I love to kick off the new trading week by taking a quick peek at companies that have just raised their dividends. A company that's easing up on its pocketbook probably has improving fundamentals to back up that generosity.

Readers of the Income Investor newsletter service 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 Packaging Corporation of America (NYSE:PKG). The maker of container board and corrugated packaging materials won't box in its investors with the same old payout. The company boosted its quarterly disbursements by 20% to $0.30 a share.

It paired that raise with a $150 million share-repurchase plan that will hack away at the number of shares outstanding over the next 18 months. Higher volume and pricing helped prop up profits, so why not let shareholders in on the fun? 

Carnival (NYSE:CCL) also let its yield sail higher. The cruise-ship giant raised its quarterly dividend by 14% to $0.40 per share. The move makes sense, since the industry continues to grow as cruise lines reach out to younger travelers at more ports.

With plans to add 18 ships over the next four years, Carnival is looking to grow its capacity by 27%. Rivals Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL) and NCL are also expanding their fleets. As long as they're all keeping up with traveler demand, it should be good for the cruise lines and even better for a the likes of Steiner Leisure (NASDAQ:STNR), which runs the popular spas on most of the newer vessels in the industry.

VF (NYSE:VFC) is another dividend booster. The branded-apparel maker came through with a 5% increase. Shareholders of the Income Investor-recommended stock will now be receiving $0.58 every three months for every share they own.

Finally, we have Met-Pro (NYSE:MPR). The globally diversified environmental conglomerate upped the ante on its quarterly distributions, up almost 9% to $0.055 a share.

Subscribers to the Income Investor newsletter service appreciate the companies that send more and more money to their investors. The service 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 service a shot with a 30-day trial subscription. Who knows? Maybe the next thing to get raised will be your interest.

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.