Officials at Atlantic Research Corp., the Alexandria rocket builder, are trying to look beyond the problems caused this spring when Henry D. Clarke's company, Clabir Corp., became the largest shareholder in ARC and Clarke disclosed his intention to buy the defense firm.

To fend off Clarke's takeover efforts, ARC bought ORI Group Inc., a professional services company, in a stock deal that diluted Clarke's ARC holdings. The company cut its corporate staff by about 125 people. But the future of ARC remains uncertain because Clabir still holds 12.8 percent of its stock.

"Clabir is still the big unknown in any equation to evaluate ARC stock," said Eliot H. Benson, vice president and research director for Ferris & Co.

"Clarke can make another takeover attempt, though I doubt it; he can sell the shares to someone else who will try to take over ARC; he can sell them to major institutions; or sell them on the market. One way or another, Clabir's takeover attempt has had an unfavorable impact on ARC stock, because it represents uncertainty and the market does not like uncertainty," said Benson.

William H. Borten, president and chief executive officer of Atlantic Research, tells a more optimistic story about ARC's future. "I think we will evolve into a multibillion dollar company in the decade ahead. We are a well-balanced company with a bright future," he said.

But, Benson said, "ARC's earnings have not been reaching the 20 to 25 percent rates of gain that the company has achieved in the past." Operating income fell, compared with last year, and net income posted a modest increase in the second quarter because of the sale of land in Loudoun County.

"But ARC has legitimate reasons for its poor performance, {lower margins in its electronics products, and one-time costs from acquiring the ORI Group}. I expect earnings will recover in the second half of the year," said Benson.

Borten talks contract and restructuring instead of recovery. The company's most recent $9 million contract to produce rocket motors for the Navy's Standard Missile is "the cream on the cake," said Borten. The contract will enable ARC to qualify as one of two suppliers of the motors to the Navy. Morton Thiokol Inc. in Chicago is the other producer. "This has the potential to be the single largest rocket program this company has ever done," said Borten. He estimates the contract will bring in more than $300 million through the mid-1990s.

The company has won four other major contracts, totaling more than $25 million, in the past three weeks. ARC and its joint-venture partner Hercules Inc. won a $22.3 million contract to develop a ramjet engine for the Air Force's air-to-air missile systems. The company's Virginia propulsion division won a $3.6 million contract to supply LTV Corp. with attitude control rocket motors, which are motors that can direct a small rocket in fine movements to the right and left. The ORI Group won a recompetition for a $7.9 million, five year contract to provide the Naval Surface Weapons Center with systems engineering and missile upgrades. ORI also was chosen by Boeing Computer Services Co. to be a subcontractor on a Space Station project worth $1.6 million in the first year.

"We are a significant player in the public sector, we plan on becoming a more significant player in the private market," said Borten.

Last week, ARC bought Amercom Inc. in Chatsworth, Calif., which produces advanced high temperature materials. ARC expects that the strong, lightweight material will be used in a variety of advanced aerospace programs, and may be available for commercial use in the next decade.

"I am predicting a 10 to 15 percent improvement in earnings over the year," said Borten.

"I think the stock represents good value, but Clabir still bothers me," said Benson.

Southam Printing Ltd., a subsidiary of Southam Inc. of Toronto recently acquired its first high-quality magazine printing company in the U.S. Southam bought Holladay-Tyler Printing Corp. of Glenn Dale, Md., for an undisclosed amount.

Holladay-Tyler operates a modern web offset printing plant that produces publications for National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution, National Wildlife Federation, Philip Morris Magazine, Fairchild Publications, the American Automobile Association and the Hearst Corp.

Southam operates 14 printing plants across Canada.

Under the agreement, Wayne Tyler will continue as president and chief executive officer of Holladay-Tyler. The company employs 400 people.

Fairchild Communications Services Co. in Chantilly bought the assets of General Electric's shared telecommunications services business in Atlanta for $1.04 million.

The acquisition increases FCS's total phone base in Atlanta to well over 3,000 phones, according to Mel Borer, general manager of FCS.

FCS, a unit of Fairchild Industries, takes control of existing telecommunications services being provided to three buildings in the Circle 75 office park in Atlanta. The park is owned by B.F. Saul Real Estate Investment Trust Development and managed by Franklin Properties. About 700 full-service phones are in use.

GE Telecommunications services operation will be merged with the total FCS operation in Atlanta, which provides telecommunications services to four office developments.

Two Questech Inc. subsidiaries, Quest Research Corp. (QRC) and Engineering Resources Inc. (ERI) were awarded a contract by the Army that has a potential value of $45 million.

QRC and ERI will provide engineering, management and logistic services to the signal intelligence and electronic warfare programs conducted at Vint Hill Farms Station in Warrenton, Va.

This is the third consecutive contract awarded to Questech for work on Vint Hill Farms.

Questech is a professional, scientific and engineering services firm based in Mclean.

James River Corp. in Richmond has purchased 50 percent interest in Kaysersberg S.A. -- the sanitary paper subsidiary of Beghin-Say S.A. in Paris -- for $243 million.

Under the terms of the agreement, James River will acquire a 50 percent interest in stages through Jan. 30, 1989, but will obtain 50 percent representation on the board of directors with the first purchase of shares.

Kaysersberg makes and markets a broad line of towel and tissue, personal care and health care products in France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries.

Its leading brands are Lotus and Vania.

The company has eight plants that manufacture plastic materials for food service products as well as sanitary paper.

Its 1986 sales were $648 million and net income was $17.8 million.

James River is the second-largest tissue manufacturer in the United States.

Intelus -- a three-year-old computer systems firm in Rockville -- is installing its ChartFlo medical records management system in many New York City hospitals under a $2 million contract from the The New York City Health and Hospitals Corp.

The ChartFlo system finds medical charts through bar codes. Scanning machines -- much like cash registers at a grocery store -- are set up throughout the hospital and register when a medical chart with a bar code passes from one area to another.

Hospital personnel type a patient's name into a notebook-sized terminal that is hooked up to a central microcomputer.

The computer translates the name into a bar code to locate that patient's medical record. The system is used primarily by medical records departments and outpatient clinics, not in inpatient areas.

The system will operate at 17 locations, ranging from neighborhood family clinics to hospitals with 1,250 beds. A pilot installation of the system has been successful at the North Central Bronx Hospital since April 1986.

Reynolds Aluminum Co. has become the fourth owner in the Becancour aluminum smelter in Quebec, Canada. The three other owners are Pechiney Corp., Le Groupe SGF and Alumax Inc.

Pechiney owned 50.1 percent in the smeltering plant through Pechiney Quebec Inc. To acquire a 25.05 percent share in Becancour, Reynolds bought 50 percent interest in Pechiney Quebec Inc., and now the company has been renamed Pechiney Reynolds Quebec Inc.

Reynolds investment consists of $87.5 million initially, with the balance of $142.5 million provided from Pechiney Quebec's existing borrowing to build the smelter.

Bancancour is adjacent to a deep water port on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. Alumina, the starting material for metallic aluminum, and petroleum coke, the feedstock for carbon anodes, are shipped to the smeltering plant and processed into about 230,000 metric tons of primary aluminum per year. Reynolds will receive 57,500 tons of that total.

Aluminerie de Becancour Inc. operates the plant for the four owners. "This purchase amounts to an equity investment in the plant," said Robert Shaffer, director of corporate information for Reynolds Metals.

ABD is studying the feasibility of adding another aluminum production line, which could produce 115,000 metric tons per year.