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 over the past week.

We'll start with Hershey Foods (NYSE:HSY). The Pennsylvania company that hails from "the sweetest place on Earth" made its disbursements a little sweeter. Hershey's new quarterly dividend of $0.2975 per share is 10% higher than it used to be.

KLA-Tencor (NASDAQ:KLAC) is also willing to "chip" in a little more. The equipment provider for the cyclical semiconductor industry is pumping up its payout by 25%. Shareholders will now be getting $0.15 every three months for every share they own.

Then we have Sotheby's (NYSE:BID) bidding for attention. The old school auctioneer is raising its bidding card long enough to up its quarterly distribution ante by 50%. The new $0.15-per-share dividend is impressive when you consider what the company has been through. Financial challenges led the company to suspend its dividend for six years before resuming the practice last summer. It's good to see Sotheby's hiking again.

Next is SUPERVALU (NYSE:SVU). The grocery store chain is marking up its quarterly disbursements by half a penny to $0.17 per share. A lot of investors may be concerned with how supermarkets have to compete against warehouse clubs like Costco (NASDAQ:COST) or organic grocers like Wild Oats (NASDAQ:OATS), but SUPERVALU has consistently paid out a dividend for 60 years now.

Subscribers to the Income Investor newsletter can appreciate firms that send 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. Costco is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.