By Andrey Sychev and Tristan Veyet

GDANSK (Reuters) - Linde, the world's largest industrial gases company, on Tuesday forecast slower growth for 2024 after a strong performance last year.

Linde is seen as a bellwether for industrial production as it supplies gases for a wide range of customers in industries such as chemicals, manufacturing and steel-making.

"Looking ahead, the geopolitical and macro environment remain uncertain. However, we are well positioned to win more than our fair share of high-quality projects and again create shareholder value," Linde CEO Sanjiv Lamba said in a statement.

Morningstar analyst Krzysztof Smalec said slower metals and electronics end-markets could be hampering U.S.-German group Linde's growth next year.

The gas group saw fourth-quarter volumes falling in metals and mining, and electronics end-markets, according to its earnings presentation.

The company has managed to offset lower volumes with higher pricing.

"Despite these headwinds, management's full-year 2024 outlook came in $0.01 above consensus, which I think speaks to Linde's strong execution, especially the continued operating margin expansion in all segments," Smalec said.

The annual outlook is "likely fine considering Linde's track record of beating quarterly guidance (average 7% in the past three years)," TD Cowen analyst Marc Bianchi wrote in a note.

U.S. peer Air Products earnings missed estimates in October-December weighed by softer demand in Europe and Asia, and higher costs.

Linde, which supplies gases such as oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen to factories and hospitals, expects its adjusted earnings per share (EPS) to grow by 8-11% in 2024, down from 16% growth last year, but largely in line with an LSEG mean estimate.

For the first quarter, it guided for 5-8% adjusted EPS growth, slightly below an LSEG consensus of a 9% increase.

The company reported a 14% rise in fourth-quarter adjusted EPS to $3.59, beating analysts' mean estimate of $3.49 per share.

Linde's shares were 1.8% higher in U.S. premarket trade.

(Reporting by Andrey Sychev and Tristan Veyet in Gdansk; Editing by Milla Nissi, Sharon Singleton and Ros Russell)