Maybe you're sick of eating leftovers by now. The turkey. The cranberry relish. The dividends. Yes, the dividends. For way too many investors, quarterly disbursements feel like corporate leftovers. However, that couldn't be further from the truth. They are a statement of financial fortitude. And when a company hikes its dividend rate, it's a sign that that company feels confident about its profit-generating potential in the future.

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 Hormel (NYSE:HRL). The canned foodstuffs giant declared a quarterly dividend of $0.15 a share. Few shareholders will notice that their checks are being cut to the tune of a mere penny per share more, but such hikes are a rich part of the Hormel tradition. The company has increased its dividend for 41 consecutive years.

Another company giving its investors a little more to chew on is J&J Snack Foods (NASDAQ:JJSF). The company behind Icee frozen beverages, Superpretzel soft pretzels, and Tio Pepe's churros is growing its payout rate by 13%. Investors will now be on the receiving end of $0.085 a share in quarterly dividends.

LCA-Vision (NASDAQ:LCAV) was another hiker. The company behind the LasikPlus vision correction centers saw fit to boost its distribution by 50% to $0.18 a share. Even though LCA didn't even start paying out quarterly dividends until the summer of 2004, it has gone on to raise its rate three times already. The new distributions pump up the company's yield to an eye-popping 2%. Hopefully, they will also reverse the negative sentiment that began swirling around LCA when it lowered its near-term guidance last month.

Then we have Lancaster Colony (NASDAQ:LANC), burning the wick at both ends. The maker of candle products, specialty foods, and automotive products bumped up its quarterly payout by a penny to $0.27 a share. If you were impressed by Hormel's streak of perpetually loftier distributions, consider that Lancaster has now upped its dividends for 44 straight years.

Subscribers to the Income Investor newsletter can appreciate the companies sending more and more money to their investors. The newsletter singles out companies that are committed to growing their distributions with market-thumping results.

Want to see what is being recommended these days? Go ahead and give the 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 in this story. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.The Fool has a disclosure policy.