CSX Corp. DESCRIPTION: The company says it isthe nation's largest in transportation and natural resources. Based in Richmond, CSX was formed in late 1980 by a merger of Chessie System Inc. and Seaboard Coast Line Industries Inc. Their principal railroad subsidiaries include the Chesapeake & Ohio, Baltimore & Ohio, Louisville & Nashville, and the Clinchfield. CSX is also in coal and mineral development, real estate, resort hotels, executive aircraft management and newspaper publishing. (NYSE). FOUNDED: 1980 as a result of a merger of companies whose subsidiaries in turn date to the 1800s. TOP EXECUTIVES: Prime F. Osborn III, chairman; Hays T. Watkins, president.

CSX Corp. reported record earnings of $367.7 million in 1981, up 31 percent from 1980's previous record. Earnings per share jumped to $8.92 from $7.13. Consolidated revenues totaled $5.4 billion last year, up 12.2 percent from 1980, with transportation revenues accounting for $5.1 billion of the total. Assets topped $8.1 billion, up from $7.5 billion in 1980. Records set in 1981 included $509 million spent in capital improvements, an 11 percent increase in the dividend rate and coal loadings that topped all previous years.

The year's results, despite difficult economic conditions, including an 80-day strike in the coal fields, reflected the continuing strength of domestic and export coal markets, improved margins, merger-related efficiencies and improved performance by the major nonrail subsidiaries, CSX officials said. And it's going to get better, they told shareholders optimistically in the 1981 annual report. With a moderate improvement in the national economy this year, CSX could have its third straight year of record earnings in 1982, they predicted.

Looking at the longer term, based on current operations and future expectations, they forecast that CSX would do "increasingly well" in each of the next five years. CSX's goal is to at least double earnings per share over that period, it said.

Virginia Electric & Power Co. DESCRIPTION: A Richmond public utility engaged in the generation, purchase, transmission, distribution and sales of electric energy in a 32,000-square-mile service area in Virginia (including most of the Washington suburbs south of the Potomac), northeastern North Carolina and a small portion of West Virginia.(NYSE). FOUNDED: 1909 (trolley service was an early business line). TOP EXECUTIVES: William W. Berry, president; T. Justin Moore Jr., chairman.

In 1981, Vepco was able to supply its energy needs using very little oil. Nuclear units accounted for 41 percent of the electric company's total power supply, coal generation amounted to 31 percent, and oil amounted to only 8 percent.

After a long time down while steam generating equipment was replaced, Surry Power Station Unit 1 returned to service in July. The total cost of replacing the deteriorating equipment was about $113 million and increased the cost per kilowatt from the two Surry nuclear units from $257 to $330.

The company plans to spend $710 million on construction and nuclear fuel for 1982. Among the major projects is conversion of four large, coal-fired units from forced to balanced draft combustion.

Vepco officials expect peak demand to grow from 2 to 3 percent a year in the 1980s and 1990s. Its Bath County Pumped Storage project and construction of a third nuclear unit at North Anna will help meet that demand. Vepco recently cleared the last major regulatory hurdle to selling part of the capacity of the Bath County project to Allegheny Power System Inc. In return, Vepco will receive an initial payment of approximately $190 million. The company has also agreed to sell some of the power generated by North Anna to the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative to raise additional funds.

In 1981, Vepco received rate increases amounting to $222 million on an annual basis. In March, the company asked for a $96 million increase in revenues (an 8.9 percent hike) under a new procedure that will allow the rate increase to take effect May 1, subject to refund.

The company continues to have difficulty attracting the investors it needs. Vepco officials have said they hope the quick increase in returns from its latest rate request will make the company more attractive. Its market price compared with book value is among the lowest of all the electric utilities in the United States, according to Berry.

United Virginia Bankshares Inc. DESCRIPTION: A bank holding company with headquaters in Richmond. Its subsidiary, United Virginia Bank, is Virginia's largest with 170 offices (OTC). FOUNDED: 1962, in a merger of several institutions (some dating to the 1800s). TOP EXECUTIVES: Douglas H. Ludeman, president; Joseph A. Jennings, chairman and chief executive officer.

The Richmond-based bank performed well last year. Annual earnings improved for the sixth consecutive year with income before securities transactions up 13 percent to $38.8 million. The company reports that growth in net interest income was the major contributor to its results. Average loans were up 12 percent for the year, led by a 16 percent jump in commercial loans. In July, the board of directors authorized spending $5.7 million to implement self-service banking at 58 locations throughout the state, using a network of automated teller machines. In October, UVB acquired First and Merchants National Bank of Radford, with assets of $66 million.

Reynolds Metals Co. DESCRIPTION: A major worldwide, vertically intergrated producer of primary aluminum and fabricated aluminum products. The company ranks second in the United States and third in the world in primary aluminum production capacity (NYSE). FOUNDED: 1928. TOP EXECUTIVES: David P. Reynolds, chairman and chief executive officer; John E. Blomquist, president.

"The aluminum business was beleaguered in 1981 by recessionary forces in the economy," says Chairman David Reynolds. Slumps in the transportation and housing market, which traditionally account for almost half of the industry's shipments, and the disappearance of the unusually high export business that had buoyed sales in 1980, caused demand for aluminum to fall during the year. Reynolds' net income fell accordingly from $180 million in 1980 to $86 million last year. To balance its inventories with the current drop in demand, Reynolds has suspended production from some potlines at five of its reduction plants. The company was operating at 66 percent capacity as it entered 1982.

