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 ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM). The petroleum giant is fueling its quarterly payouts by 5% to $0.44 a share. ExxonMobil commands the country's largest market cap, and it's also not the one behind the nasty spill in the Gulf. It is pretty consistent with its disbursements, though. ExxonMobil has bumped its rate higher in 28 consecutive years. Smaller rival Chevron has also recently cranked up the value of its dividend checks.

UGI (NYSE: UGI) is also keeping a 23-year streak of hikes alive. The propane specialist's new quarterly dividend of $0.25 a share is a hefty 25% upgrade from its previous $0.20 a share distributions.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) continues to return money to its shareowners. The tech bellwether is authorizing a massive $8 billion share buyback. It's also jacking up its payouts by 18% to $0.65 a share every three months. IBM has now come through with 15 straight years of fattening yields, and the increases have been of the double-digit percentage variety in each of the past seven years.

Finally we have EarthLink (Nasdaq: ELNK) padding its already impressive yield. The fading Internet access provider may be posting declines on the top and bottom line, but it's milking its cash flow to reward its investors. EarthLink's new quarterly rate of $0.16 a share translates into a chunky 7.1% yield.

Companies are starting to return more of their money to their investors, and shareholders aren't likely to be complaining. Coal giant Alliance Resource Partners (Nasdaq: ARLP) and industrial services provider Grainger (NYSE: GWW) are both seeing improved financial results, and that's led them to boost their distributions in recent days.

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.

Alliance Resource Partners and UGI are Motley Fool Income Investor picks. 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.