Dividend checks continue to get fatter in corporate America, as more companies jack up their distribution rates.

Readers of the 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 Ship Finance (NYSE: SFL). The Norwegian shipping specialist's new quarterly dividend is $0.36 a share. It may be a token bump from its previous $0.35-a-share rate, but Ship Finance has now increased its distributions three times this year.

BD (NYSE: BDX) is also coming up healthy on its quarterly checkups. The medical-devices giant that is better known as Becton, Dickinson is jacking up its yield by 11% to $0.41 a share every three months. BD shareholders should be used to this by now, since the company has now cranked up its disbursements for 38 consecutive years.

McCormick (NYSE: MKC) can't match BD's streak, but it's getting there. The spice giant's latest move -- improving on its quarterly payouts by 8% to $0.28 a share -- extends McCormick's string of annual hikes to 25 years.

Finally, we have Guess? (NYSE: GES) replacing its question mark with an exclamation point. The fashionable apparel company is giving its quarterly dividend a 25% upgrade to $0.20 a share. Guess? also declared a meaty one-time distribution of $2 a share. A better than expected earnings report helped make it easy to return more money to its investors.

It's encouraging to see companies improving their yields at a time when fixed income investments are on the floor. These companies join Pennsylvania-based utility York Water (Nasdaq: YORW), South Jersey Gas parent South Jersey Industries (NYSE: SJI), and Spam canner Hormel (NYSE: HRL) in sending more of their money back to their shareowners 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.

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

BD is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. McCormick and South Jersey Industries are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. Motley Fool Options has recommended writing covered calls on Guess?. The Fool owns shares of Guess?. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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.