DESCRIPTION: Washington,s largest local general merchandise retailer, Woodward & Lothrop ranks second to Sears, Roebuck & co. in nonfood sales in the area with its 14 department stores and 2 warehouse sales centers (OTC). PROFITS PER SHARE (FISCAL YEAR ENDED FEB. 2, 1980): $4.10. Dividends: $4.12 million ($1.70 a share). FOUNDED: 1880. TOP EXECUTIVES: Edwin K. Hoffman, chairman; Robert Mulligan, vice chairman; David Mullen, president.

Woodward & Lothrop entered its second century earlier this year with a series of gala celebrations aimed primarily at its suppliers and business associates over the years. Sales last year were at record levels, but profits were depressed because volume did not keep pace with inflation and because of LIFO adjustment of inventories, which cut earnings by 62 cents a share in the recent year compared with 16 cents the previous year. Wilth inventories under tight control, Woodies managers expect they will be able to react swiftly to a decline in sales caused by recession and/or credit controls. Meantime, Woodies is expanding broadly into the Baltimore market. One store is set to open this summer at White March and another will follow in 1984 at Painters Mill, a new Rouse Co. mall. Another store opens this summer at Fair Oaks mall in Fairfax.