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First, buy an expensive briefcase…

Ever wondered what advice new CEOs receive when they take over a company’s reins? While the text of that wisdom may remain hidden inside corporate board rooms, the cost of CEO counseling came to light in this proxy filed on Monday by the Toro Company (TTC). Toro, a lawn-care specialty outfit, disclosed that it paid former CEO and current Executive Chairman Kendrick Melrose an $89,063 bonus for his services as Executive Chairman of the Board from March 15, 2005 to October 31, 2005. What was Toro’s justification for such a costly director’s fee?

“When Mr. Melrose resigned as CEO and became Executive Chairman of the Board, we informed him that we would consider paying a bonus based on his effectiveness in serving as a mentor to Mr. Hoffman during the latter’s succession as Toro’s Chief Executive Officer and in providing other executive support to Toro. We determined that Mr. Melrose achieved his objectives and we exercised our discretion to authorize a payment of $89,062 to him with respect to the period from March 15 to October 31, 2005.”

Whatever sage advice Melrose handed down, the Company’s shareholders certainly didn’t benefit from it. Toro’s stock fell some 15% between March 15 and October 31.

One other interesting tidbit about Toro’s proxy: directors — all 9 of them — probably have the nicest lawns in their neighborhoods. That’s because they receive irrigation systems worth up to $6,000 and an unspecified amount of other Toro products. Though Toro has disclosed the irrigation systems in prior proxies, they had not attached a dollar figure to it in the past.

UPDATE: A reader pointed us to this 8-K filed last April, just before Toro’s stock split. Perhaps one of the things Melrose managed to pass along to Hoffman was how to figure out the exact moment the stock peaks and then sell.