Last year may have been full of dividend-slashing, but now more and more companies are committed to giving more money back to their shareholders in 2010.

Readers of the Motley Fool Income Investor newsletter can certainly appreciate that kind of thinking. Let's take a closer look at some of the companies that inched their payouts higher this past week.

We'll start with Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG). The company behind Crest toothpaste, Duracell batteries, and Tide laundry detergent is juicing up its payout by 10%, to $0.4818 a share. Procter & Gamble has now increased its distributions for 54 years in a row.

Groceries aren't the only thing getting bigger at your local Costco (Nasdaq: COST). The warehouse club is bulking up its quarterly dividend by 14%. Shareholders will now receive $0.205 a share every three months.  

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is also living up to its "No More Tears" baby-shampoo promise -- unless we're talking about tears of joy. The pharmaceuticals and consumer-goods giant is bumping its quarterly disbursements by 10% to $0.54 a share. Investors should be used to this by now. J&J has hiked its rate in each of the past 48 years.

Finally, J.M. Smucker (NYSE: SJM) is sweetening its shareholders' day. Smucker's new quarterly payout of $0.40 a share is a 14% upgrade.

Companies are starting to return more of their money to their investors, and shareholders probably won't complain. Electricity provider Southern Company (NYSE: SO) and hard-coking coal producer Walter Energy (NYSE: WLT) have also boosted their distributions in recent days.

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.

Costco is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation and a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and Southern Company are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Johnson & Johnson. The Fool owns shares of Costco and Procter & Gamble. 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.