Foolish investors should never take dividends for granted. Even now, as money-market yields are soaring -- and often making stocks' quarterly payouts look tiny in comparison -- the distributions matter. They are often a great indicator of how a company is doing, especially firms that are pumping up their dividends on the basis of heartier fundamentals. Here's a closer look at four of the companies that inched their payouts higher this past week.
Let's start with Best Buy
The higher dividend makes sense. Best Buy is stocking the toys that everyone wants, like iPods and HD-ready television sets. Things are likely to only get better in the coming months, as the new Nintendo and PlayStation systems hit the market in the fall and the highly anticipated Windows Vista operating system fuels a wave of PC upgrades.
Also giving a dime about its investors, Winnebago
Medtronic tries to pay 20% of its earnings back to its shareowners in the form of dividends. It's a tribute to the company's consistency that Medtronic has been able to do exactly that, and raise its dividend, every single year since 1978.
Finally, we have bebe stores
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? 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 theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.