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ATHENS, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Greece's biggest oil refiner Hellenic Petroleum reported a 17 percent rise in fourth quarter core profit on Thursday, helped by strong refining margins and exports.
Core profit, or underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) - stripping out oil inventory holdings - came in at 215 million euros ($227 million), up from 184 million euros in 2015.
The figure was above an analysts' average forecast of 191.8 million euros in a Reuters poll.
Including oil inventories and a one-off insurance compensation, EBITDA jumped to 303 million euros, from 31 million euros in the last quarter of 2015, helped by inventory gains of 82 million euros - thanks to a rise in crude oil prices.
The refiner had booked inventory losses of 148 million euros in the fourth quarter of 2015.
For the full year, operating cash flow rose to 605 million euros from 593 million in the previous year. The refiner will pay out a dividend of 0.20 euros a share, after paying no dividend last year. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Susan Fenton)