Norfolk & Western Railway Co. DESCRIPTION: A freight-hauling railroad operating in 14 eastern and midwestern states and one province of Canada. N&W is based in Roanoke, where it owns the Hotel Roanoke across from its headquarters building (NYSE). FOUNDED: 1894. TOP EXECUTIVE: Robert B. Claytor, president and chief executive officer.

Coal is king on the Norfolk and Western, the nation's most profitable railroad. But the road also is a major freight hauler from the mid-Atlantic states West to Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and on to Omaha and Kansas City. N&W will merge with Washington-based Southern soon to become the second major rail system to link the South with the Upper Midwest.

The merger cannot come too soon for both railroads, because they have been losing business to the CSX Corp.--a marriage of the Chessie System and the Family Lines (or Seaboard Coast). The Interstate Commerce Commission approved a merger of the Southern and N&W on March 25. While no formal date has yet been set for the merger, it is expected soon. N&W has seen its freight traffic decline because of the recession, but steady foreign demand for coal--the company operates a major coal export facility at Hampton Roads, Va.--has helped keep profits up. Last year was a record year for profits at the Norfolk & Western.

Ethyl Corp. DESCRIPTION: A diversified high technology producer of performance chemicals (such as antiknock compounds) for the petroleum industry, specialty chemicals, plastics and aluminum products, with developing interest in oil, gas and coal, based in Richmond (NYSE). FOUNDED: 1887. TOP EXECUTIVES: F.D. Gottwald, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer; Bruce C. Gottwald, president and chief operating officer.

The company's net income of $90 million, earnings per share of $4.56 and net sales of $1.7 billion for 1981 were all gains from 1980. In December, the company announced completion of a $50 million expansion of production facilities at its Houston plant. Ethyl branched in a new direction recently, agreeing with First Colony Life Insurance Co. of Lynchburg Jan. 20 for Ethyl to acquire all the outstanding stock of First Colony for nearly $270 million.

Best Products Co. DESCRIPTION: The largest catalogue showroom merchandiser in the United States, operating 92 showrooms in 10 states from its headquarters in Richmond (NYSE). FOUNDED: 1957. TOP EXECUTIVES: Sydney Lewis, chairman of the board and chief executive officer; Andrew M. Lewis, president and chief operating officer.

Eight new showrooms have been scheduled to open this year in California, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Further automation of showroom, warehouse and distribution operations is also planned. The company has told its stockholders that although "significant opportunities in the retail marketplace" are expected over the next five years, it remains cautious about the near future, despite the slight strengthening in sales over the past four or five months.

A.H. Robins DESCRIPTION: A Richmond manufacturer and marketing firm for health care products including ethical pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter drugs and brand-name products (NYSE). FOUNDED: 1866. TOP EXECUTIVES: E. Claiborne Robins, chairman of the board; E. Claiborne Robins Jr., president and chief executive officer.

Robins devoted much of its internal energies to planning and executing a major corporate restructuring, which became fully effective Jan. 1 this year. Robins got rid of its Babcock Industries poultry and swine operations--a money loser--and the Blair and Wade Divisions of Chap Stick Co.

Consumer products ended a four-year slide in profitability, contributing 15 percent to total operating profit. Health care profits accounted for the rest. Among the products under Robins' umbrella are Chap Stick, Sergeant's pet products, Allbee and Z-BEC vitamins, Quencher cosmetics and a host of pharmaceutical lines. Robins continues significant outlays for research and development of its pharmaceuticals.

The company said it continues to have problems concerning the Dalkon Shield, an intrauterine device used for birth control. Proceedings pending in U.S. District Court in San Francisco could facilitate disposition of the pending cases and claims involving the shield, Robins said.

Universal Leaf Tobacco DESCRIPTION: Richmond company that is the world's largest independent leaf tobacco dealer, also involved in the manufacturing and marketing of phosphate fertilizers for domestic and export markets (NYSE). FOUNDED: 1918 TOP EXECUTIVE: Gordon L. Crenshaw, president and chief executive officer.

The company reports that earnings rose last year to $31 million as sales of its U.S. flue-cured and Burley crops climbed. Universal's orders for both types were greater than in the prior year, while buying and processing volumes exceeded those of the previous year. The company's investments overseas proceeded on schedule with a new threshing line put in operation in Greece and new processing facilities under constuction in Italy and Brazil.

The low level of phosphate prices during the year had a dampening effect on the earnings levels of Universal's subsidiary Royster.

Richfood Inc. DESCRIPTION: The largest cooperative, full-line grocery wholesaler in the Southeast totally owned by the retailers who buy from the company, and it is based in Mechanicsville. FOUNDED: 1935. TOP EXECUTIVES: Leonard E. Starr, president; Morris L. Koslow, chairman.

Richfood products are found in well over 700 retail outlets, including Memco and Magruder's in the Washington market area. The cooperative experienced a good year in 1981, according to Starr. Despite an environment he described as "tough and competitive," the organization continues to prosper. Starr attributes the co-op's success to its "flexibility and ability to compete." "It's the nature of our independent operators," he said, and a testament to "how well they work together."