Last year may have been a year of dividend slashing, 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.

Let's start with Best Buy (NYSE: BBY). The consumer electronics bellwether is electrifying its quarterly dividend with a 7% boost to $0.15 a share. It's the least that the retailer can do after posting disappointing financial results a week earlier.

I'm typically weary of companies with flat or declining profitability jacking up their yields, but Best Buy is good for the money. The $0.60 a share that it expects to shell out during the year ahead is a mere 17% of the $3.47 a share that analysts see the superstore earning this fiscal year.

Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) is also beating faster. The medical products maker is increasing its quarterly disbursements by 9% to $0.225 a share. Medtronic targets to return at least 40% to 50% of its free cash flow to shareholders, so as long as earnings continue to grow, so should its payouts.

Freeport McMoran (NYSE: FCX) is also mining its own business. The copper giant is making its dividends more precious by coming through on an earlier promise to double its quarterly distributions to $0.30 a share.

Finally, we have PetSmart (Nasdaq: PETM) making sure that its dividend checks aren't going to the dogs. The pet supplies retailer is improving its rate by 25% to $0.125 a share every three months. PetSmart is also instituting a $400 million stock buyback plan.

Companies are starting to return more of their money to their investors, and shareholders aren't likely to be complaining. Charlotte-based utility Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), Olive Garden- and Red Lobster-parent Darden (NYSE: DRI), and retail real estate specialist Realty Income (NYSE: O) all recently fortified their distributions.

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 is being recommended these days? Go ahead and give the newsletter service a shot with a 30-day trial subscription. Who knows? Maybe the next thing that will get hiked will be your interest.

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

Best Buy and PetSmart are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Duke Energy is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Motley Fool Options has recommended a bull call spread position on Best Buy, which is also a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Best Buy and Medtronic. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, 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.