Payouts can be sweet. Readers of the Motley Fool Income Investor newsletter can appreciate companies with strong fundamentals and nice yields that are itching to go higher. Companies don't increase their dividends unless they feel confident about their growth. It's a lesson worth learning even for investors who couldn't care less about the quarterly pocket change.

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

We can start with Time Warner (NYSE:TWX). Going from a $0.05 per-share quarterly dividend to $0.055 may not seem like much. Splitting nickels? Perhaps, but this is still a worthy 10% increase. It's also a good sign for a company that wasn't even paying a dividend until it initiated the practice in third quarter of last year. The timely announcement hints at a practice that may continue every year if the company's financials hold up.

That's the rub. Time Warner's shares have been stuck in the teens longer than some boy bands. Investors can't seem to appreciate the company's core studio and broadcasting businesses or cope with the perpetual declines in AOL's dial-up realm. So let's see whether this meandering Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation is actually telling us something significant with this half-penny hike. It may have a more upbeat outlook than the market, and that spells opportunity if the company's vision proves true.

Another surprising hiker to those who don't know the company very well is Gannett (NYSE:GCI). Is anyone still reading the daily newspaper in these Internet-convenient days? The company behind USA Today will be growing its quarterly dividend from $0.29 a share to $0.31 a share.

Outlandish behavior in a battered sector? Not really. Gannett has made dividend hikes a regular feature for its shareholders. The company has announced higher payouts 38 times since it started paying them out 39 years ago. It's also coupling last week's increase with an ambitious share buyback. How's that for some good news coming out of the news specialist?

Then we have Station Casinos (NYSE:STN) and Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD). Both companies are gambling on higher dividends to win back investors. Boyd posted a poor quarter last week and announced that it was selling its South Coast property in Las Vegas as its shares hit a 52-week low. Station Casinos also doesn't appear to be in a position to boost its yield the way that long-term debt has skyrocketed at the company over the past year.

Boyd and Station Casinos are now yielding 1.6% and 2.1%, respectively. It doesn't seem like much, but it's not supposed to. These companies are trying to send a bigger message to Wall Street. It's not much of a gamble, even if gambling is what they know best.

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.

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.