This Former Olympian Loves Comcast Corporation (CMCSA) & Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)

James Melcher is the founder of Balestra Capital. A former stockbroker at A.G. Becker, Melcher founded Balestra in 1979, and is also the founder of venture capital fund First Venture Fund. But all of James Melcher’s achievements do not end here. He is also the member of the 1972 U.S Olympic team.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)At Insider Monkeywe track the activity of different hedge funds, including Balestra. Our strategy helps those who follow the activity of the hedge funds from our database to beat the broader indices by about 18 percentage points per year. (See more details about our strategy here). At the same time, if you want to find out more about what a hedge fund is and how it works, check out our hedge fund definition breakdown.

In this way, let’s take a look at the top picks in terms of value from the equity portfolio of James Melcher’s hedge fund. In first place is Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA), represented in the portfolio by 988,166 shares, worth $41.3 million. The stake in Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is a new acquisition in the 13F portfolio of Balestra. Shares sport a year-to-date return of over 20% and  a P/E of 17.7x.

The next on the list is Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM), in which the hedge fund disclosed a $38.5 million stake, which contains 444,237 shares. During the second quarter of 2013, the hedge fund added 159,163 shares to its position in Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM), moving it ten positions up.

In Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Balestra disclosed ownership of almost 1.1 million shares, the value of the stake amounting to $37.3 million, unchanged over the quarter. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is a popular company in the hedge fund universe, being in the equity portfolios of some of the best hedge funds, such as Yacktman Asset Management managed by Donald Yacktman, or Ken Fisher’s Fisher Asset Management. The stock of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has a year-to-date return of almost 21.4%.

Next comes SAP AG (ADR) (NYSE:SAP). During the April-June period, Balestra held 492,194 shares, worth almost $35.9 million, up from $30.7 million disclosed at the end of the first quarter, when the hedge fund owned 380,907 shares. The stock of SAP AG (ADR) (NYSE:SAP) sports a P/E of 22.7x and since the beginning of the year, it has lost 6% of its value.

In fifth is The Western Union Company (NYSE:WU), in which the hedge fund reported a $35.3 million position–almost 2.1 million shares. During the second quarter of the year, the firm’s position in The Western Union Company (NYSE:WU) remained unchanged, but moved two places down, as compared with the first quarter of 2013.

Overall, during the second quarter of 2013, the equity portfolio of Balestra Capital involved stakes in 15 companies, and was worth $369.8 million, down from $474.4 million reported at the end of March.

In addition to James Melcher’s fund, Kahn Brothers, Richard Chilton’s Chilton Investment Company, and David Winters’s Wintergreen Advisors are also worth taking a peek at.

Disclosure: none