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AOL yesterday posted 170 per cent profit growth for the fourth quarter, but said Europe was the thorn in its side. America Online reported profit of $156 million, or 13 cents per share, for the quarter ended 30 June, beating Wall Street expectations. This excluded charges for acquisitions made during the period. Figures were up on last year's $58 million profits, or five cents per share. Sales rose 46 per cent to $1.4 billion. New subscriptions accounted for much of this growth. Revenue from users of the AOL and CompuServe services grew 39 per cent to $943 million. The AOL service added 755,000 new users in the fourth quarter, bringing its total membership to 17.6 million. This was lower than Wall Street expectations. AOL said stiff competition from new subscription-free Web services had resulted in lagging growth in Europe. To compete, AOL will launch its own free service, Netscape Online, due to start next month. ®

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