Tattle-tale, tattle-tale! If there's one thing parents hate hearing from one of their children, it's news that one of the other kids is misbehaving. It's not that we don't want to be kept in the loop, you understand. It's just that, there's only so much bad news you want to hear, y'know?

And so it is with investing. Yesterday, diversified industrial conglomerate Textron (NYSE: TXT) gave investors a sneak peek at its probable end-of-year earnings results, and the news was grim: While some of the company's business units are turning in "solid performance," management sees no "discernable improvement in business jet order activity." The lousy business outlook at Cessna is going to shave a good $100 million or more off this year's free cash flow target (now reduced to $400 million), and will depress GAAP earnings as well as the company begins yet another round of layoffs at the division.

This news would be bad enough if it were only a mea culpa on Textron's part. Problem is, bad news tends to come in waves in the business jet market. What affects Textron is almost certain to hurt earnings at Gulfstream-maker General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), and at Brazilian builder Embraer (NYSE: ERJ). It could even cause damage farther afield at Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), which owns a big chunk of the Hawker and Beechcraft businesses, bought from Raytheon (NYSE: RTN) back in 2007.

The good news, to the extent that it exists, is that with any luck at all, these rivals will be hurt less by Textron's tattle than the tattler itself. While "executive" jets make up Embraer's second biggest source of revenue, for example, the company depends on them for less than 17% of its business. Similarly, Aerospace accounts for only about 16% of General D's annual sales, and it's more a hobby than a vocation at Goldman Sachs.

Foolish sidenote
Meanwhile, the weakness in corporate jet sales doesn't seem to be slowing down Boeing (NYSE: BA) one whit, and the nation's biggest commercial jet company just finished announcing its third consecutive increase in 737 production.

Moral of the story: Maybe bigger really is better -- this year at least.

EMBRAER is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick, but Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.