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 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 few trading days.

Let's start with Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY). The drugmaker came through with an 11% boost to its quarterly distributions. It's the first hike by the company in six years. Now paying $0.31 a share every three months, Bristol-Myers Squibb is yielding a hefty 4.6%. Big Pharma is so out of favor that Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) has a monster yield of 5.6% at the moment.

Then we have mutual fund darling Freeport McMoRan (NYSE:FCX) mining for more. The copper king gets the metal medal with a 40% increase in its rate. The new $0.4375-a-share quarterly rate is just another treat for investors who have seen their shares soar more than sixfold over the past six years. Mining for copper and gold can be pretty lucrative when the commodity prices remain buoyant.

Kayne Anderson (NYSE:KED) is another hiker. The closed-end fund specializing in squeezing income out of energy sector investments is bumping up its dividend by 1%, to $0.41 a share.

Finally, we have Commercial Metals (NYSE:CMC) putting the pedal to the metal. The company's new $0.12-a-share rate is 33% higher than the old payout. Investors must be getting used to this, since Commercial Metals has bumped up its dividend four times over the past two years.

Subscribers to the Motley Fool 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 free 30-day trial subscription. Who knows? Maybe the next thing that will get hiked will be your interest.

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Pfizer 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's disclosure policy never gets blisters when it goes hiking.