Who doesn't like more money? Investors certainly welcome dividend hikes, but the news is even better than that. Why? Well, such hikes are usually indicative of a company whose fundamentals are improving to a point where the company has extra leeway to distribute more money to its shareholders.

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

We'll start with Inside Value pick Home Depot (NYSE:HD). Those orange aprons will be feeling pretty heavy now that the home-improvement superstore chain spiked its dividend 50% higher. Investors will now be receiving $0.15 a share every three months. In this particular case, it's not that Home Depot's fundamentals are 50% brighter. This is simply a former Wall Street shooting star realizing that it needs to appeal to income investors now that its once-heady growth rates have started to level off.

No, this doesn't mean that growth at Home Depot is a thing of the past. Even though Home Depot has been challenged by Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) in many markets, the country's leading chain continues to grow. This is the sixth time that Home Depot has increased its dividend rate over the past five years.

What's black and white and hiked all over? The Washington Post (NYSE:WPO). The publishing giant stopped the presses long enough to inch up its quarterly dividend by a dime to $1.95 a share. Yes, $7.80 per share in payouts sounds like a lot, but given that the media empire's shares trade for $778 a stub, we're talking about just a 1% yield.

Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) was another hiker. The world's leading oil-field specialist will be paying shareholders $0.25 a share this quarter, an improvement over the $0.21 payout it issued over the four quarters last year. The company is certainly good for it: On Friday, Schlumberger announced that quarterly profits had doubled over last year's showing. Yes, the uptick in oil prices has been good for the company. Investors may want to save some of that extra money for the next time they fuel up at the pump.

Then we have Intel (NASDAQ:INTC). The leading maker of PC chips has piqued the market's interest after its deal to power the new line of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) computers. The "Intel Inside" company will now be paying out $0.10-per-share dividends in quarterly installments, 25% higher than its previous distributions.

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'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. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.