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 purse strings 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.

Let's start with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The world's largest software company wasn't even paying out dividends a few years ago. Now it's on the bandwagon, and digging deeper into its cash-rich coffers. Shareholders will now be getting $0.11 a share every three months, a 10% increase from its previous quarterly payout.

Turning the Filet-O-Fish into a Filet-O-Fortune, McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) is boosting its annual disbursements by 50% to $1.50 a share. The company's emphasis on healthier, pricier items has helped spearhead a turnaround at the country's largest restaurant chain. It's only fitting that investors warm up to Grimace, instead of sporting grimaces.

Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) investors are now in Hog Heaven. The company is revving up its quarterly distributions by 20%, to $0.30 per share. Earnings growth may have slowed lately for the company synonymous with motorcycles, but its healthy 2.1% yield will give income investors a surprisingly liquid ride, as long as Harley-Davidson keeps growing.

Finally, we have Choice Hotels (NYSE:CHH). Acquisitions may be the flavor of the moment at the high end of the hospitality spectrum, with chains like Hilton (NYSE:HLT) and Fairmont agreeing to generous buyout bids. But value players like Choice are doing just fine as independents. Choice's quarterly dividend is climbing 13% higher, to $0.17 a share. The hotelier has increased its payouts in each of the last four years.

Subscribers to the Income Investor newsletter can appreciate companies 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'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. Microsoft is an Inside Value recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.