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 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.

We can start with Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT). The world's largest retailer did what it has done every single year since initiating a payout policy in 1975: It bumped up its dividend. Shareholders will now be receiving $0.22 a share every three months. That's a healthy 31% boost for a stock that has dipped into value-hunting camp lately. In fact, it's an active Inside Value newsletter recommendation.

Checking in with a 31% distribution upgrade is Brown Shoe (NYSE:BWS). The company behind the Famous Footwear superstore concept, the Shoes.com online storefront, and several shoe lines of its own now sports a quarterly dividend rate of $0.105 per quarter.

Synovus (NYSE:SNV) was another hiker. Its payout is inching a penny per share higher to $0.205 per quarter. The financial-services giant is more than just a banking specialist. It also owns an 81% stake in electronic-payment-processing pioneer Total Systems Services (NYSE:TSS).

Then we have Technology Investment Capital (NASDAQ:TICC). The funding provider for tech-based upstarts raised its dividend by 6% to $0.36. Is lending a hand to up-and-coming technology companies risky? You bet, but Technology Investment Capital also has them paying a weighted average interest rate of 12.7% on those borrowed greenbacks, with the occasional equity kicker. 

Subscribers to the Income Investor newsletter can appreciate the companies sending more and more money to their investors. The service 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.