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 with Becton Dickson (NYSE:BDX). The medical device specialist declared a new quarterly dividend of $0.33 a share, 16% higher than its previous rate. BD has now come through with hikes in 36 consecutive years.

McCormick (NYSE:MKC) is also spicing up its payouts. The spice and seasonings giant is boosting its quarterly disbursements by 9% to $0.24 a share. This isn't just a random pinch here or a dash there. McCormick has sprinkled shareholders with savory yields in each of the past 22 years, and its distributions have roughly tripled over the past decade alone.

Landauer (NYSE:LDR) is another hiker. The radiation exposure detection expert is giving its payout a 5% lift. Shareholders will now be receiving $0.525 a share every three months. The stock is now sporting a healthy 3.7% yield.

Finally, we have York Water (NASDAQ:YORW) quenching its shareowners. The country's oldest investor-owned utility is pumping up its quarterly distributions by 4% to $0.126 a share. York has been paying dividends since 1816.

It may not sound like much, but consider the companies going the other way last week:

  • Homebuilder D.R. Horton (NYSE:DHI) cut its dividend in half to $0.0375 a share.
  • New Jersey's Pamrapo Bancorp (NASDAQ:PBCI) quarterly payouts will shrink to $0.15 a share from $0.23 a share.
  • NN, Inc. (NASDAQ:NNBR) is suspending its quarterly distributions entirely.

Subscribers to the Income Investor newsletter can appreciate the 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 what is being recommended these days? Go ahead and give the newsletter service a free 30-day trial. Who knows? Maybe the next thing that will get hiked will be your interest.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.