGL challenged in court as inadequate. Maryland rates rose $4 million a year in January, while Virginia rates rose $1.4 million in February. Among the largest categories of some $48 million in capital expenditures budgeted in 1980 are new business construction and replacement of portions of the existing natural gas distribution system.