I love to kick off the new trading week by taking a quick peek at companies that have just raised 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 Fool's Income Investor newsletter service can certainly appreciate that kind of thinking. So let's take a closer look at four of the companies that inched their payouts higher over the past week.

Let's start with Altria (NYSE:MO). The company that most still remember as Philip Morris knows how to smoke out a higher yield. An 8.7% increase in its quarterly rate to $0.75 per share now has the tobacco giant yielding 4.3%. Even if you have your personal beefs with Altria's Marlboro Man, what you do with that fatter check is your business.

Meanwhile, Deere (NYSE:DE) is helping things grow in more places than just the farm fields. The agricultural-machinery giant knows how to harvest dividends, too. Deere's quarterly distributions are climbing 14% to $0.50 per share. This is the fifth time the company has propped up its payout since early 2004.

And who moved Kraft's (NYSE:KFT) cheese? You'll find it just a little higher than where it used to be, after an 8% dividend boost. Shareholders of the Income Investor recommendation will now be getting $0.27 a share every three months.

Finally, we have Harris (NYSE:HRS) coming through again. The government and commercial IT specialist is delivering its sixth consecutive annual payout hike. This one's a biggie -- 36% higher to $0.15 per share on a quarterly basis.

Income Investor subscribers can appreciate the companies that send more and more money to their investors. The service seeks out companies that are committed to growing their distributions with market-thumping results.

Want to see what's being recommended these days? Go ahead and give Income Investor a shot with a 30-day trial subscription. Who knows? Maybe the next thing to get raised 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.