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

Let's start with Embarq (NYSE: EQ). The telco giant connected with collectors by giving its quarterly disbursements a 10% boost. Stockholders will now receive $0.6875 every three months for each share they own.

Elsewhere, Cleveland-Cliffs (NYSE: CLF) is mining for more. The producer of iron ore pellets and metallurgical coal came through with a 40% spike in its payouts. The company's new quarterly dividend of $0.175 a share marks the third time that Cleveland-Cliffs has propped up its yield since 2005. Things have been going pretty well in the mining sector. Freeport McMoran (NYSE: FCX) made it into this column two weeks ago with a similar 40% surge.

Mercantile Bank (Nasdaq: MBWM) is another hiker. The Michigan-based banker's new quarterly dividend of $0.15 a share is just a penny per share more than the old rate, but it's a notable event. Several financial players like National City (NYSE: NCC) and Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM) have actually reduced their yields in recent weeks.

Finally, Robbins & Myers (NYSE: RBN) announced a dividend increase ahead of a 2-for-1 stock split. The supplier of engineered equipment and systems will now pay investors $0.075 every three months, a 15% upgrade from last year's rate.

Subscribers to Income Investor can appreciate companies that send more and more money to their investors. The newsletter singles out corporations committed to growing their distributions -- including picks National City and Washington Mutual -- with market-thumping results.

Want to see what advisors James Early and Andy Cross recommended these days? Give the newsletter service a shot with a 30-day trial subscription. Who knows? Maybe the next thing to 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's disclosure policy pays its own sort of dividends.