What happened?

It's a fine way to kick off a new fiscal year. Now in the opening days of its fiscal 2017, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (NYSE:HPE) has declared the first dividend raise in its short history. The company's new quarterly payout will be just under $0.07 per share, which is $0.01 -- or 18% -- higher than its predecessor.

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Just over one year ago, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise was hived off from the company now known as HP (NYSE:HPQ).

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise's freshly raised dividend will be paid "on or about" Jan. 4, 2017, to stockholders of record as of Dec. 14, 2016. At the most recent closing share price, it would yield 1.1%. By comparison, the current average yield of dividend-paying stocks on the S&P 500 is slightly below 2.1%.

Does it matter?

An extra penny on the dividend, resulting in a yield barely exceeding 1%, isn't going to move the needle on Hewlett-Packard Enterprise stock (particularly considering the company's sibling, HP, pays out at a 3.2% clip).

But I don't think the point of the raise was to juice the share price. Rather, the goal seems to be to reinforce CEO Meg Whitman's oft-stated ambition to keep returning money to shareholders. After all, in addition to handing out a dividend, the company also runs a big stock repurchase program. All told, it returned around $1.5 billion to shareholders in its Q3.

Investors are concerned that Hewlett-Packard Enterprise's top line is eroding (it declined by 6% on a year-over-year basis in Q3). But revenue growth isn't the point -- Whitman aims to slim down the company, to the point where it's a lean, flexible business that is better able to react to its ever-changing market. A pair of spinoffs slated to take place soon is a big move in that direction.

Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is comfortably in the black on the bottom line, and it's good at generating the green stuff -- its adjusted cash flow from operations rose an encouraging 10% on a year-over-year basis in Q3. So no, this inaugural dividend raise won't mean a bull rush toward its stock, but it's a good sign of confidence in how the company's doing.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.