Dividends aren't just for folks looking for steady income out of their investments. Find companies that are raising their distributions, and you'll often find companies that are also improving fundamentally.

Lets take a closer look at four of the companies that inched their payouts higher this past week.

We'll start with Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG). The company behind supermarket standouts like Crest toothpaste, Pringles potato chips, and Ivory soap inched its dividend higher for the 50th consecutive year. Even though the company provided lukewarm financial guidance, the consumer-goods giant is still going to pay its shareholders $0.31 per share every three months, starting in May. That's $0.03 more than last year's quarterly rate.

It may not be enough to buy you into one of its snazzy timeshare resorts, but ILX Resorts (AMEX:ILX) is also sprucing up its generous distributions. The interval vacation-selling specialist will now be paying investors $0.1175 per share every quarter. That's a 7% improvement from the previous payout, and it pushes up the yield on ILX shares to a healthy 4.7%.

Lone Star Steakhouse (NASDAQ:STAR) was another hiker. The casual dining chain, which once rivaled Outback Steakhouse (NYSE:OSI) for casual-steakhouse supremacy in the 1990s, may have fallen behind its faster-growing competitor over the years, but at least it's not taking its dividend "Down Under." Lone Star's quarterly payout will go from $0.195 a share to $0.205 a share. The restaurant industry has usually been more concerned with its product yield than its dividend yield, but Lone Star now sports a 2.9% payout ratio that some may want to consider sinking their teeth into.

Then we have Dollar General (NYSE:DG). This retailer for thrifty shoppers is squeezing its pennies. Dollar General will now pay a whole nickel per share to its owners every quarter, up from a $0.045 rate before that. A half-cent uptick may not seem like much, but it does translate into an 11% advance for Dollar General.

Subscribers to our Income Investor newsletter can appreciate the companies sending more and more money to their investors. Analyst Mathew Emmert has often singled out companies that are committed to growing their distributions with market-thumping results.

Want to see what Mathew's liking these days? Go ahead and give his 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 mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.