Sonders: Recovery Is More than "Sugar High"

Charles Schwab’s Liz Ann Sonders — who made what appear to have been very accurate calls on the start and end of the recent recession — says the U.S. economic recovery is now entering self-sustaining mode.

“It’s more than just a ‘sugar high’,” Sonders tells Harlan Levy in an interview on Seeking Alpha. “This is a legitimate recovery, in many ways as a result of a lot of the traditional forces that kick in in recoveries. You get inventory rebuilding, which pushes up industrial production, which pushes up the need to hire. We’ve got very strong exports. We’ve got businesses in very healthy shape right now in terms of their balance sheets.”

Sonders also says that businesses were so hurt coming out of the 2001 recession that they didn’t do much capital spending, which means there’s a decade’s worth of pent-up demand on that front. Consumption has also started to come around, and she says we’re seeing an “unquestionable” V-shaped recovery in the manufacturing sector. “So a lot of what you tend to see happen as the economy moves from recession into recovery and then eventually from recovery into expansion is happening this time, too,” she says.

Another key point, Sonders says: Top-line (revenue) growth has been beating estimates by a wider margin than earnings growth has been beating estimates in the past two quarters. “That tells you we are two quarters past the point where it was really all about cost-cutting and very little about top-line sales growth,” she says. “Certainly the estimates out through the rest of 2010 reflect a very strong environment for top-line growth, not just bottom-line growth.”

Sonders says that generally, the path of least resistance for the stock market is up. But she also says she doesn’t expect it to be a smooth ride.

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