Last year may have been rife with dividend-slashing, but more and more companies are now committed to sending more money out 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 PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP). The salty-snacks-and-soft-drinks giant is sweetening its quarterly dividend by 7%, to $0.48 a share. PepsiCo's steady, all-weather performance makes it a natural hiker.

Expeditors International (Nasdaq: EXPD) is also on the move. The global logistics provider will improve its semiannual distribution by 5% to $0.20 a share. Expeditors posted first-quarter results last week, with net revenue, earnings, and operating profits climbing 8%, 3%, and 10%, respectively.

Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY) is even more sparkly after bumping its payout 50% higher. Sure, the Canadian gold producer's move only amounts to paying $0.015 a share every three months, instead of a token penny. But the new 0.6% yield is still better than a dormant gold coin -- or even your typical money market fund these days.

Finally, Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) will keep its payout on track. The railroad operator's new quarterly dividend rate of $0.33 a share is 22% greater than its previous disbursements. Union Pacific is also earmarking an additional $100 million toward growth capital spending, mostly to buy additional intermodal equipment.

Companies are starting to return more of their money to their investors, and shareholders likely won't complain. Oil and gas producer Occidental Petroleum (NYSE: OXY) and Floridian electric utility TECO Energy (NYSE: TE) have also boosted their distributions in recent days, both citing strong financial conditions and optimistic future outlooks.

Subscribers to the Income Investor newsletter can appreciate companies that send 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 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.

Do higher dividends matter to you? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

The Fool has created a covered strangle position on Expeditors International. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on PepsiCo, which is also a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. 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.