I love to kick off the new trading week by taking a quick peek at companies that have just raised their dividends. A company that's easing up on its pocketbook probably has improving fundamentals to back up that generosity.

Readers of the Income Investor newsletter service can 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 Williams-Sonoma (NYSE:WSM). The home-goods retailer is pushing its dividend 4% higher to $0.12 a share. Despite posting a dip in profitability and warning of near-term weakness, the company is confident that it will generate more than enough cash flow to bankroll its funding requirements and the new disbursement rate.

Pepsi Bottling Group (NYSE:PBG) is also popping. The bottler of PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) beverages likes its dividends more fizzy than flat, so it's coming through with a tasty 21% increase. Investors will now crack open $0.17 a share every three months.

Then we have American Greetings (NYSE:AM) wedging a little more greenery inside its greeting cards. I'd suggest that the company send out the following missive to its shareowners:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Why send out a dime
When a dozen pennies will do?

Yes, American Greetings is bumping up its quarterly payouts by 20% to $0.12 a share. You might not expect the greeting-card business to be much of a growth industry, but American Greetings has continued to expand, in part through its recent purchase of photo-sharing website Webshots, from CNET Networks (NASDAQ:CNET).

Finally, we have Ameron (NYSE:AMN) coming through with a 20% upgrade. Investors in the maker of water transmission lines and fabricated steel products will be floating on happily with the new $0.30-per-share quarterly dividend.

Subscribers to Income Investor can appreciate the companies that are sending more and more money to their investors. The newsletter service singles out companies that are committed to growing their distributions with market-thumping results.

Want to see what's being recommended these days? Give the service a shot with a 30-day trial subscription. Who knows? Maybe the next thing to get an increase will be your interest.