Few will argue that dividends can make you stinking rich unless you are stinking rich to begin with. However, dividend-paying companies that hike their distribution rates may be sending out a message that can also send those shares higher. The message is that good things are happening and that the future appears bright. Why else would a company be parting with more of its greenery? 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 Carpenter Technology (NYSE:CRS). The maker of specialty alloys and other engineered products gave its dividend a healthy 50% boost. Shareholders will now be receiving quarterly checks in the amount of $0.225 a share.

According to the company, Carpenter's shift towards higher-value products and an improving cost structure is giving it the cash flow-generating flexibility to jack up its dividend.

Printronix (NASDAQ:PTNX) will also be printing out bigger checks. The new payout of a dime a share is a 43% improvement over the previous $0.07 a share policy. More pocket change isn't the only reason to embrace Printronix. The printing solutions specialist may stand to play a more prominent role in the RFID revolution as companies move towards printing out radio frequency identification labels to improve inventory control.

Berry Petroleum (NYSE:BRY) was another hiker. What do you do when you're in the bubbling hot sector of oil and gas exploitation? The company is putting its healthier inflow to good use by boosting its capital budget as well as rewarding its investors. This is the fourth year in a row that the company has hiked its payout.

Berry's quarterly dividend is climbing 15% higher, to $0.075 a share. A special $0.02-a-share distribution will also be tacked on to next month's quarterly distribution. They may seem like just pennies, but it's good to see a company strike oil and then strike copper (as in copper pennies).

Then we have Wachovia (NYSE:WB) cracking open the bank for its shareowners. Yes, the former First Union remains an acquisitive financial institution. That doesn't mean that it will be holding back on its greenbacks to finance its buys. The bank's quarterly dividend is getting a 10% lift to $0.56 a share. That pumps up the stock's yield to a healthy 4% rate.

Subscribers to the 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. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.