There's something special about a company increasing its dividend. It's not just more money in the pockets of shareholders. It's also a sign that a company feels upbeat enough to go easy on the purse strings. If it's a trend that continues, the improving fundamentals may very well send the shares higher.

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

Paychex (NASDAQ:PAYX) knows a thing or two about fatter paychecks. The payroll specialist hiked its quarterly dividend from $0.13 per share to a heartier $0.16 a share. The company certainly had the leeway to go through with the upgrade. Two weeks earlier, Paychex had posted stellar fiscal first-quarter results with profits soaring 31% higher on a 17% uptick in revenue. Paychex doesn't seem to garner a whole lot of attention in investing circles, but it should. The company's steady and consistent growth over the years has certainly rewarded its believers.

Speedway Motorsports (NYSE:TRK) also revved up its payout. The Performance Racing Network owner of several auto-racing venues as well as a maker of speedway collectibles is growing its annual distribution by a penny to $0.32 per share. This is the fourth consecutive year that the company has raised its dividend.

Then we have Oil-Dri (NYSE:ODC), which earns the cat's meow with a hike of its own. The kitty litter maker behind the Jonny Cat and Cat's Pride labels will be paying shareholders $0.12 a quarter. That's just a cent higher than its previous payout, but the company also initiated a share buyback -- in essence putting its excess cash to work on two different fronts.

Industrial parts distributor Applied Industry Tech (NYSE:AIT) was another hiker. The company's quarterly dividend is getting a 25% boost to $0.15 a share. If good results continue, don't expect Applied to sit on that dividend rate for too long. This past fiscal year the company inched its payout higher twice.

Subscribers to our Income Investor newsletter appreciate 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 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 theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.