I love to kick off the new trading week by taking a quick peek at companies that have just hiked their dividends. A company that's loosening its purse strings 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.

We'll start with McGraw-Hill (NYSE:MHP). The book publisher is bumping up its quarterly dividend by 2% to $0.225 a share. That may not seem like much, but McGraw-Hill has increased its distributions in each of the past 36 years.

Pest-whacking Rollins (NYSE:ROL) is also sending a little more money to its shareowners. The company behind Orkin isn't about to exterminate its yield, thanks to a new quarterly dividend of $0.07 a share. Rollins has increased its payout rate by 12% or more for seven consecutive years.

Commercial information and insight specialist Dun & Bradstreet (NYSE:DNB) is also boosting the sum it shares with shareholders, from $0.30 to $0.34 a share every three months.

Finally, railroad operator Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) is on track to give its quarterly disbursements a 6% push to $0.34 a share. That's actually the second time over the past year that Norfolk Southern has increased its yield. 

Some of these moves may not sound like much, but consider the companies going the other way last week:

  • Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) is slashing its dividend in half, making room for the buyout of rival Wyeth (NYSE:WYE).
  • Ethan Allen Interiors (NYSE:ETH) bumped up its payout over the summer, but the furniture retailer took it all back -- and then some -- with a 60% cut last week.

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

Want to see what we're recommending these days? 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.

Pfizer is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Pfizer and McGraw-Hill are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. The Fool owns shares of Pfizer. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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. The Fool has a disclosure policy.