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 increased their payouts this past week.

We'll start with hardware giant Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) tossing its shareholders a softball. Despite the recent slowdown at the home improvement superstore chains, Lowe's declared a 60% spike in its dividend rate before Friday's annual shareholders meeting. Investors will now receive a $0.08 per-share check every three months. Lowe's has been paying steady dividends since going public in 1961. But the hikes have been substantial lately: Since 2003, the company's increases have averaged 46% annually.

Parcels aren't the only things that FedEx (NYSE:FDX) delivers; the Stock Advisor recommendation has been delivering higher payouts, too. FedEx is boosting its quarterly dividend by 11% to $0.10 per share. It has beefed up its distributions five times over the past four years.

Ark builders have been known to save up for a rainy day, but Ark Restaurants (NASDAQ:ARKR) would rather share the wealth. The company, which operates several original concepts, will improve its quarterly disbursements by 26%. Restaurant stocks aren't typically seen as high-yielding investments, but the new $0.44 per-share rate gives the stock a meaty 5% yield. The only other pure casual dining chain with a higher payout is Star Buffet (NASDAQ:STRZ), with 7.6%. 

The last hiker that we'll be looking at is Clorox (NYSE:CLX). The company that makes things like bleach products, kitty litter, and barbecue sauces increased its distributions by 29%. Shareholders will now be getting $0.40 per share every three months.

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. 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.