Dividend cuts may have defined 2009, but there are now more and more companies 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 Assurant (NYSE: AIZ). The insurance provider won't need actuary tables to increase its quarterly dividend by 7% to $0.16 a share. Assurant has now come through with chunkier disbursements for six years in a row.

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF) is also on the move, bumping its payout higher by a whopping 60%. Shareholders will now receive $0.14 a share every three months. The continent's largest producer of iron ore pellets is confident about the near-term spike in steelmaker demand for raw materials. 

Timken (NYSE: TKR) is turning higher. The "Where You Turn" company, with its line of friction management and power transmission products, will jack up its quarterly rate by 44% to $0.13 a share.

Finally, CPI (NYSE: CPY) poses for a friendly snapshot with its new $0.25-a-share quarterly dividend, 56% ahead of its previous distributions. CPI runs a chain of 3,000 photography portrait studios, located in popular department stores.

Companies are starting to return more of their money to their investors, and shareholders probably won't complain. Quaker Chemical (NYSE: KWR) and mine safety specialist MSA (NYSE: MSA) have also boosted their distributions in recent days, both reflecting heightened confidence in their future prospects.

Subscribers to the Income Investor newsletter can appreciate businesses 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.

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Assurant is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. 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.