I love to kick off the new trading week by taking a quick peek at companies that have just hiked their dividends. It's not just about the money. A company that is easing up on its pocketbook probably has improving fundamentals to back up that generosity.

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

We'll start with specialty retailer American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO). The mall casual-wear staple bumped up its quarterly dividend by 33% to $0.10 a share. The stock is now yielding a respectable 1.5%.

How can higher gas prices put more money in your pocket? One way is through Casey's General Store (NASDAQ:CASY). Higher gas prices fueled better-than-expected quarterly results at the convenience store/gas station chain. Now the retailer is looking to spread the wealth with a $0.065 per-share quarterly dividend. The old rate was just $0.05 per share.

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) was another hiker. Sure, caterpillars are slow crawlers, but the same can't be said for the ubiquitous brand in heavy construction equipment. Caterpillar's payout is getting a 20% boost. Shareowners will now be getting $0.36 per share every three months.

Caterpillar has hiked its dividend for 14 consecutive years now. The last three years have been especially fruitful, resulting in annual increases of 20% or better.

Then we have Target (NYSE:TGT). The discount department store operator that turned "cheap chic" into a gold mine announced an aggressive share buyback, as well as a 17% spike in its quarterly dividend to $0.14 per share.

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.

American Eagle Outfitters is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Aristotle Munarriz owns no stocks mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.