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 is easing up on its pocketbook probably has improving fundamentals to back up that generosity.

Readers of the Motley Fool Income Investor newsletter can certainly appreciate that kind of thinking. Let's take a closer look at four companies that inched their payouts higher over the past week.

Let's start with General Electric (NYSE:GE). The company that brings good things to life brightened the pocket prospects of its shareholders. The company's new quarterly distribution rate of $0.31 a share is 11% higher than the old $0.28-per-share rate. The conglomerate has now boosted its yield in each of the past 32 years.

Then we have mutual fund giant T. Rowe Price (NASDAQ:TROW) on the move. It bumped its quarterly payouts by 41% to $0.24 a share. Providing investor-friendly no-load mutual funds has served T. Rowe Price well over the years. The company's consistent growth has granted it the luxury of 21 consecutive years of higher dividends.

State Street (NYSE:STT) is another hiker. Shareholders of the institutional investing enabler are on the receiving end of $0.23 a share in disbursements every three months. State Street's increases may come in penny-per-share lumps, but the company has historically propped up its rate every six months. Yes, State Street has declared a dozen dividend hikes over the past six years.

Finally, we have AT&T (NASDAQ:T) ringing loud and clear. A 13% hike on its quarterly dividend -- the largest increase in its history -- is being declared as part of a plan that includes an ambitious share repurchase.

AT&T's new yield of 3.8% matches what Verizon (NYSE:VZ) is returning to its investors and compares favorably to other telco heavies, like Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) at 0.7%. AT&T has now propped up its dividends in each of the past 24 years.

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 is 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.

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Sprint is an Inside Value recommendation.

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 part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.