There are a couple of reasons why investors are drawn to companies that hike their dividends. The extra pocket change is one. The show of confidence by a company willing to increase its payout is another. Every week, dozens of companies raise the sum of their quarterly distributions to their shareholders, and it's mostly overlooked by the media.

Not this time. Here are four companies that recently announced increases in the money they send back to investors.

Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD) may have tapped a dud keg of a quarter last week, with profits dipping on flat sales, but that didn't stop the board from hiking the dividend by 10%. With quarterly checks now coming out to $0.27 a share, the move props the company's yield up to a rather sudsy 2.4%.

Dividends rising at Kellogg (NYSE:K)? Grrrrreat! It's the first hike at the cereal and cookie giant in five years, and that's worth noting. Investors should see this as Kellogg finally moving on after taking on a good deal of debt in its acquisition of Keebler. It obviously wouldn't be growing its distributions if it didn't have its debt under control.

One company that has devoured the concept of higher dividends is Microchip Technology (NASDAQ:MCHP). The semiconductor specialist wasn't even paying a dividend until 2003, but has since grown its payout punch by a whopping 525%. The latest hike is a 32% sequential spurt -- and a huge 172% advance from last year's level. One shouldn't expect the increases to continue at such a feverish pace. Microchip started off as a light payer two years ago, and today's yield is still a rather modest 1.6%. However, it will certainly draw even more attention if the company keeps ramping up its distributions.

Newspaper heavy Gannett (NYSE:GCI) also pumped up its yield. With quarterly payments going from $0.27 a share to $0.29 a share, the company behind USA Today is making sure that shareholders don't have empty pockets the next time they go to buy the morning paper. That may seem like a bold move, especially after stun-gun maker Taser (NASDAQ:TASR) announced that it was suing Gannett for misrepresenting the electrical force of Taser's namesake weapon. Then again, it may show the company's confidence that it will hold up well against Taser's case.

In the end, it's hard to say anything bad about dividend hikes. Subscribers to our Motley Fool Income Investor newsletter know all about that; analyst Mathew Emmert highlighted companies like Pitney Bowes (NYSE:PBI) and Heinz (NYSE:HNZ) that are committed to growing their distributions. Go ahead and give his newsletter service a shot with a 30-day free trial. Who knows? Your curiosity might just pay off.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz refuses to refer to Anheuser-Busch's hike as "beer money," though you are welcome to do so. Just don't drink and invest. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.