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 loosening its purse strings probably has improving fundamentals to back up that generosity.

Readers of the Motley Fool 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.

We'll start with H&R Block (NYSE:HRB). The tax preparer is giving its investors a few more beans to count, bumping up its quarterly dividend by 5%, to $0.15 a share. Tax filers like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt (NYSE:JTX) have had their stumbles in recent years, but this time Block came through, swinging to a profit on double-digit revenue growth.

Spectra Energy (NASDAQ:SE) is also powering up its payout. The natural-gas infrastructure company is inching its quarterly distribution 9% higher, to $0.25 a share. The move provides investors with a respectable 3.6% yield.

Bank of the Ozarks (NASDAQ:OZRK) in another hiker. The Arkansas-based bank holding company, which watches over $3.1 billion in assets, is dishing out a $0.13-per-share quarterly dividend. It may be just a penny more than its earlier rate, but after watching bigger banks like Washington Mutual (NYSE:WM) and Wachovia (NYSE:WB) recently slash their yields, any increase in this sector is a welcome one.

Finally, we have Kayne Anderson Energy Development (NYSE:KED) bubbling higher. The closed-end fund is improving on its quarterly dividend by 1%, to $0.42 a share.

Subscribers to the Motley Fool Income Investor newsletter love to see companies sending 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 which stocks are 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 to get hiked will be your interest.