Buffet said 2012 below par for Berkshire Hathaway

1:56 pm on 3 March 2013

US investor Warren Buffett has told shareholders in his annual letter that last year was below standards for the investment guru's funds.

His comments came despite a 45% increase in profit for his Berkshire Hathaway investment business, the BBC reports.

Mr Buffett said 2012 was only the ninth year of the past 48 years that he failed to beat the S&P 500 index.

However, he said he had reloaded his "elephant gun", a reference to a previous comment in 2011 that he was using such a weapon to look for acquisitions.

He also went into some detail about his policy of not paying dividends to shareholders - a practice deemed normal by any other business that has moved beyond the start-up phase.

He explained his position, which is that his shareholders do better through his investment of profits than they would through receiving a share of them as they are made, though he said he would revise the policy if conditions merited it.

Berkshire's profits last year were $US14.8 billion, up from $US10.3 billion the previous year.