There's pocket change, and then there's a dividend payout. Granted, the amount may not seem like much, but the act of returning a piece of the profit pie to shareowners is an important decision for a company. It's even more impressive when a company is so encouraged about its future earnings power that it's willing to hike that rate. Readers of the Income Investor newsletter can certainly appreciate that kind of thinking.

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

We can start with Cohen & Steers (NYSE:CNS). You may be surprised to learn that the asset manager that specializes in real estate mutual funds is adding onto its dividend. The company's payout is rising 18% higher, to $0.13 per share every quarter. The increase comes as many fear that the housing market has temporarily peaked. Thankfully, the real estate investment trusts that Cohen & Steers prefers to watch over haven't been dealt the same kind of devastating blows as the leading homebuilders. Just days before last week's boost, Cohen & Steers reported that second-quarter profits before charges rose from $0.23 to $0.28 a share.

Carlisle (NYSE:CSL) also kept on trucking. The truck-parts specialist, which also dabbles in several construction-related areas, is increasing its quarterly dividend from $0.25 to $0.27 a share. Surprised? You shouldn't be. This is the 30th year in a row in which Carlisle has earmarked more money for its shareowners.

ServiceMaster (NYSE:SVM) was another hiker. The company behind TruGreen ChemLawn isn't just making lawns a little greener. Its investors will be rolling in a little more green after the company's 9% payout increase to $0.12 a share. Two years ago, the company's steady gains in fragmented businesses won it a nod as an official Income Investor newsletter pick.

Yes, ServiceMaster is also the company behind pest-control giant Terminix. I could have very well claimed that the company was exterminating its old dividend, but I didn't want to "bug" you with that.

Then we have Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (NYSE:RBA), bidding for attention with a 17% hike to $0.21 a share. The company is a leader in industrial equipment auctions, which has proven to be an all-weather niche; distressed wares at attractive prices never seem to go out of fashion.

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 theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.