I love to kick off the new 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 its 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.

We'll start with 3M (NYSE: MMM). The company behind Post-It Notes is leaving an adhesive reminder with its shareholders, too. Boosting its quarterly distribution by 4% to $0.50 a share, 3M has now increased its dividend for 50 consecutive years.

Then we have Ameristar Casinos (Nasdaq: ASCA) upping the ante. The company that watches over eight casinos is propping up its quarterly disbursements by half a cent to $0.105 a share. The new 2% yield may not be screaming "jackpot," but it's a better coin-return rate than larger rivals MGM Mirage (NYSE: MGM), Wynn (Nasdaq: WYNN), and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS), which don't pay out any kind of dividend.

Wolverine Worldwide (NYSE: WWW) is another generous company. No, I'm not going with Worldwide to get the MMM and WWW tickers into the same story. I'm not even going with Worldwide because its footwear -- like this weekly theme -- is attractive to hikers. Worldwide is earning its place on this week's list with a 22% payout lift. Shareowners will now be receiving $0.11 a share every three months from the company.

Finally, we have Abbot Labs (NYSE: ABT) on the move. The drugmaker increased its quarterly distribution by 11% to $0.36 a share. It proved lucky -- the company announced FDA approval of its new cholesterol-battling drug a few hours later. Abbot Labs has now boosted its dividend in each of the past 36 years.  

Subscribers to the Income Investor service can appreciate the companies sending more and more money to their investors. Income Investor 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 30-day trial subscription. Who knows? Maybe the next thing that will get hiked will be your interest.

3M is an Inside Value recommendation. Ameristar Casinos is a Hidden Gems stock pick. Learn more with a trial offer to either newsletter.

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.