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(Adds financial details, analyst expectations)
RIO DE JANEIRO, May 15 (Reuters) - Brazil's state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA beat analyst forecasts on Friday, posting first-quarter profit little changed from a year earlier, as an end to fuel subsidies helped overcome a plunge in crude prices.
Petrobras, as the oil company is commonly known, said profit in the three months ending March 30 fell 1.2 percent to 5.33 billion reais ($1.78 billion) compared with 5.39 billion reais a year earlier, according to a filing with Brazil's securities regulator CVM.
The result exceeded expectations of a 2.5 billion-real quarterly profit, the average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Reuters. One of the analysts predicted a net loss.
Petrobras also reported net sales, or sales minus sales taxes, of 74.4 billion reais, broadly in line with expectations of 79.4 billion reais.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a measure of cash flow known as EBITDA, was 21.5 billion reais, more than a third higher than the 16 billion reais expected in the survey. ($1 = 3.00 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Jeb Blount and Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Matthew Lewis)