Don't you just love the smell of freshly raised dividends in the morning? That's your reward for being a patient investor. When a company decides to up its payout, it means more than just some extra coins for your pocket. It's a signal that the company feels comfortable enough in its outlook to part with a little more of its greenery. Those are stocks worth investigating a little closer.

So let's take a look at four of the companies that inched their payouts higher this past week.

McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) investors were far from the Grimace when the world's leading restaurant chain upped its annual distribution. Shareholders will now be getting $0.67 a share, a 22% improvement over last year's $0.55 dividend. No, it's still not enough to buy something off the chain's dollar menu, but it's a fair sign that the 30,000-unit giant is feeling pretty good about its future prospects. The company also announced that it would be spinning off a minority stake in its fast-growing Chipotle concept.

Another food-related company that eased up on its purse strings was Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI). The company behind Olive Garden and Red Lobster served income investors a treat by boosting its semi-annual dividend from $0.04 a share to a whopping $0.20. That move transformed the stock's yield from 0.3% to 1.3% overnight. It was made possible by the company's spectacular June quarter, as earnings rose 20% higher on a 10% uptick in sales.

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) was another hiker. Its quarterly dividend was bumped up from a quarter to $0.30 per share. You could have seen this one coming, right? We're living in militant times, with big chunks of the country's budget earmarked for defense spending. The defense contractors should be raking it in, right? Well, the charts tell a different story. Companies like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) find their shares trading lower today than they did three years ago. Then again, General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) and Boeing (NYSE:BA) are both trading comfortably higher.

All four defense contractors have yields of at least 1.3%. With Lockheed's hike, it becomes the top dog in that regard, paying investors 2% of their share price in dividends.

Our last payout booster is Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB). The company is inching its quarterly dividend checks higher by a penny per share to $0.18. Like Darden, Campbell is also coming off a margin-widening quarter that had sales rising by a modest 5% along with a hearty 28% spike in profitability. The company's alphabet soup may not come with numbers, but Campbell knows how to devour them when it has to.

Subscribers to our Income Investor newsletter can appreciate companies that are giving more and more money back 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'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 that will 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. 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 .