Not every company is slashing its dividend these days. Some of the market's better performers are easing up on their purse strings, sending more money out to their shareholders.

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 last week.

We'll start with Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ). The double-pronged company, with its healthy mix of major pharmaceuticals and huge consumer brands like Band-Aid, Listerine, and Neutrogena, is increasing its quarterly dividend by 7% to $0.49 a share. The company's board has now boosted the company's distributions in each of the past 47 years.

Another brand giant sending more money to its investors is J.M. Smucker (NYSE:SJM). Beyond its namesake fruit spreads, Smucker is also the company behind such supermarket staples as Folger's coffee, Hungry Jack pancake mixes, and Crisco shortening. Smucker's new quarterly rate is $0.35 a share, a lip-smacking upgrade from its previous $0.32 a share disbursements.   

Hudson City Bancorp (NASDAQ:HCBK) is another topper, jacking up its quarterly payout by 7% to $0.15 a share. See? Not every bank is fading away these days. Hudson City deserves Wall Street's accolades; it's the country's largest bank to refuse to taint itself by accepting TARP money.

Finally, Southern Company (NYSE:SO) is powering up its payout. The Atlanta-based electric utility is improving its disbursements by 4% to $0.4375 a share every three months. It's no Johnson & Johnson, but Southern is working on eight-year streak of higher dividend declarations.  

Some of these moves may not seem like much, but consider the less savory moves that took place last week:

  • Furniture retailer Ethan Allen (NYSE:ETH) is redecorating its dividend checks for the worse, cutting their value in half.
  • Iconic financial-services heavyweights Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE:BK) made even deeper cuts.

Subscribers to the Income Investor newsletter can appreciate companies that send more and more money to their investors. The newsletter singles out stocks that are 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.

J. M. Smucker is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Johnson & Johnson and Southern Company are Motley Fool Income Investor selections. 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.