Who doesn't want more money? Many investors enjoy dividend hikes because they translate into more pocket change. OK, the taxman doesn't mind that, either. However, a higher payout often means that the company's fundamentals are improving to the point where it feels comfortable in sharing more of the wealth with its owners.

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

AT&T (NYSE:T) phoned in with a higher dividend. Sure, going from $0.3225 to $0.3325 per share every quarter may not seem like much, but after the challenges the company has faced, this is a healthy indicator that it sees improvement in the future. With the recent pairing of AT&T with SBC, one of its very own Baby Bells, it will be interesting to see the synergies play themselves out, even as companies such as Vonage and Skype continue to undercut the monetary value in communication.

Housing bubble? Real estate developers ready to drop? Don't go telling that to KB Home (NYSE:KBH). The homebuilder is raising its dividend by 33% next year, paying shareholders $0.25 a share every quarter starting in February. Most of the developers are still reporting pretty good numbers, but their shares have been trading lower in recent months as investors fret that the housing boom is over. It certainly doesn't help when companies like Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) issue guarded outlooks after a great deal of insider selling. However, KB Home is doing its part to stand out. Back in October, it announced a real estate project where it was teaming up with former Stock Advisor recommendation Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (NYSE:MSO) to build a new suburban housing development. It remains to be seen how KB Home will fare if mortgage rates continue to rise, testing homebuilder pricing flexibility, but at least shareholders will now be getting richer rewards as they see the cycle through.

Allegheny Technologies (NYSE:ATI) was another hiker. The titanium specialist grew its quarterly dividend from $0.06 per share to a full dime. That's a hearty 67% increase for the specialty metals maker. Before you start thinking that Allegheny's fatter dividend checks will hamstring the company's ability to spend money to grow its business, it also announced that its capital expenditure plan for next year includes ramping up the capabilities of its titanium and alloy production.

Giving book lovers another penny for their thoughts, Borders (NYSE:BGP) upped its quarterly distribution per share from $0.09 to $0.10. Booksellers usually aren't fertile soil for income investors. Rival Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) didn't even start paying a dividend until August. However, the fact that Borders is trading near its 52-week lows and still propping up its payout bumps the yield to a relatively respectable 1.9%.

Subscribers to our Income Investor newsletter can appreciate the companies 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.

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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.