A better-than-expected third quarter boosted home health giant Amedisys Inc.’s shares to a three-year high Wednesday, as shares briefly spiked by more than 18 percent before easing back.

The Baton Rouge-based company reported a third-quarter profit of $8.4 million, or 26 cents per share, easily beating Wall Street analysts’ expectations.

Stock analysts surveyed by Zack’s Investment Research forecast a profit of 17 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting 15 cents per share.

Amedisys said its revenue dipped slightly from $301.3 million a year ago to $300.3 million during the most recent quarter.

Amedisys slashed operating expenses by nearly 38 percent over the 12-month period, from $455.5 million to $284.0 million. The company has been consolidating and closing poor-performing health centers for several quarters, as well as cutting back staff at those centers and at corporate headquarters.

Interim Chief Executive Officer Ronald A. Laborde said he was pleased with “another quarter of progress.”

Wednesday’s announcement lies some distance away from the third-quarter 2013 results. A year ago Amedisys posted a loss of $423.7 million, or $14.73 per share. Those results included a paper loss of $574.1 million. The tumultuous quarterly report also included the news that Chief Operating Officer Thomas Snow had left the company. Amedisys shares closed at a seven-year low, $10.06, following that report.

However, without the asset write-off, Amedisys would have earned $10.6 million, or 36 cents per share, for the third quarter of 2013.

Editor’s note: This story was changed Oct. 29, 2014, to correct the third-quarter 2013 financial results for Amedisys.