I love to kick off the new trading week by taking a quick peek at companies that have just hiked their dividends. It's not just about the money. A company that is loosening its purse strings probably has improving fundamentals to back up that generosity.

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 in recent weeks.

We can start with Atlantic Coast Federal (NASDAQ:ACFC). The holding company for Atlantic Coast Bank bumped up its quarterly payout by a penny to $0.12 a share. The company certainly has the leeway to go even higher next year, as earnings through the first three quarters of 2006 clocked in 24% higher.

First of Long Island (NASDAQ:FLIC) was another banker facilitating a larger dividend withdrawal. The company behind the First National Bank of Long Island propped up its semi-annual dividend by a dime per share to $0.55.

Another company flowing freely is York Water (NASDAQ:YORW). Next month, investors will be getting a quarterly payout of $0.118 a share. That may be simply a 5% improvement over the pervious year's rate, but it's also the tenth year in a row that the company has hiked its dividend. If you think that streak is impressive, consider that the company has also paid 544 uninterrupted dividends. Yes, the Pennsylvanian water company has been around that long -- since 1816, for those playing at home.

Then we have First United (NASDAQ:FUNC). The holding company for First United Bank & Trust edged up its quarterly distribution by half a penny to $0.195 a share. The hike should feel pretty familiar to shareholders since First United has boosted its payout by the same rate during every single year on this side of the millennium.

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 it's recommending these days? Give the 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 in this story. He 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.