What happened

Shares of SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) jumped 56.9% in 2019, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, as financial conditions improved and the company announced a restructuring.

So what

There was a steady improvement in SunPower's financial condition in 2019, which you can see below. Gross margin improved as the company saw more demand in residential and commercial solar. But that wasn't enough to report a profit.

SPWR Revenue (TTM) Chart

SPWR Revenue (TTM) data by YCharts.

To turn the business around, SunPower announced a split into two companies -- SunPower and Maxeon Solar Technologies. SunPower will be the residential and commercial solar developer, installing some projects on its own and working with third-party installers for others.

Maxeon will own most of the solar panel technology and manufacturing capacity. TZS, a Chinese firm that SunPower has worked with for years, will make a $298 million investment in the company for a 29% stake, which will help fund a manufacturing expansion. The hope is that more focus on manufacturing will get the company to profitability.

Large rooftop covered with SunPower solar panels.

Image source: SunPower.

Now what

I wouldn't call 2019 a great year for SunPower. But the stock started the year at about $5 per share, which was bargain-basement pricing for investors. Shares just bounced off that low, which can happen with low-price stocks.

2020 will be a big year for SunPower and, eventually, Maxeon. They need to prove that their new strategy is going to work in the highly competitive solar industry, and while I think SunPower has a chance, it's a long road ahead. 2019 was great from a stock standpoint, but 2020 has many questions ahead.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.