Dividends always come in handy. But when those distributions grow to more than a handful, they become more than just a pocket-change bonus. Then you're dealing with companies that are signaling that they feel comfortable in their outlook.

Let's take a closer look at four of the companies that decided to share more of their greenery this past week.

Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL) upgraded its shareholders to a higher deck. The cruise-line operator will now be paying out $0.15 per share every three months. That's two pennies ahead of its earlier policy. Over the summer, Royal Caribbean cruised past its June-quarter profit targets as consumers were willing to spend more on a floating vacation.

Royal Caribbean does feel the pinch on the fuel front, since its fleet obviously isn't running on sails. However, a 37% spike in fuel prices over the past year hasn't hurt the cruise line terribly, since that line item runs at just 7% of the operator's sales. So even with gas prices soaring, taking a cruise just seems to make sense for a vacation idea these days.

Another travel-related company that eased up on its purse strings was Choice Hotels (NYSE:CHH). The hotel franchisor, with more than 5,000 budget-minded properties under brands including Comfort Inn and Econo Lodge, used to pay a quarterly dividend per share of $0.225. Starting next month, the payout will be $0.26 a share. Choice Hotels has always been an intriguing part of the hospitality industry. The company sports fatter margins than others in the lodging space, like Hilton (NYSE:HLT) or Starwood (NASDAQ:HOT). That's because, as a franchisor, it is able to collect royalties without the burdensome overhead of running the costly hotels.

Truck maker Paccar (NASDAQ:PCAR) kept its dividend motoring as well. Investors will be getting a quarter per share every quarter now that the company has raised its dividend by four pennies. That props the stock's yield up to 1.4%. The shares were recommended over the summer in Motley Fool Stock Advisor, and one can only imagine how sweet it would have been if the newsletter service had been around to scoop up some Paccard two decades ago. Since 1986, Paccar is roughly a 150-bagger. Yes, 150.

Our last hike is Brady (NYSE:BRC). Just because the company makes exit signs doesn't mean investors should be heading for them. Giving the pockets of shareholders a Brady bunch, the company is raising its quarterly dividend from $0.11 a share to $0.13.

Subscribers to our Income Investor newsletter can appreciate the companies that are sending more and more money to their investors. Analyst Mathew Emmert has often singled out companies that are committed to growing their distributions with market-thumping results.

Want to see what Mathew likes these days? Go ahead and give his newsletter service a shot with a 30-day trial subscription. Who knows? Maybe the next thing that will get raised 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 the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.