The share price falls in the resources sector have been astounding in the last couple of years. Clearly, with commodity prices declining to such a large degree, the only way was down.

And while a number of investors are optimistic about the prospects for a rebound in the prices of a variety of commodities, the collapse of resources company share prices in recent months could have changed investor perceptions for the long term. In other words, even if commodity prices do recover, investor sentiment may fail to reach the heights seen in recent years due to the current state of fear being unlikely to completely fade away.

As a result of this, the share prices for a number of commodity stocks could take a very long time to recover. There’s even the prospect of a number of them never reaching previous highs since demand for a range of commodities may never return, since a less capital expenditure-focused China could mean that the last couple of decades were something of an exceptional period for the commodity markets.

One company that has suffered greatly from commodity price falls is Glencore (LSE: GLEN). Its shares have sunk from a high of 532p shortly after listing in May 2011 to a price of just 87p today. That’s a fall of 84% in less than five years and for those investors who purchased Glencore shares back then, it must seem like there’s next to no hope of a return to previous highs.

While Glencore may never reach such heights again, the company does have a new strategy that has the potential to significantly improve its financial performance and also investor sentiment. A recent fundraising coupled with major cost savings has helped to ease concerns about Glencore’s level of leverage. Meanwhile reduced chances of a rising US interest rate should also help to keep debt servicing costs lower than many investors had previously forecast.

Clearly, Glencore’s future is closely tied to the price of commodities, but with its trading division continuing to be highly profitable and it being forecast to increase its earnings by 19% in 2016, it could be worth a closer look for less risk-averse investors.

Lack of Xcitement

Meanwhile, shares in North Sea oil exploration company Xcite Energy (LSE: XEL) have also tumbled in recent years. In fact, in the last year alone Xcite’s share price has sunk by 41%, and even though it’s up by 17% in the last week as the price of oil has staged a comeback, its long-term outlook remains challenging.

Certainly, Xcite has excellent potential due to its Bentley prospect being a high quality asset. But with spending being cut across the industry and investors having become increasingly defensive and cautious about costs and investment, Xcite has struggled to move the project forward as quickly as the market was perhaps seeking. And even if the oil price does recover quickly, this caution is likely to remain in place over the medium term, which doesn’t bode well for Xcite since it has substantial leverage and a lack of revenue.

So, while Xcite isn’t a lost cause due to its asset potential, it doesn’t appear to offer a compelling risk/reward opportunity at the present time.

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Peter Stephens has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.