HARTFORD, Connecticut ( TheStreet) -- Aetna ( AET) posted third-quarter operating earnings of $528.4 million, or $1.40 a share, topping analysts' estimates, on lower-than-projected utilization and disciplined pricing. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected the health insurer to earn $1.15 a share. Operating earnings a year earlier were $419.6 million, or $1 a share. Net income in the third quarter fell to $490.4 million from $497.6 million a year earlier, but net income on a per-share basis rose to $1.30 from $1.19 on fewer outstanding shares. Revenue, excluding net realized capital gains, fell 1% to $8.4 billion. Aetna said Thursday it expects operating earnings for 2011 of $5 a share. Analysts estimate $4.81 a share. The company said its initial projection for 2012 calls for operating earnings of at least $4.80 a share. -- Written by Joseph Woelfel >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Joseph Woelfel >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.