Dividend hikes are all the rage these days. This past quarter, 483 companies saw fit to grow their shareholder distributions, indicating that these firms are comfortable enough in their outlook to ease up on their greenbacks.

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

Let's start with Senior Housing Properties (NYSE:SNH). At this real estate investment trust, which specializes in snapping up senior living facilities, its tenants aren't the only ones aging well. The company's dividend is inching up by a penny, to $0.33 per share. Income-hungry investors flock to REITs, and this one is now brandishing a beefy 7.3% yield.

Across the Atlantic, U.K. music superstore HMV (OTC BB: HMVMF.PK) may be struggling (much like its U.S. brethren), but it will still hike its dividend by 9%. Same-store sales were off 10% in HMV's latest quarter, with comps down a whopping 17% in the company's U.K. and Irish stores. The company's bookstore business held up a little better, but still dipped. That may not seem like the ideal climate for a higher payout, but it may be the appropriate tactic to keep many HMV shareholders from bailing on the company.

National City (NYSE:NCC) was another hiker. The Cleveland-based bank will be deposing a few extra pennies in its shareholders' pockets. National City's quarterly payout will now grow from $0.37 to $0.39 a share.

Lastly, we have Hospitality Properties (NYSE:HPT). No, this isn't a younger cousin of Senior Housing Properties, though both are REITs. Hospitality Properties acquires established hotels, then leases them back to the operators. It frees up funds for the operator and lets Hospitality Properties provide a healthy stream of somewhat predictable income for its investors.

Hospitality Properties is only inching its dividend from $0.73 to $0.74 a share, but it's yet another reason why stocks may be more lucrative vehicles than fixed-rate bonds for income investors. Naturally, the equity market is riskier, but you do have the upside of higher payouts.

National City is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. Subscribers to our Income Investor newsletter can appreciate companies that send 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 to 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.