What happened

SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) stock lay mostly quiescent for most of today -- then suddenly spiked at 1:30 p.m. EST, and again at 2 p.m., apparently in response to comments its CEO made to Bloomberg.

At one point, SunPower stock was up more than 10% today, before retracing to close the day still up 4.3%.

Woman in hardhat holding a solar panel

SunPower prepares to offer its investors a solar split. Image source: Getty Images.

So what

So what was it SunPower said that got investors so excited, and so suddenly? According to a retelling on TheFly.com, CEO Tom Werner told the network that while it is not committing to "splitting" its business, "We are going to make it capable of splitting."

But what does that mean?

SunPower makes and installs solar panels for residential and commercial customers -- and even for large utilities operating solar farms. That latter business, however, has been shrinking in size and profitability for SunPower of late, leading the company toward a new business model emphasizing "distributed solar" in which power is generated locally where it is consumed, rather than centrally at a utility-scale solar farm, for distribution to end users.

Although we're not privy to all of Werner's comments, they seem to imply that the company is preparing to make a major move along these lines, perhaps spinning off its utility business, or its commercial business, or its residential business -- or all three -- into separate companies.

Now what

We should find out more about these plans when SunPower reports fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday, Feb. 13. Even if SunPower doesn't address the question in its earnings report per se, you can bet your wallet that after today's price move, analysts will be asking pointed questions about just what kind of "split" SunPower is intending, when the post-earnings conference call rolls around.

Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.