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 during the past week.

Let's start with TJX (NYSE:TJX). The retailer behind the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls concepts is boosting its quarterly dividend by 9% to $0.12 a share. Yes, even in this crummy environment for strip-mall anchors, some chains are holding up just fine. It certainly only helps that T.J. Maxx and Marshalls appeal to shoppers seeking out apparel bargains. The "all-weather" shine has helped TJX bump up its distributions in each of the past 13 years.

Sticking with retail, Tanger Factory Outlet Centers (NYSE:SKT) is another company profiting from penny-pinching shoppers. The owner of 31 outlet centers, structured as a REIT, has now delivered 16 consecutive years of jacking up disbursements. Its latest move is just shy of a 1% upgrade, with a new quarterly rate of $0.3825 a share, but it's better than nothing.

Plains All American Pipeline (NYSE:PAA) is another hiker. The limited partnership's new quarterly payout is $0.905 a share, 5% ahead of where it was a year ago. The oil and gas specialist is now yielding a chunky 9.2%.

Finally, we have Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) communicating the hike it pre-announced a month ago. Its new quarterly rate is $0.17 a share, ahead of the previous $0.16 mark.

Some of these moves may not sound like much, but consider the companies going the other way. For instance, CCA Industries (AMEX:CAW) and Cascade (NYSE:CAE) slashed their payouts last week.

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.

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.