Fatter dividend checks have a funny way of making income investors smile. It's also a great indication that you've bought into a strong stock. After all, would an unsure company be willing to declare even larger distributions to its shareholders? That's why higher yields have a funny way of drawing attention. Truth be told, it's often well-earned.

Lets take a closer look at four of the companies that inched their payouts higher this past week.

Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) is giving its shareholding shoppers a little more spending money. Next month's dividend will go from $0.125 a share to $0.175 a share. The specialty retailer isn't just splitting pennies here. That 40% hike ups the stock's yield to 1.2%. We took a closer look at both sides of the trendy retailer in a Fool Duel earlier this month. Whatever the company's future, the dividend boost ensures that investors won't be entering the back-to-school season with empty pockets.

Wachovia (NYSE:WB) also beefed up its yield. Shareowners will now receive $0.51 per share every three months. That's a nickel better than the company had been paying out before. Banks tend to be pretty generous income producers. While they don't yield as high as utilities and real estate investment trusts, they usually compensate with stronger growth.

Aldila (NASDAQ:ALDA) landed on the green as well. The maker of graphite golf shafts whacked its dividend for distance, going from $0.10 to $0.15 a share. That translates into an impressive 2.4% yield. Aldila isn't alone in its field. Fortune Brands (NYSE:FO) and oversized club maker Callaway Golf (NYSE:ELY) are currently yielding 1.7% and 1.8%, respectively. However, Aldila has been on a roll lately. Its stock has more than doubled over the past year -- and it's earned those gains, too. Last month, the company's quarterly profits rose by 68% on a 53% surge in sales.

Gentex (NASDAQ:GNTX) isn't the kind of company you expect to brighten your day. We're talking literally, of course, because the company specializes in high-tech rearview mirrors that dim automatically. That's why there may be some irony in the company shining kindly on its shareholders' pockets. Its quarterly payout rose a half-penny to $0.09 a share.

Subscribers to our Motley Fool Income Investor newsletter can appreciate companies sending more and more money to their investors. Analyst Mathew Emmert has often singled out stocks that are committed to growing their distributions.

Want to see what Mathew's liking these days? Go ahead and give his newsletter service a shot with a 30-day trial subscription. Who knows? Maybe the next thing to get hiked will be your interest.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz pays attention to yield signs. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.