Peoples Drug Stores Inc. has announced the election of Robert M. Arensmeyer as executive vice president. He will be responsible for day-to-day execution of company policies and programs and will continue as chief financial officer.

Arensmeyer was formerly senior vice president and treasurer. He started with Peoples in 1968 as comptroller. Before joining Peoples, he was with Price Waterhouse Co., Granite City Steel Co. and Katz Drug Co. He is a member of the Peoples' board of directors.

Arensmeyer becomes the company's No. 2 executive at a time of increasing profits, according to predictions by Sheldon W. Fantle, Peoples Drug president and chief executive officer. At a meeting of analysts last week in New York, Fantle said that "Peoples' business continues to be exceedingly strong and could result in a 50 percent profit increase in our third quarter, which ended July 2."

Fantle said that when the company's third-quarter results are reported in two to three weeks, he expects net income of $2.7 million to $3 million (35 cents to 40 cents per share, versus $1.9 million, or 26 cents per share, in the third quarter of 1982. Per-share figures are adjusted to reflect a 5-for-4 stock split issued in October 1982 and a 3-for-2 split declared in June 1983.

Sales for the third quarter rose 16 percent to $184 million, Fantle said. He said the drug store chain's earnings are due to "consistent sales momentum, controlling business expenses and a continued reduction of interest expense."

For the first half of fiscal 1983, net income increased 24 percent to $7 million, from $5.6 million a year ago. Earnings per share reached 92 cents, compared to 75 cents in 1982. Total sales for the 28-week period increased 15 percent to $423.4 million, from $366.8 million in the same period in 1982.

Peoples operates 571 stores in 13 states and Washington.

On July 1, the Anacostia Peoples Drug Store at 2529 Pennsylvania Ave. SE was gutted by fire. Within a week, the company had leased space across the street at 2518 Pennsylvania Ave. and opened a temporary drug store.

During the fire, the prescription files were in a metal file protected by a caved-in roof.

Peoples is currently in negotiation with the landlord of the burned-out property. The company said it hopes to have a new store built on the old site