Dividend announcements are usually ho-hum fare. That is, of course, as long as the company isn't actually increasing the amount of its payout. That kind of flexibility is often a great indicator of good things taking place at a company.

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

Shall we begin with Circuit City (NYSE:CC)? A week after rival Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) upped the ante, the consumer electronics superstore chain followed suit with a hike of its own. Circuit City shareholders will now be getting $0.04 a share in quarterly distributions, more than twice the old $0.0175 payout.

It may not add up to much. The stock's new yield of 0.6% isn't going to find income investors flocking to the shares. However, it does help cement Circuit City's turnaround in retail.

Also banking on fatter checks, Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) is raising its quarterly rate from $0.52 a share to $0.56 a share. With $492 billion in assets, the financial services giant is no slouch. This marks the 19th straight year in which Wells Fargo has increased its dividend. The company also announced a stock split and an ambitious share buyback.

General Mills (NYSE:GIS) was another hiker. The breakfast cereal juggernaut is only growing its dividend by a mere penny per share to $0.35. Not impressed? Well, this also happens to be the third time that the company has announced a higher payout since last summer! Yes, General Mills is on a roll, despite the lackluster growth that one should expect in the steady consumer foods business.

Then we have Shaw Communications (NYSE:SJR). The provider of cable, broadband Internet, and other telco services in Canada declared a higher monthly dividend rate. Investors of the non-voting shares will now be getting $0.05 a share every passing month, an 11% improvement over its earlier payout. You can't blame the company for its generosity. Shaw's earnings have tripled through the first nine months of fiscal 2006.

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'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. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.