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 easing up on its pocketbook 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 this past week.

Let's start with Avon Products (NYSE:AVP). The cosmetics specialist can go easy on the blush. It is raising its quarterly dividend by 6% to $0.185 per share. The company may be in the middle of a turnaround, and a fatter yield is one way to turn heads.

Then we have Microchip Technology (NASDAQ:MCHP). Some companies hike their dividend rates annually. How about one that is raising the stakes every three months? Since 2003, Microchip has been rewarded investors with sequential increases in each and every single quarter.

The company's latest boost -- from $0.25 to $0.265 a share -- may not seem like much. However, that is based on its payout policy three months ago. Go back a year to when the dividend was $0.19 a share, and you will find that the company has propped up its dividend 39.5% higher over the past year.

Media General (NYSE:MEG) was another hiker. Yes, running newspapers and television stations may seem like a tough way to turn a buck these days, but don't bury Media General just yet. The company is coming off a healthy quarter with 26% in profit growth, and it's sharing the wealth with its shareowners. Media General is propping up its quarterly payout by a penny to $0.23 per share.

Then we have Lehman Brothers (NYSE:LEH). Unlike Media General's turf, there is no surprise behind an investment banker rolling in more dough these days. Lehman's 25% boost to its dividend -- to $0.15 a share every three months -- is still less than it is capable of reasonably paying. However, Lehman also announced an ambitious share buyback that will swallow down as many as 100 million shares outstanding. Now that's putting your money where your mouth is!

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 the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.