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 XL Group (NYSE: XL). The global property and casualty insurer's new quarterly dividend of $0.11 a share is a 10% improvement over its previous rate. The insurance giant may be incorporated in Bermuda, but its principal executive offices are in Dublin. Yes, even Irish companies are smiling these days.

Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) is also giving its investors more shopping money. The world's largest retailer's boosting its quarterly payouts 21% to $0.365 a share. It's a bold upgrade considering that domestic same-store sales have fallen for seven quarters in a row.

Canadian Natural Resources (NYSE: CNQ) is also fueling its distributions. The Calgary-based oil and natural gas producer is bumping its quarterly rate 20% higher to $0.09 a share. Canadian Natural Resources has jacked up its yield for 11 years in a row.

Finally we have General Dynamics (NYSE: GD) going on the offensive. The defense contractor is fortifying its dividend by 12%. Shareowners will now be receiving $0.47 a share every three months. There may be concerns out there that defense contractors will be tested under the country's budgetary constraints, but General Dynamics obviously feels it has enough wiggle room to return more of its money to investors.

These four companies join discount retailer Fred's (Nasdaq: FRED), tech lender Hercules Tech Growth Capital (Nasdaq: HTGC), and oil and gas producers Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN) in improving their payouts.   

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.

Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Wal-Mart, which is a Motley Fool Inside Value and a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Devon Energy, General Dynamics, and Wal-Mart. 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.