Dividend cuts may have dominated 2009, 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.

Let's start with American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO). The mall retailer is dressing up its quarterly distributions by 10%, to $0.11 a share. Healthy free cash flow and positive comps are giving the clothing chain a little wiggle room to do so. As a bonus for new buyers, the stock has been beaten down so low that its yield for new investors is an impressive 3.3%.

Target (NYSE: TGT) will also ring the register for its shareowners. The "cheap chic" discounter just came through with a mammoth 47% payout boost, establishing a new quarterly dividend of $0.25 a share.

"Because we expect to continue to return excess cash to our shareholders through a combination of regular dividends and opportunistic share repurchase, we believe it is appropriate to increase the amount returned through the quarterly dividend," Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in justifying the significant upgrade.

I'll take it!

Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) are also digging a bigger dividend. The construction and mining equipment maker will raise its quarterly disbursements by 5%, to $0.44 a share. Caterpillar stockholders aren't surprised. The industrial heavyweight has jacked up its rate in each of the past 17 years now.

Finally, we have FedEx (NYSE: FDX). The juggernaut in overnight delivery is fattening up its quarterly payout by 9% to $0.12 a share. This hopefully bodes well for its earnings report on Wednesday.

Companies are starting to return more of their money to their investors, and shareholders aren't likely to be complaining. Viacom (NYSE: VIA) (NYSE: VIA-B) hadn't paid out a dividend in years, but it stepped up to plate last week to dust off a distribution strategy. Investors will be receiving $0.15 a share every three months, and the media giant is restarting its share repurchases.

Subscribers to the Income Investor newsletter can appreciate the companies sending 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? Go ahead and 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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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.