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's 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'll start with Tesoro (NYSE:TSO). The oil refiner and retailer is doubling its dividend next month, after a 2-for-1 stock split. In other words, investors will still be getting their $0.10 per share quarterly payout, despite owning twice as many shares. Tesoro is Spanish for treasure, and that's pretty much what yield-hungry shareholders have found in a company that's in the right place at the right time.

Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) is a company that tills the soil for "tesoro" in its more conventional state. The low-cost gold producer is bumping its semiannual dividend 36% higher, to $0.15 a share. Precious metals aren't typically considered an income-producing investment. However, that's not the case with mining stocks, where companies like Rio Tinto (NYSE:RTP) are packing yields as high as 2%.

Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) is a biker hiker. The top dog in motorcycle brands revved up its dividend during last week's annual meeting. The 19% boost sets the company's new quarterly payout at $0.25 a share.

Lastly, we have Herman Miller (NASDAQ:MLHR). The office furniture specialist may have cursed us with the creation of the cubicle, but it's also inspiring investors with a 10% spike in its quarterly distributions. Shareowners will now receive $0.088 per share every three months. It's an encouraging sign to see Herman Miller do so, two months after peer Steelcase (NYSE:SCS) raised its own dividend rate. If office furniture companies are freeing up more of their greenery, it's a good sign that corporate orders are trickling in. That's a reasonably positive indicator for the state of the economy.

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

Want to see what's 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 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.