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 Southern Company (NYSE: SO). The Atlanta-based electric utility with 4.4 million juiced-up customers powered up its quarterly dividend by 4% to $0.4725 a share. Investors should be used to this by now, as Southern has come through with 10 consecutive years of giving its distributions a northern push.

Appliance maker Whirlpool (NYSE: WHR) also put its payout through a spin cycle. Its new rate of $0.50 a share is a 16% upgrade.

"This dividend increase represents our confidence that continued investments in consumer-relevant innovations to advance our global brand offerings; expansion into higher-margin, faster growing businesses; and our strong position in emerging markets will generate growth and provide long-term value for our shareholders," CEO Jeff M. Fettig notes in the press release.

Western Gas Partners (NYSE: WES) is also energizing its disbursements. The Houston-based midstream energy partnership's new quarterly dividend of $0.39 a share is just a penny ahead of where it was three months ago but an impressive 15% uptick over the past year.

Finally, we have Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM) shareholders striking it rich. The miner recently initiated a gold-price-linked dividend guideline, increasing its dividend by $0.05 a share for every $100 per ounce rise in its average realized gold sales price. The move gives gold bugs a yield play, and it was acted on with last week's quarterly distribution announcement of $0.20 a share. Newmont's rate was $0.10 a share a year ago and $0.15 a share during the previous quarter.

These companies join copper miner Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX) -- which tacked on a $0.50-a-share supplemental one-time payout to its regular dividend -- in propping up their yields.

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.

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