One of the Virginia furniture stocks that has been moving steadily this year is Pulaski Furniture Corp. of Pulaski.

Pulaski shares, selling for $27.50 on Jan. 1, closed Friday at $37.75, up 37.2 percent in 4 1/2 months. That is far ahead of the 12.4 percent gain for all of 1985 and the 29.3 percent increase in 1984.

Pulaski, with six plants, manufactures bedroom and dining-room furniture but specializes in occasional pieces such as curio cabinets and gun cabinets.

The company has grown rapidly in recent years. Sales rose to $74 million in fiscal 1985, up from $48 million in 1981, a gain of 54 percent in four years.

Analysts at Wheat, First Securities in Richmond think Pulaski's growth can continue, despite tough domestic and foreign competition.

Jason A. Gibbs, Pulaski's controller, believes one of the reasons for the rise in Pulaski shares is the recent $9.4 million acquisition of Gravely Furniture Co., now called Ridgeway Clock Co.

Ridgeway produces a line of distinctive-looking grandfather clocks, and their sales helped put a sizable bulge in Pulaski's profits last winter during the first quarter of fiscal 1986.

But sales of grandfather clocks are seasonal, and the bulge flattened out during the second quarter of fiscal 1986, which ended on April 13.

On a long-term basis, the Gravely acquisition is expected to help solidify the profit picture at Pulaski. The company earned $2.25 a share in fiscal 1983 and $2.80 in 1984 but only $2.50 in 1985. However, First Securities estimates that Pulaski will earn $3.30 a share for fiscal 1986.

When Gravely was acquired, it was anticipated that the merger would boost Pulaski's total yearly sales to about $90 million and create a work force of about 1,800 employes.

Pulaski will split its stock 2-for-1, effective June 16 for stockholders of record May 30.

Pulaski has had its share of problems. They include a joint venture for the production of particleboard, called Triwood Inc. Pulaski said start-up costs were greater than expected and that it charged off $385,000 in losses from the operation.

Furniture stocks generally have benefited from the low-interest-rate climate. The lower rates, which make homeownership more affordable, have set off a boom in home building and in the resale of existing homes. People who are buying homes are prime customers for new furniture.

So the market generally has bid up furniture stocks. Rowe Furniture of Salem, Va., has seen its shares climb 87.5 percent since Jan. 1 and American Furniture of Martinsville, Va., has moved up 55.3 percent. Two industry giants have seen smaller gains. Bassett Furniture of Bassett, Va., has moved up 15.7 percent and Lane Co. of Altavista, Va., is up 18.2 percent.

Price-earnings ratios range from 12.8 for Rowe to 16.5 for American Furniture with an industry average of about 14, which is close to the Standard & Poor's 500 multiple of about 16.

Even so, there is a feeling among analysts that furniture sales will have to show substantial improvement before the stocks can move much higher.

If you wanted to find a company called Old Dominion Systems Inc., you might logically decide to start looking in Virginia. But you wouldn't find it there.

Old Dominion Systems makes its home in Gaithersburg, Md., and soon will be moving to a new $2.3 million building in Germantown, Md.

The story, according to President J. Graham Hartwell is that when the company was formed in 1969, founders chose the name Old Dominion because they thought they were going to do a lot of business in the Tidewater area of Virginia. That didn't work out, and the firm wound up in Maryland.

Today, Old Dominion Systems is a $9 million-a-year computer company that is, perhaps, best known for a product called TRUANT, an automatic telephone dialer used by school systems to tell parents that their youngsters didn't show up for school. It also can be used, Hartwell said, to transmit better news, such as who made the honor roll this month.

The news about Old Dominion Systems, however, is that it went public the other day, selling 1.15 million shares for $5 a share. After commissions are paid, Old Dominion will wind up with about $4.5 million to use for various corporate projects.

Why did the 17-year-old company go public now?

"We needed the money," replied Hartwell candidly.

The company, he noted, has little debt and wanted to expand its operations. Like other chief executives, Hartwell has found that this is a good market in which to go public.

Hartwell rates a mention in the May 19 issue of Business Week for his use of a 10-minute videotape to help sell stock in his company during the offering period. Increasingly, the magazine reports, videotapes are being used to explain new offerings of stocks, bonds and limited partnerships and to avoid making people trek across the country for "dog-and-pony shows."

Old Dominion Systems' business is evenly divided between software and hardware and between government and commercial work.

Old Dominion is one of many Beltway companies that recently found themselves in a new era of competition when the government did away with many of the "sole source" contract awards. Old Dominion is able to cope with the new demands of competitive bidding, Hartwell said, but it hasn't been easy. "We've been scrambling to get costs down," he said.

Not all public offerings make it on the first go-round. Example: Chesapeake Space Stations Inc. of Baltimore. The company wanted to build a chain of fast-food restaurants shaped like geodesic domes, silver in color and decorated with neon signs. The idea was to make each restaurant resemble a space station standing on an extraterrestrial site.

It would have taken $500,000 to get the restaurant company off the ground, so to speak. But, said Kenneth K. Sidle, president of the fledging company, it could raise only about $300,000 to $350,000 by the time the offering period expired. So the offering was canceled and the project will be reevaluated. He said he didn't know whether Chesapeake Space Stations eventually would fly or not.

T. Rowe Price Associates of Baltimore, with a family of 17 funds, will be adding four more. One will be an international bond fund. A second fund will be devoted to aggressive capital appreciation. And there will be two state tax-exempt funds, one for New York and one for California. Price's new Realty Income Fund II has attracted $32 million thus far. It will be open until July. Realty Income Fund I reached $90 million.

NVHomes of McLean, one of the largest builders of single-family homes in Fairfax County, will be offering 1.8 million units in a limited partnership at between $10 and $12 a unit, according to Dwight C. Schar, chairman. The firm expects to list the units on the American Stock Exchange. NVHomes also is an active builder in Montgomery County.

When the bulls begin to run, the new-issues folks are not far behind. So far, 1983 remains the top year for new issues, but 1986 is shaping up as another big year for IPOs -- initial public offerings.

In 1983, there were a total of 890 new issues worth $12.9 billion. In 1984, business dropped off to 537 new issues, valued at $3.9 billion. In 1985, there were fewer issues but they were worth more -- 495 new issues totaling $7.8 billion.

For the first four months of this year, reports New Issues newsletter of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., there have been 189 new issues valued at $3.92 billion, and they continue to pour in.

0ne of the largest initial public offerings in U.S. history was the First Australia Prime Income Fund, which sold $855 million worth of stock in April. That surpassed last year's sale of $824 million of shares in The Firemen's Fund. First Australia is a closed-end fund that allows U.S. investors to buy high-yielding Australian and New Zealand government, bank and corporate securities. Yields run as high as 20 percent.