Companies shrink dividends as executives shift gears on spending

Faced with declining earnings and heavy debt loads, companies are reducing dividend payments to shareholders to improve the health of their balance sheets.

Intel, the world’s largest maker of computer processors, last week slashed its dividend payment to the lowest level in 16 years in an effort to preserve cash and help turn around its business. Hanesbrands, a century-old apparel maker, earlier this month eliminated the quarterly dividend it started paying nearly a decade ago. VF, which owns Vans, The North Face and other brands, also cut its dividend in recent weeks as it works to reduce its debt burden.