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 these past few days.

We can start with Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC)Many banking giants are still limited to token $0.01-a-share quarterly payouts, but not Wells Fargo. The financial services behemoth is bumping its quarterly rate 14% higher to $0.25 a share. This is a significant hike, especially given Wells Fargo's 5.3 billion shares outstanding.

Atlas Pipeline Partners (NYSE: APL) is another gusher. The midstream natural gas company set up as a limited partnership declared a quarterly distribution of $0.58 a unit. It may be a token increase from the $0.57 a unit that it was shelling out just three months ago, but Atlas Pipeline Partners has come through with nine increases over the past 10 quarters.

Valero Energy (NYSE:VLO) is also on the move. The energy giant behind petroleum refineries, ethanol plants, and wind farms is bumping up its yield 14% to $0.20 a share.

"This dividend increase reflects our positive outlook for Valero and our commitment to return more cash to shareholders," CEO Bill Klesse is quoted as saying in last week's press release.

Valero's yield of 2.1% may not turn heads given the plethora of energy-related companies paying out more, but it's still a healthy step in the right direction.

Finally, we have BB&T (NYSE:TFC) generating more interest. The financial services heavyweight with 1,832 financial centers across the country and $183.9 billion in customer assets is increasing its quarterly disbursements 15% to $0.23 a share.

These four companies know what they're doing. Dividends matter. It's not a surprise to see Nokia's stock take an 8% hit on Thursday after the company temporarily suspended its quarterly payouts. Alienate income investors at your own risk.

Checks and balances
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. A 30-day trial subscription will let you see if it's right for you.