Boeing Co. agreed to buy closely held Autometric Inc. for an undisclosed amount to bolster its position in space and communications markets. Autometric, based in Springfield, Va., makes computer tools that help send complex information or visualize terrain in three-dimensional images. The company had sales of $80 million last year and employs 560 people. Boeing has been moving more aggressively into space markets, agreeing in January to buy Hughes Electronics Corp.'s satellite-making operations. It said the purchase of Autometric would help it expand into the market for both commercial and military customers. Autometric’s employees could help Boeing as it develops spy satellites, said JSA Research Inc. analyst Paul Nisbet, who added that the purchase of such a specialized company is unusual for the Seattle-based plane maker. Employee-owned Autometric was founded in 1957 as part of movie studio Paramount Pictures. It eventually branched into other uses for its visual technology, including surveying of the Apollo lunar landing sites. Boeing shares rose $1.29 to close at $40.25 on the New York Stock Exchange.
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