I love to kick off the trading week by taking a quick peek at companies that have just raised their dividends. A company 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.

Emerson Electric (NYSE:EMR), a diversified conglomerate that toils away in eight specialties, boosted its quarterly dividend 14% to $0.30 per share. With sales and earnings climbing 11% and 20%, respectively, in its latest quarter, management clearly feels it can afford to be more generous with the stockholders.

Strayer (NASDAQ:STRA) also came through, with a 20% increase in its disbursements. Investors will now be on the receiving end of $0.375 per share every three months. The for-profit education company also has a special one-time $2 per-share dividend to mail out in two months.

Postsecondary education has become a hot sector as the need for a retooled workplace becomes apparent with every passing phase of the tech revolution. Even these iffy economic times are working out well for the industry, with potential hires hitting the books to make them stand out. How can you tell? It's not just Strayer that is freeing up its greenbacks.

DeVry (NYSE:DV) increased its payout by 20%, too. The company behind DeVry University is ramping up its semi-annual rate to $0.06 a share.

Don't expect it to be contagious, because rivals like Apollo (NASDAQ:APOL), Corinthian (NASDAQ:COCO), and Career Education (NASDAQ:CECO) don't pay out dividends and are unlikely to start anytime soon. However, the developments at Strayer and DeVry can be read as encouraging for the sector's near-term outlook.

Finally, we have AmerisourceBergen (NYSE:ABC). The drug distributor's payout is climbing 50%, with investors now getting $0.075 a share from the company with the alphabetical ticker symbol every three months. ABC? That's as easy as 1-2-3.

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 free 30-day trial. 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. The Fool has a disclosure policy.