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 week.

Let's start by jamming with J.M. Smucker (NYSE: SJM). The jelly-bellied maker of fruit spreads, peanut butter, and ice-cream toppings gave its dividend rate a 7% boost. Shareholders will now receive a lip-smacking $0.32 a share every three months.

Sonoco Products (NYSE: SON) is also packing a prettier payout. The packaging specialist now stuffs $0.27 a share into its quarterly distributions. That may just be a penny-per-share hike, but it prolongs an impressive streak. This Income Investor recommendation has now inched its yield upward for 26 years running.

Rockwell Collins (NYSE: COL) is also flying higher. The maker of flight-deck avionics and jet-cabin electronics has boosted its disbursements by 50%. Investors will now get $0.24 a share on a quarterly basis. The new yield is still slightly lower than what larger aerospace giants like Boeing (NYSE: BA) and Raytheon (NYSE: RTN) are paying, but the move puts Rockwell close enough within their radar.

Finally, we have Altera (Nasdaq: ALTR) chipping in. The semiconductor-industry enabler is improving its quarterly dividend by 25% to $0.05 a share. The upgrade comes on the heels of Altera's better-than-expected quarterly results.

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

Want to see what we're recommending these days? Go ahead and 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. Sonoco is an active Income Investor recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.