And despite Goldman's call, many analysts remain bullish. Fadel Gheit, analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. who follows oil and gas companies like Exxon Mobil ( XOM), Chevron Corp. ( CVX) and ConocoPhillips ( COP) expects oil prices to remain inflated due to political turmoil in the Middle East while natural gas remains cheap since technology developments have made it easier to find. It may not matter much to Glencore--or, for that matter, to Goldman, which is a formidable commodities trader itself. Goldman's top two executives, Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein and President Gary Cohn, came up through the firm's commodities division. "Traders do not want prices to be stale," Gheit says. "Whether
oil is $100 per barrel or $50 or $200 they want them to keep moving. Up or down doesn't matter if they just keep moving, because when they move, that's how they make their money." Also, as Gheit points out, commodities in recent years have come to occupy an increasingly central role in the financial services industry--further reason for investors to keep an eye on Glencore. "Ten years ago a pension fund never touched a commodity, but now it's an asset class. That's why they have ETFs. It's packaged if you will. The banks are trying to create another product to create customers, and that's what they're doing." No one is talking about Glencore and ETFs in the same breath yet, but once it goes public such discussions may not seem so far-fetched. Among the shareholders getting in on the ground floor will be Fidelity Investments and BlackRock ( BLK). both of which participated in the commodities giant's 2009 $2.2 billion convertible bond offering. -- Written by Dan Freed in New York.