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 CBRL Group (NASDAQ:CBRL). The company, which will stuff your roadside cravings for chicken fried steaks and peach cobblers through its Cracker Barrel Old Country Store chain, is pouring even thicker dividend gravy. Shareholders will now be getting $0.18 per share every three months, a healthy improvement over its now-obsolete $0.14 per-share quarterly disbursements.

CBRL is also stepping up its share repurchases, joining a welcome trend from companies like CBS (NYSE:CBS), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), and Nucor (NYSE:NUE) that are returning money to their stakeholders in the form of both higher dividends and ambitious buybacks.

Putting its money where its patient's mouth is, DENTSPLY (NASDAQ:XRAY) is boosting its quarterly payout by 12% to $0.045 a share. Dentsply provides dentists with office supplies, including dental X-ray equipment (hence, the name and the ticker symbol).

Specialty apparel retailer The Buckle (NYSE:BKE) is unbuckling its pocketbook long enough to give its quarterly dividend a 25% boost. It's nice to know that there's money to be made in denim, footwear, and fashionable accessories. Buckle shareholders will now be on the receiving end of $0.25 per-share quarterly checks, or a whole buck on an annual basis.

Finally, we have Corn Products International (NYSE:CPO) popping its payout higher. Corn products are all the rage -- whether it's high fructose corn syrup or ethanol -- and the corn refiner is cashing in. The company's new quarterly dividend of $0.11 per share is a 22% improvement over last quarter's rate.

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'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 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, save for CBRL Group. 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.