I love to kick off the new trading week by peeking 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 companies that inched their payouts higher over the past week.

Let's start by jamming with Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ). The drugmaker with a hand in consumer staples boosted its quarterly dividend by 11% to $0.46 a share. Like a "No More Tears" bottle of its signature baby shampoo, income-chasing investors haven't done a lot of crying here. J&J has now increased its payouts for 46 consecutive years.

Is the best defense for a defense contractor a heartier dividend? Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) should know. The company has raised its distributions in each of the past five years. Its latest hike came on Thursday, increasing its payout by 8% to $0.40 a share.

Cedar Fair (NYSE: FUN) is another hiker. The regional amusement park operator declared a quarterly distribution of $0.48 a share, in line with its previously announced increase. If you think that coaster park operators are as wild and unpredictable as some of their rides, Cedar Fair will have upped its disbursements for 21 years straight once these checks go out. Rival Six Flags (NYSE: SIX) may not pay a dividend, but Cedar Fair is now yielding a whopping 8.3%.

Finally we have Southern's (NYSE: SO) yield heading north. The Atlanta-based energy provider is raising its dividend by 4% to an annual rate of $1.68 a share. Southern has now come through by powering up its dividend in each of the past seven years. 

Subscribers to the Income Investor newsletter learn a lot about companies that send 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 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.

Cedar Fair, Johnson & Johnson, and Southern are active Income Investor recommendations. We'll give you the keys for a month for free to any newsletter service with 30-day trial subscriptions.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz pays attention to yield signs. He owns shares in Cedar Fair and Six Flags. 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.