BIG DROP: Health insurer Aetna Inc. said Thursday its fourth-quarter net income sank 49 percent. It earned $190.1 million, or 56 cents per share, in the three months that ended Dec. 31. That compares to $372.6 million, or $1.02 per share, in the 2011 quarter. Adjusted earnings were 94 cents per share, and revenue not counting one-time items grew 5 percent to $8.96 billion.

WHY: The Hartford, Conn., company said higher medical costs squeezed commercial health coverage profitability, and it booked several one-time expenses.

EXPECTATIONS: Analysts forecast, on average, earnings of 97 cents per share on $8.89 billion in revenue.

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